Author: Caroline Kepnes
Series: You, #1
Page Count: 426
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Original Publication Date: 2014
Genre(s): Thriller, Adult fiction, Contemporary
When a beautiful woman wanders into the bookstore where Joe works, he is immediately obsessed with her. He must know her name. He Googles the name on her credit card, and he’s in luck: only 1 Guinevere Beck shows up in NYC. Even better, Beck (as her friends call her) has a public Facebook page and a ridiculously active Twitter account. She’s an over-sharer, making Joe’s mission a piece of cake: insert himself into Beck’s life, make her fall in love with him, and remove any obstacles that may get in the way of those two things. Even if that means killing someone.
Told in first-person POV, You follows the seriously disturbed Joe after meeting you, AKA Beck. The novel is written for you, so it almost reads like a second-person POV. Joe becomes infatuated with Beck to the point where he begins stalking her, breaking into her house, hacking her emails, and setting up “chance” meetings. Honestly, after reading You, I’m pretty relieved I’m about as interesting as a trash can and live in the middle of Corn Field, Ohio, because wow was it easy for Joe to stalk Beck.
Joe is an interesting character. Right away you get a sense that he’s extremely conceited, as well as anxious, obsessive, creepy, and disturbed. But the hard part is realizing that he’s also intelligent, funny, and relatable, which makes it really hard to hate him. He’s a very complex character. He talks about loving Beck, but in the same breath calls her a slob and a whore. He constantly points out her shortcomings and things he can’t stand about her (which is literally everything about her), yet he adores her. It’s more like he’s obsessed with her and has latched onto her, convincing himself that he loves her. And it’s so intriguing being in that head of his.
So, though I hated Joe and was creeped out by him, I also liked him, which is hard to admit to, but if you read it/have read it, you’ll understand what I mean. Especially because all the other characters are so unlikable. Peach is a bitch, Benji is a mess, Nicky is a manipulative asshole… And Beck. Beck is perhaps the biggest mess of all, aside from Joe. And maybe we only dislike these characters because we’re reading from Joe’s POV. Maybe he lies about what he sees, or maybe he experiences things in a way that’s different from reality. I definitely thought about that while reading, but still, I have to say I disliked all the characters.
Not only is You an amazing character study, but it’s also thrilling, suspenseful, and fun. I loved how exciting the story was, and how long it would take Beck to see through Joe, and what Joe would do when that happened. There’ also a ton of sex, so get ready for that… I also liked the casual, almost stream of consciousness style of writing. It makes readers see Joe as an anxious, obsessive dude. It also adds to the edge-of-your-seat feeling.
I highly recommend You and am excited to read the sequel AND watch the Netflix show. I’ve been reading a lot of let-down thrillers/mysteries, so this one really won me over. It really makes you think about your own online presence and trust in strangers. Read this one at home, with the blinds drawn, and all the lights on.