You by Caroline Kepnes
Published by Atria/Emily Bestler Books on September 30, 2014
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
The only thing crueler than a cage so
small that a bird can’t fly is a cage so
large that a bird thinks it can fly.
Thanks to You, I look over my shoulder more often and make sure my blinds are closed tight. Stephen King had it right when he said this book is hypnotic and scary.
What originally captivated me about You many years ago after it first came out was the fact that it is written in second-person. Sort of. Let me tell you though, it has been hard dodging spoilers with the popularity of the show growing over the last two years. And after reading I just have to say, if you are romanticizing Joe Goldberg in anyway (I’m looking at you, Twitter.) take a moment to recalibrate and revisit the inner workings of his mind.
Joe Goldberg works at a bookstore when one day Guinevere Beck (Beck) walks in and becomes the object of his obsession. And he won’t let anything, or one, stand in his way.
Being inside of Joe’s head was not a place I was comfortable being in. Sometimes my skin crawled and I wondered how someone could genuinely see the world this way. However, I was engrossed and needed to know what happened next. Joe is also such an unreliable narrator I have no real grasp on these character’s and who they actually are. Their actual personalities bled through the pages at times but it felt like snippets of the truth and not the entire image. It’s Joe’s world and I was just living in it.
You, a word this book has no shortage of but is perhaps I think the most powerful tool Kepnes used in writing this story. The constant use of “you” when he refers to Beck puts you in her shoes. You are not just an onlooker in third person or a slightly disconnected first person. It’s like you are being talked to directly. At times I felt like I was Beck and Joe was talking to me. Giving me his stream of consciousness. The writing flowed much like the voice inside all of our heads do, which made it so easy to fly through the pages.
Despite Joe’s complete and consuming obsession with Beck, I didn’t really like her as a character. I felt bad for her that she landed on this side of Joe’s attention. But I didn’t see what Joe saw in her. Even she didn’t see what Joe saw in her. She’s flawed which makes her a good character. She isn’t wholly perfect and polishing a halo every day, but despite the great character building I can’t say I like her.
You has many quotable lines and interesting thoughts it brought to the table. There were many sections of Joe’s inner monologue I wanted to highlight. But mostly by the end of it I was happy to be out of his head. His head is dark and twisted. This story is definitely one that will stick around with you. Close your blinds at night, stay aware of your surroundings, and use complicated passwords! The night I finished the book the only thing I could dream of was this storyline. It’s definitely worth the read, but I can’t say I completely fell in love with the book.