Sunday, 16 October 2016

Book Review: You by Caroline Kepnes

Title: You

Author: Caroline Kepnes

Pages: 422 pages

Publication: 18th June 2015 by Simon & Schuster

Reason for reading: I knew this was a thriller that had got mixed reviews, so I was curious to find out what I thought of it myself

Synopsis: When Guinevere Beck walks into the bookstore, Joe Goldberg becomes infatuated and does what any sane person would do: googles her. He finds her tweets, her public Facebook profile, her plans for the night. Using everything he can get his hands on, he takes control of Beck’s life and stops at nothing to make sure she ends up in his arms.


I really really enjoyed this book. It’s been a while since I’ve read a thriller which was not only genuinely different to others available on the market, but was also executed well. It was everything I expect from a thriller: clever, chilling, and thought-provoking.

I cannot convey enough how creepy this book is. It’s told in the second person by Joe Goldberg, as if he’s talking to Beck, the girl he becomes obsessed with. What makes this style of narration so good is that it shows Joe’s stream of consciousness, and as a reader you see the justifications for what are some truly terrifying actions. Joe almost makes you believe that he’s the good guy in all this, he’s the rational one! And then he does something sickening, and you snap back to reality where Joe is a predator and is taking control of a girl’s life using social media.

“Look at you, born into my world today”

Now onto Beck. To begin with, I thought Beck was your typical girl-next-door who could do no wrong, but as the story progresses you learn more and more about her and it’s made clear that she’s not the likeable character you think her to be. She lies, she messes with people, and she has big daddy issues. I liked how she isn’t the perfect innocent victim.

I didn’t feel like there was consistency in pacing throughout the book. For the majority, I was hooked and didn’t want to put it down before finishing it, but around the 60-70% mark I felt like the plot dragged. I got bored, and the reason I carried on reading was because I wanted it to be tense and exciting again, which fortunately did happen, so it was really only that 10% of the book where pacing was an issue.

As mentioned, social media is a large part of this novel - Joe is able to stalk Beck so successfully because of how much she shares on various websites. Tweets are sometimes used to explore Beck’s character or to cover Joe’s actions, but sometimes I felt like they missed the mark and were a bit cringey. They came across as how older people think younger people use social media. However, this was a minor criticism that didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment too much.

Finally, I felt like a few of the scenes had a lot more potential. For instance, Joe commits murder and in my opinion it was glossed over and very staccato - very much “I did this and then they were dead now moving on”. I wasn’t sure whether this was intentional or not - on the one hand it could have been very detailed and disturbing but on the other hand maybe this was the best way to demonstrate Joe’s rationalisation and matter-of-fact attitude.

Overall, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s original and scary - how much information do you share on social media? I’m a bit unsure as to how to story can progress in the sequel, nevertheless I cannot wait to get my hands on it and satisfy my curiosity (edit: you can now read my review of the sequel, Hidden Bodies here!)

Edit 26/12/16: I haven't been able to stop talking about and recommending You since I read it; it's a book that has stuck with me, and for that reason I am increasing my rating to 5 out of 5 stars.

Have you read You? Are you intrigued? Let me know by commenting below, or contacting me on Twitter!
Happy reading,