Series: You #1
Published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books on September 30th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery/Thriller
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.
You by Caroline Kepnes might be the most unsettling book I have ever read. And I loved every second of it. It messes with your mind and makes you think about your surroundings in a whole new light.
You is told from the point of view of Joe who is in his mid-twenties and works as a book seller in a small independent bookstore in New York City. One day, a young woman who goes by the name of Beck walks into the bookstore and Joe is immediately taken, obsessed even. Right away, Joe proceeds to stalk her: he goes online and finds out a huge amount of information about her from Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, hacks her email and takes many other extreme measures in order to get close to her. Bit by bit he plants himself into Beck’s life.
Joe is unreliable narration at its best. It really shows how much great writing can change the way we view things. We see all of Joe’s horrific actions and yet we cannot help but sympathize with him and laugh at his jokes. Being inside Joe’s head was simultaneously horrifying and fascinating. Often he seemed so normal: charming, humorous, intelligent but then he would do something crazy and it was like I was being jolted awake and realized again how twisted he really was. Joe truly believes that he and Beck are made for each other and the way he narrates the story, the reader cannot help but believe it too.
We are a dream couple, we are what happens after Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks finally kiss, after cancer-free Joe Gordon-Levitt and sweet shrink-in-training Anna Kendrick eat their pizza in 50/50. We are Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke after U2 finishes singing ‘All I Want Is You’.
What makes Joe an even more interesting character is his social commentary on the world we live in. I found myself nodding along, agreeing and laughing with him despite the fact that he acted in such revolting ways.
“I own every book Stephen King has ever written.”
“That’s great. That’s something to be proud of.”
But did you read them, fuckface?
The things he says sometimes just hit the nail on the head and brought humour to a book that shouldn’t have been funny at all.
Work in a bookstore and learn that most people in this world feel guilty about being who they are.
There were other times when reading from Joe’s perspective was terrifying. His thoughts would switch between elation and despair seamlessly; one moment he would be in love with everything, the next he’d want to kill everyone around.
The storyline of a man becoming obsessed with a girl and stalking her is not a new one, but this is a unique take on the subject. From what I’ve seen, the girl who is stalked is usually very naïve and sweet and innocent but Beck is none of those things. She is narcissistic, selfish and craves attention and I found myself hating her with a passion. I couldn’t understand her motives or her way of thinking, but that was part of what made this book so intriguing. We don’t truly get to know Beck, we only see her the way Joe perceives her, and he is – by definition – unreliable.
The writing was spot on. It’s witty, clever and funny and the second person present tense worked so, so well. If you find yourself being sceptical of this book because of the second person, don’t worry, Caroline Kepnes chose perfectly.
This book also really makes you think about our use of social media. Beck tweets incessantly and it’s a big part of why Joe is able to infiltrate her life so easily. So much information about us is out there on the web and this book makes you aware of how vulnerable this can make us.
There aren’t a lot of Guinevere Becks in the world – just the one. The first thing I had to find was your home and the Internet was designed with love in mind. It gave me so much of you, Beck.
If I’d have to name one criticism, it would be the book’s length. I could have been trimmed down a little, some parts dragged a tiny bit. Otherwise though, this book was honestly flawless.
Overall, You was an excellent read, extremely captivating and unique. It is very graphic and vulgar at times so if that’s not your thing maybe don’t pick it up, but if that doesn’t bother you I highly recommend it.
P.S. I recommend checking out the audio version, listening to this elevated my experience even more!