by Caroline Kepnes
“Hypnotic and scary… Totally original.” I’m quoting Stephen King. And since he is the King, I would never disagree with him.
OK, maybe just a little.
YOU by Caroline Kepnes is a disquieting story told in second person POV, which leaves the reader feeling a bit voyeuristic. We have a front row seat into Joe Goldberg’s mind, and it’s a disturbing place. The moment Joe sees the lovely Guinevere Beck enter his bookstore, he is smitten,or rather, obsessed, dangerously so. They exchange clever banter, and then, Guinevere (Beck, as she prefers to be called) does what most people do: she pays for her purchases with a credit card.
“ You didn’t have to smile or listen or take me in. But you did. Your signature is on the receipt. This wasn’t a cash transaction and it wasn’t a coded debit. This was real. I press my thumb into the wet ink on your receipt and the ink of Guinevere Beck stains my skin.”
That’s good stuff!
This story of a young man with an unhealthy and compulsive preoccupation with a young woman is filled with delusion, obsession and lust in the age of social media. All of us who dabble in that world (social media) should take caution. The methods Joe Goldberg uses to stealthily infiltrate Beck’s world is clever, disturbing and absolutely believable, (Kudos, Caroline Kepnes for making me think twice about what I share on Twitter). And again, using second person POV, made the story so much more interesting, and yes, addictive.
I love how Kepnes used references throughout of Woody Allen’s, Hannah and Her Sisters. Joe likens himself to Michael Caine’s character who falls in love/lust, with his sister-in-law, and creates a not-so-chance meeting not far from her apartment.
However, I wasn’t totally surprised by the ending. I saw it coming, just needed to know the how. So, there were no big surprises. And, I am no prude, not by a long shot, but there are scenes that would make EL James blush. There were several paragraphs I could have done without and wanted to skip, but didn’t for fear I would miss something. It seems Kepnes over used vulgarity and explicit sex scenes to shock the reader.
Finally, I did not like any of the characters. I rooted for the clever, fascinating, psychopath, Joe Goldberg. The other characters, all spoiled, ivy league, rich millennials who seemed to lack true ambition and in desperate need of an analyst. They made me reason with Joe’s actions, “Hey, Joe’s a dangerous, psychopathic, stalker, but they all had it coming.”
Perhaps, that is what the author wanted. If so,well done.