Book Review: You by Caroline Kepnes

You.  What a read!  I think I found this one from a Goodreads suggestion – and boy, am I glad I did.  Like most people, when I saw the cover for You: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes my eye went straight to the quote on the cover.  If Stephen King says something is “hypnotic,” you take note.

“Hypnotic and scary…Totally original. Never read anything quite like it. A little Ira Levin, a little Patricia Highsmith, and plenty of serious snark. ” – Stephen King

This book is airing as a Lifetime show right now, starring Penn Badgley.  Hey, hottie!  If you’re not a book person, watch the show – but there are odd things that they added that aren’t in the book.  For the most part, I think they really nailed the TV version of what it’s like to read the book from Joe’s point of view.  Reading the book really puts you into Joe’s head and you find yourself relating to him.  I’m four episodes in and the show is so good.  I was afraid they would butcher it since the books are so intense and Lifetime can be so cheesy but I’m happy to report I was wrong.

I have to say, I love that they chose Penn Badgley to play Joe because I think that it helps fight the stigma that many of us have that “the creepy guy” actually LOOKS like a “creepy” guy.  Wake up, ladies!  This is a total myth.  I will never forget sitting in a self-defense workshop when the teacher asked, “What does the ‘bad guy’ look like?  Does he look like a ‘bad guy’?  No.  He looks like everyone else.  He looks like your friends.  Statistically speaking, he’s probably someone you already know.”  Wow.  This had really never occurred to me before.

That being said, I’ve recently become more and more aware of how freely people share very intimate details from their lives on social media.  Joe uses this in the story to “run into” Guinevere after she tweets about going to a bar that night.  He then continues using her social media to stalk her and it simply escalates from there.  This really made me think about all the times when people post when they’re “going” to a concert or event of some sort on Facebook or sharing pictures on Instagram counting down the days until they leave for vacation.  Do we really know who’s watching?  Do we really think about how much information we’re sharing with the 1,437 people who we’re “friends” with online and what they could do with it?

“There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: …”

This book is written as if you’re reading someone’s thoughts.  I loved this because it’s different and it’s not perfect.  Normally this might seem kind of messy to me but I found I really enjoyed it.  It reflects the inner chaos of Joe’s mind and brings it right into your head.  Crazy thoughts?  Now they’re your crazy thoughts, too.  Whoa.  I had to know what he was thinking and what he was going to do next.  It creeped me out but I was invested.  I was officially a passenger on the crazy train and all I could do was keep turning the pages.  I would read this from the time I returned home from work until I eventually fell asleep reading it in the wee hours of the morning.  I read it during my lunch break and listened to it while I was driving.  I couldn’t put it down.  This book is just so well written.

When I finished You,  I immediately bought the sequel, Hidden Bodies and dove in head first.  Just like in the first book, Joe really makes you reconsider how we ignore people who are right in front of us while telling “the internet” all of our likes, dislikes and plans. Also like the first book, as I was reading it and relating to Joe I just really wanted him to be a good guy.  He seems like a good guy to those around him and he’s really good at playing the part.

I’ll share more of my thoughts about Hidden Bodies in another post but until then – YOU should read You.  If nothing else, watch the trailer for the show I’m embedding below and then rethink how you share your life with strangers online.

Also, I found this awesome playlist that someone created for You on Spotify. Start with this version of “I Want You to Want Me” while you read.  You’re welcome.

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