Series: You #1
Published by Simon and Schuster Australia on October 1, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
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From debut author Caroline Kepnes comes You, one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of 2014, and a brilliant and terrifying novel for the social media age.
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.
For a 21st century woman, there is nothing scarier than a stalker breaking into your home and knowing everything about you. You takes it further by finding out absolutely everything he can about Beck, by going through her phone, reading her emails, and watching her through her window and then becoming her lover.
You gives us so much more than a villain’s point of view, it shows us his sick obsession with his object of affection and how he would stop at nothing to become everything she needs in life. It’s told in second person perspective which makes the story even creepier, as Joe relates absolutely everything back to Beck, or You. His thoughts, feelings, everything he does in life is made with the aspiring and flighty writer in mind, and it really demonstrated how she unknowingly permeated every aspect of Joe’s life.
Did I mention that you’re lucky to have me? You are. I am a BedStuy man by birth, sober, collected, and well aware of my whereabouts and yours. A protector.
And the bullshit thing is, if someone saw the three of us, well, most people would think I’m the weird one just because I followed you here. And that’s the problem with this world, with women.
The use of social media and phone access for stalking is incredibly genius, given how smart phones are windows to our lives these days. Passwords, locations, tweets, instagram, email and even addresses can be found online, and that’s how Joe infiltrates Beck’s life, transforming himself into her perfect man. It really highlights just how much we put ourselves out there and if someone wanted to, they could find out everything just from knowing where to look. It made the stalking aspect completely plausible, and all it takes is someone like Joe.
Joe is obsessive, intelligent, intense, a sociopath and so freaking creepy. He clearly has no sense of right or wrong, and even references how easy it is for other weirdos or stalkers to stalk Beck, but doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with his own behaviour even when he breaks into her house. His obsessive behaviour becomes dangerous when he targets the people around her, from her crush to her best friend in order to get closer to her and eliminate the obstacles in his way. Being in Joe’s head is compelling, twisted and creepy, but what makes it even scarier is from Beck’s point of view, he could actually be seen as an attentive, charming guy. I loved how he worked in a bookstore, and how there’s a theme of literature and reading throughout the book, making it all that more intelligent and unique.
“This isn’t love. This is sick.”
Beck was an interesting sexual and flighty character, who just couldn’t stick to one guy. She wears her heart on her sleeve and pursues guys that she can’t have, but just can’t commit to a relationship. She’s complex, flirty, creative and so incredibly real, it was easy to see how Joe wanted to know everything about her. The romance was one of the most fucked up ones I’ve ever seen, with Beck seemingly using Joe as a “friend with benefits” and Joe obsessively manufacturing everything in the relationship. Joe has disturbing sexual thoughts of Beck throughout the book, which makes it even more creepy.
You is a compelling, twisted and dark story of stalker obsession that is designed to make us feel uncomfortable. The use of social media, literature, flawed characters and second person perspective creates authenticity for this brilliant, creepy story. This is the best psychological thriller about stalking I’ve read, and I don’t think any other can live up to it.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.