Sunday, 13 November 2016

Book Review: Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes

Title: Hidden Bodies (You #2)

Author: Caroline Kepnes

Pages: 400 pages

Publication: 16th June 2016 by Simon & Schuster

Reason for reading: You was one of the best thrillers I’ve read because of its creepiness and originality, and I needed to satisfy my curiosity about the sequel!

Synopsis: Our protagonist Joe moves to L.A. to leave the past - and the bodies - behind. He sets up a new life but is constantly looking over his shoulder, worried that his secrets will catch up with him. When he falls in love, he again proves that he’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants and keep his secrets buried.


Firstly, a note on narration. What made You so wonderfully original and creepy was the 2nd person narration, and so there was a temptation to feel a little let down when I found that Hidden Bodies was told in the 1st person. After considering this though, I quickly realised that it was the best decision Kepnes could have made - the 2nd person narration was effective, but it had already been done, and using it again not only wouldn’t have produced the same effect, but it would have probably dulled the effect You had.

The move away from 2nd person narration meant that we got to know Joe more without the main focus of an obsession or his consequent murderous tendencies. The problem here is, these tendencies were exactly the reason I was reading the book in the first place. It made it all too easy to forget that Joe is a serial killer, which was all part of the thrill in You - you found yourself sympathising with him and agreeing with him but were quickly reminded of the fact he was an obsessive stalker and murderer. This was just entirely lacking in Hidden Bodies.

That’s not to say that Joe is a reformed character in Hidden Bodies - he does still kill people. These murders, however, weren’t as exciting, and I think this was because there was a different motive behind them: in You, Joe was trying to get the girl, but in Hidden Bodies he’s trying to cover up his past and prevent someone from finding out. Whilst they were less exciting, these murders did help to convey a feeling of it being possible for Joe to be caught at any time and of the past catching up to him, which is where most of the tension came from. In the end though, this wasn’t enough tension to live up to You.

All of this doesn’t mean that Hidden Bodies is a bad book. The characters introduced into the story are vibrant and interesting and I felt weirdly sorry for them all, getting caught up in the L.A. dream. Love is a particular favourite of mine because she goes off into a completely different direction at the end - I did wonder whether this direction was believable but either way it definitely added excitement.

Another thing to mention is that I never felt like leaving the book unfinished; the writing was so beautiful that I couldn’t help but read on. Joe’s dark commentary was enjoyable as ever and his striving for normality was entertaining, it’s just by the end I had the feeling of ‘was that it?’.

Hidden Bodies suffers from being a sequel to an incredible book. Whilst it isn’t bad, it just wasn’t necessary. The story in You just did not need to be continued. I don’t regret reading Hidden Bodies, but I also don’t feel like I’m any better off having read it. Overall, I gave it 3 out of 5 stars.