Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Book Review: YOU

Wow! Can I just say wow! YOU by Caroline Kepnes blew me away. I had only heard good things about it and it had been calling to me lately, so I finally decided to pick it up and I'm so glad I did. If you've seen the show or read the book, you already know what this is all about. Girl walks into a bookstore, boy falls in love, boy turns into a stalker and does everything her can to be the most perfect boyfriend, which includes the occasional murder.

I'm a big fan of the show but I had never read the book before and I get worried that when I read the book after watching a show/movie that it won't be as surprising, but this book does not disappoint. From watching the show I already know there are some real differences but the craziest thing is the mind games this book plays on you.

While reading the book I realized that we never get an actual physical description of Joe. Since I had already watched the show, I of course pictured Penn Badgley as Joe. In the book, Joe is a lot more sexually explicit and makes us feel like he is only obsessed with mainly having sex with Bec or doing sexually explicit things to her. Without this physical picture of Joe, it is easier to be grossed out or discussed by him or feel that he is not a likeable character. Even though as the reader I know the things that Joe is doing are wrong, there is some part of me that still found myself rooting for him in certain situations. I realized those situations were only when he was pit against another less likable character, such as Peach, who is pretty annoying in a self obsessed, aloof kind of way. There are even situations with Bec where she definitely does something wrong and as the reader I kind of felt for Joe in those moments. I'm not the biggest fan of Bec to begin with and I usually find myself being overly critical of her and the choices she makes as a 24 years old single white woman. I just wanted her to make better choices and stop being so self absorbed.

In my opinion, the show really brings out the shallow side of all human beings and points to the fact that if you're good looking, you can get away with almost anything. In the show, Joe is just as creepy, but because his creepiness is paired with the good looks of Penn Badgley, we have an easier time excusing his obsessive behavior. Whenever I watched the show I always found myself addressing how "charming" Joe was when in reality he's a sociopath and is just doing a good job at "acting" charming. With the addition of Paco, the young boy who lives in the abusive home next door, we are meant to see another side of Joe, a more compassionate and caring side. Without Paco, Joe is just a single man living alone in NYC with nothing better to do, who begins obsessively stalking a young girl in order to become her everything.

This book reminded me a lot of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. In particular, Joe reminded me a lot of Patrick Bateman, who is basically a "grown up" version of Joe. American Psycho is such a fucked up book and YOU is honestly just as fucked up.

I'm blown away that this is Caroline Kepnes' first book and I can't wait to read more by her.

If you love unsettling modern day thrillers then this book is for you!


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