Review: You

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You4 out of 5 stars to You, the first of a two-book thriller and suspense series, written in 2014 by Caroline Kepnes. All I can start out with is wow – I loved it! I’ve tried to pull out all spoilers, but I do give a little bit of the high-level plot and antics away, as I think it will make you want to read it more.

 



Why This Book


My friend Medhat asked if I’d be interested in a buddy read with him and proposed 5 different books. I’d read 1 already, didn’t have an interest in 1 of them, and 2 were a re-read for him, which left this one as something new for both of us. So we went with it… I knew nothing about the author or the novel prior to him bringing it up, and I’m grateful he did. I had been in a slight reading slump and this book was extremely refreshing and strong, directly in my sweet spot as far as genres and styles go. Please go check out Medhat’s profile and look at his review of this book.



Plot, Characters & Setting


Joe runs a bookstore on the Lower East Side of NYC, sort of inheriting it from the man who basically adopted him as a boy from parents who weren’t doing a very good job at raising him. Joe’s witty, sarcastic and on the edge of being a little psychotic for his 25-30ish years. Guinivere Beck, known simply as Beck, stops in his store to make a purchase, and Joe immediately falls in love…. No that’s not the right word… obsession, yeah… falls into an obsession…that’s the right word… with her. He stalks her social media profiles, learns everything he can about her, then engineers the downfall of her on again / off again jerk of a boyfriend. He tries to isolate Beck from her friends and create situations where they keep running into another until she finally decides to pursue him. They begin dating for a few weeks and have a very peculiar relationship where they take steps to get closer, then she pulls away and looks for her ex-boyfriend. After a few weeks of the back-and-forth, some major event take place that show Joe’s true colors… and eventually we learn just how broken Beck also is. When one of them attempts to break off the relationship, the other goes berserk and takes the situation to an entirely new level of crazy. As the book comes to an end, a dramatic conclusion forces a major plot change and probably begins the focus for the second book in the series, which as a nice little teaser for you… is called Hidden Bodies. {Phew… this is a hard one to describe without giving any spoilers}

Beyond Joe and Beck, you’ve got an ex-girlfriend of Joe’s and an ex-boyfriend of Beck’s. Beck’s psychiatrist enters the picture for a good chunk of the book, as well as her friend, Peach. Peach is an annoying and pompous witch (I have another word in mind but I’ll be nice today) who is almost more psychotic than Joe. Joe’s got a few workers at the book store who interact from time to time, as well as a cop intervening for a few chapters.

The action mostly takes place in NYC, but there are a few short trips to Rhode Island and other parts of the immediate vicinity. It all takes place in current times, where social media and technology are very important to the plot and character actions.



Approach & Style


The book is told from Joe’s point of view, as he is the narrator which means it’s told in a first-person perspective. However, the big difference in this book is that Joe is telling the story as if the reader is Beck, constantly referring to her as “You” throughout the book. As a reader, you start feeling like everything he’s doing, he’s doing to you. And when your character, Beck, makes decisions or reacts in an unexpected way, it’s a roller-coaster of fun trying to balance your amusement and your frustration with your anger and your confusion. All in a good approach. I haven’t really read much else using this perspective, and it was done in a very strong way.
The book is about 400 pages and broken into about 50 chapters, so each one is relatively short but consistent in its narration, style and language. The language is a bit convoluted at times, as they are both avid readers and writers, work in a book store and get quite philosophical. It’s definitely a 17+ book in the sense that there are many 4-letter word bombs and extensive sexual content. Some will find it on the vulgar side, and while it certainly had a few moments where it was on the edge, I thought the author only included such content when it felt appropriate.



Strengths


Due to the style, you are immediately drawn into Joe’s psychotic attraction and dangerous personality. However… there is something so wonderful and charming about him, you want to look past the stalker he becomes, as he has a heart of hold. And when Beck begins to show signs of being venomous, you almost don’t mind some of the things he does to or against her, in spite of their growing attraction and relationship. It’s truly like watching a train wreck, knowing you can’t really stop it, but kinda wanting to see every little gory detail as it unfolds.

Joe is so crystal clear, you would think he’s standing right next you. Beck is almost as real as he is, but given Joe narrates the story, you tend to feel closer to him. For an author to make you almost root for the bad guy, it’s a good book. The interaction, the imagination, the internal thoughts, the passive-aggressive behavior… it’s all so spot-on, I can’t even begin to explain how real this situation seems to play out, with the exception of he’s a stalker and basically invaded her life. If they had just met and gotten into a relationship, everything from that point on felt 100% real – from their fights to their make-up sessions, as well as from the games they played and the way in which their friends took sides. Amazing slice of life to watch play out.



Concerns


The last few chapters felt a bit rushed. It was quite suspenseful and you could see the whole sequence of events unfolding in real-time before your eyes; however, because it’s all from Joe’s point of view, I’m unsure exactly how much Beck knows in those last few chapters. She clearly articulates that she was aware of what he had done before she told him she knew about it. But you don’t know how much of a preview she had into his psychotic mind, or if she was happy or scared with it. {Again, sorry, don’t want to give away any spoilers} For me, I would have loved to read a journal entry she’d written saying exactly what she knew and when she knew it. Otherwise, we’re left guessing a little bit, and having that information may help us decide whether or not she’s a good person or a bad person.

Joe gets away with a lot. He’s sneaky. He’s smart. He’s vengeful. He’s manipulative. But it seems no one picks up on it until too late. I can pretty much buy off on it; however, in the scenes where he is caught, I can’t tell if it’s remorse or anger. I would love to know if he wanted to be caught, if he accepts the consequences or if he is just growing more volatile. It’s a pretty clear ending to the book, so you know when it’s done what is going on in his head, but it would have been fantastic to watch him spiral a bit more out of control in the last 20% of the novel.



Author & Other Similar Books


As far as the way the story is told, I can’t think of anything. As far as the type of story, perhaps Fatal Attraction? Joe also feels like a diabolical version of a narcissistic Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. Loveable and annoying, but be careful as you never know what he’s truly capable of until after it’s already happened.



Questions & Final Thoughts


I need to read the second book ASAP. This is such a different kind of story… one where you may side with the criminal in this story. You see both perspectives. You want him to get everything he deserves – both the good and the bad. And in some strange way, I think I was even attracted to parts of his personality (and that’s scary, given how the book ends up). If you need something to pull you out of a slump, this is the book. It’s still sitting on my brain, as vivid as though I were reading the words on the page. It’s that kind of book… one where you will want to keep thinking about it and talking about it for a long time after you are done.



About Me


For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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30 thoughts on “Review: You

    Nel said:
    June 7, 2017 at 8:29 AM

    I’m only commenting because I love the memes on this review hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      June 7, 2017 at 8:30 AM

      Ha! If you love thriller / suspense / social media psycho crazy but I think I might love this guy kinda books… this is a good one.

      Liked by 1 person

        Nel said:
        June 7, 2017 at 8:31 AM

        You should read my review about Written in Red! I think you’d like that one in terms of getting more into fantasy reading.

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        June 7, 2017 at 8:34 AM

        I’ll go take a look!

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        June 7, 2017 at 8:38 AM

        for some reason, not all of your posts show up in my feed. Like I never saw this one, but I saw others from the last few days. Odd.

        Liked by 1 person

        Nel said:
        June 7, 2017 at 8:39 AM

        Maybe the Reader hates me. Or it could have something to do with me being self hosted through .org. I don’t know! I can yell at someone for you if you’d like 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        June 7, 2017 at 8:40 AM

        yes. two people in case the first one doesn’t do anything. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

    susandyer1962 said:
    June 7, 2017 at 8:41 AM

    Awesome review Jay! I think I own this book…..lol I’m old and can’t remember all of them! Okay but the meme of the chick from Wedding Crashers?? What a wack job she was huh? Lol I love that stupid movie!!

    Liked by 2 people

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      June 7, 2017 at 8:44 AM

      Thanks! I love writing reviews for books I just read as it’s so much easier. At least I only have about 60 or so older ones left.

      And you’re not old. You just have too many to remember. No one can. It’s a unique book but so worth the read.

      And yes! Love the actress too. just too funny. I’d have run scared if that happened to me in Wedding Crashers. But he sticks it out. Yikes!

      Liked by 1 person

    shalini said:
    June 7, 2017 at 9:06 AM

    Great review.. I have yet to read this book..

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      June 7, 2017 at 9:07 AM

      Thanks. If you love thrillers, social media and psychos, it’s a good one.

      Like

        shalini said:
        June 7, 2017 at 9:19 AM

        I do but jay I am scared of stalker books

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        June 7, 2017 at 9:23 AM

        you might avoid this one then… although it’s stalking thru social media, not so much following someone around

        Like

        shalini said:
        June 7, 2017 at 9:24 AM

        Yea that’s been the reason why I have been hesitant with this book… I would start doubting every one here and on fb😉

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        June 7, 2017 at 9:23 AM

        sometimes it is tho

        Like

    Mischenko said:
    June 7, 2017 at 10:16 AM

    Great review, James. I’m glad to see that you liked it! I might try and bump this one up on my list. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    Naty said:
    June 7, 2017 at 2:15 PM

    Great review! I’m really interested now!

    Liked by 2 people

    theorangutanlibrarian said:
    June 7, 2017 at 3:24 PM

    Ah I’ve heard only good things about this one- I still need to read it!! Great review!!

    Liked by 2 people

    Rae Longest said:
    June 7, 2017 at 5:26 PM

    This book was not my cup o tea, but the review was so good, it made me want to read it. Will it give me nightmares or distrust friends’ motives? LOL

    Liked by 2 people

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      June 7, 2017 at 5:27 PM

      Unfortunately, yes. I am a huge horror fan and I was a little unsettled over how easy it is to be stalked.

      Liked by 1 person

        Rae Longest said:
        June 7, 2017 at 6:47 PM

        Thanks for your honesty. I’ll pass. Old(er) ladies should have blissful, pleasant dreams!

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        June 7, 2017 at 7:05 PM

        THis will invade your dreams! Pleasant is better. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    Books, Vertigo and Tea said:
    June 8, 2017 at 4:52 PM

    This has been on my TBR for a while now. I have to admit that Joe sounds like a really fun/interesting character. I may have to bump this up!

    Liked by 2 people

    TAG: Rapid Fire Books « this-is-my-truth-now said:
    June 20, 2017 at 9:28 AM

    […] You by Caroline Kepnes. Just bought the follow-up book. […]

    Liked by 1 person

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