Book Review: You By Caroline Kepnes

You by Caroline Kepnes

I want you. I need you. I can make you love me. You drive me insane…

We live in a crazy world full of stalkers and psychopaths. Or so Caroline Kepnes, author of the extremely discomfiting new novel, You will have us think. I still haven’t decided if I liked it because it’s weird and sick, but I thought I would tell you about it anyways.

Imagine you walk into a bookstore and friendly as usual, you sort of flirt with the clerk. Unbeknownst to you, Joe (that’s his name), has an extremely vivid imagination. Combined with being on the unstable side (texbook: abused and neglected), he develops an interest in you. An unhealthy interest.

And so it begins.

I’ll be honest. I started this novel, read about 20 pages, was completely creeped out and put it down. A few days later I decided to give it another shot. While the story still disturbed me, I became oddly mesmerized. Billed as a romance, which it’s not, unless you’re a follower of the Marquis de Sade, this novel is graphic, honest, and vivid. Just like in Gone Girl, where in truth, everyone is a sociopath when push comes to shove, watching the inevitable train wreck is meant to appeal to the same sick part of my brain that enjoyed Destined to Play and occasionally tunes in to the worst reality TV.

Love hurts…

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams.

Beck doesn’t know it yet, but she’s perfect for him, and soon she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect façade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences . . .

A chilling account of unrelenting passion, Caroline Kepnes’s You is a perversely romantic thriller that’s more dangerously clever than any you’ve read before.

Ok to be clear. This isn’t necessarily a chilling account of unrelenting passion, as I’m pretty sure that what Joe feels for Beck is obsession rather than passion, and a very unhealthy one at that. As my grandmother would have said, he is a real Mental Case. And so is everyone else in Kepness’ world. But regardless of semantics, from the first word she pulls out all the stops to develop this story full of complex and fully developed characters, all headed to a disastrous downward spiral.

Days pass and I grow anxious. You parade too much and its unsafe and it only takes one weirdo to spot you inside and decide to go and get you…

(That’s rich Joe, just one weirdo?)

 

The writing is chilling, seemingly authentic (not that I’ve ever had murderous stalkery thoughts before but they’re as I might imagine they would be), and completely believable. The latter is what makes it so hard to read. Is it really fiction? Are there people out there who are like Joe (or Beck or Nicky the unfortunate therapist?) I’m not sure since the author appears, from her picture, to be a nice California Blonde. But what do appearances mean anyways.

Could it be real?

And it’s in this realness that You is the most successful, regardless of how..well…icky and uncomfortable the whole thing actually is.

You is not for the faint of heart or those who are susceptible to book-induced paranoia (will you think anyone who smiles at you is a stalker?)

 

Unputdownable Factor: 7/10 (alternates between can’t stop and gross, can’t read)

Recommend Factor: 5/10 (definitely NOT for everyone)

 

Are you interested? Will you read YOU?

 

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