YOU Review

You: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes

Snyopsis: When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone Girl, American Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery

 

*****

 

I read this book over a space of two days, and it would not have even been that long had it not been for required time with family and work. Caroline Kepnes had me in her grip and I loved every moment of it -- from the first page till the last. 

 

The story focuses on two characters -- Beck and Joe. Beck is an aspiring writer and typical middle-class New Yorker (is that the right word? hmmm) who enjoys spending time with her friends and visiting bookshops and drinking and having a good time in general. At first, she seems fairly nice and normal, but the reader soon realizes she's quite manipulative and unreliable -- or so thinks Joe, her stalker and first person narrator. 

 

I would like to take a moment to reflect on the narration style and voice here, which is what the reader will immediately notice about You. Kepnes does a fabulous job of truly getting in this guy's head -- she shows us, with no holds barred, all of his humor and cynicism, his twisted fantasies and belief that he's the good guy here (is he?), his dire need of love and affection. The guy's cheese is  mostly off the cracker from page one, but I couldn't help but sympathize with him a little bit -- and that's the sign of a truly great author. Kepnes has created a well-drawn, fully functioning, prism of a guy I'm not sure I like or not after finishing the novel, but I certainly feel like he's real and came mighty close to walking off the page. 

 

As I said, Joe is pretty messed up guy in so many ways (which I really won't go into, because seeing his nutty savagery come alive as it unfolds is one of the biggest draws of the story), so naturally he is a pretty unreliable narrator. Is Beck really a selfish, easily manipulated, spoiled woman who isn't happy unless she's using a man for sex/other needs? Quite possibly, yes. I would lean toward yes, but isn't completely certain... and I have an inkling the author wants it that way. If nothing else, Caroline Kepnes has mastered the art of unreliable narration -- and in her first novel, at that!

 

This book is so good, but I'm finding myself at a loss of what to say about it. It's as if I'm stopped up tonight! If I'm being honest, I haven't had this much fun with a novel about obsession since Stephen King's Misery (who, by the way, gets several fun mentions within this book -- check it out, Constant Readers!) and Joe is just as nutty as ole Annie Wilkes, if not more so. 

 

In short, you need to read this novel. If you're a fan of modern techno-thrillers with fast pacing, frights, murder, and some excellent character work to boot... then this novel is for you. Pick a copy up for a friend, too! 

 

(Regarding my 4 1/2 stars rating: While this novel is nearly perfect in my opinion, there was one thing that sort of stuck in my craw -- Beck communicates with her friends via email instead of text, and that's how Joe stalks her messages so easily. He simply hacks her email. It's written off that she just doesn't like texting and instead prefers email, but that just reeks of unbelievable plot-forwarding to me. This novel is set in late 2013, and texting was very much the norm at that point. Beck is supposed to be a young, modern New York girl in every way... and she is, mostly... but having her email instead of text just really threw me off. I get it -- there would be no way for Joe to read her texts (at least so easily!), but still.)