I picked up Caroline Kepnes You slap bang in the middle of revision procrastination. I needed something rough and ready and utterly ludicrous to take my mind off pensions and annuities and taxes (oh my!)
Enter You and it’s well dodge narrator Joe: a dirty great stalker. You follows Joe’s pursuit and very calculated wooing of Beck, who is sort of awful too. Not stalker awful but she’s definitely a bit off. The characters were reminiscent of Gone Girl in that I didn’t actually like either of them much at all but, weirdly, I did find myself empathising occasionally with Stalker Joe more than I ever could with Gone Girls’ Amy. He’s intelligent and sometimes funny and that does draw you in. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN??
The story isn’t particularly unique or ground breaking, it’s a classic stalker tale – boy meets girl in a jaunty old bookshop with a weird cell in the basement, boy steals girls’ phone and hacks her emails and social media accounts, boy engineers more meetings with girl and manipulates the hell out of her until….yeah. Until.
The hook is that the story is told by Joe with all the weird mind f**kery that involves. He is, of course, completely bonkers, and watching that unfold and intensify from his perspective was toxic but a bit fascinating. Joe’s actions to protect his ‘relationship’ get more and more extreme and it’s not always a pretty read but it is engaging. You really want to see how the whole thing unfolds, and if he ever realises he’s nuts.
So, the characters? Icky. The narrator? Compelling. The story line? Predictable and a bit ridiculous but entertaining nonetheless.
I’ve seen some reviews of You take issue with the (pretty prolific) modern tech references – Joe does his best stalking work through social media and email hacking. Actually I didn’t mind this at all, it kind of reminded me just how visible we all are online, how much of our lives we put out there (said the blogger…) and how easy it would be for someone to use that information for nefarious purposes. Creepy.
Read it if: you like the darkness, you’re a fan of an unreliable narrator, you liked the vileness of Gone Girl’s characters, you feel you should reign in the social media oversharing – You WILL do that for you.
Don’t read it if: you scare easy, you like a story with at least one pleasant character, you like shiny romance – for those who have called this a romance, yeah…no.
Have you read You?
If you’re snuggling up inside tonight instead of hanging out in the drizzle eating sausages, you could do a lot worse than this to pass the time.