On September the 9th, 2018, the Lifetime network will premiere their series adaptation of the debut that generated, arguably, the most crime fiction buzz the year that it was originally published. Daring, captivating, and with a taboo quality that has readers that love it declaring it a guilty pleasure, and others being equally offended by it, YOU by Caroline Kepnes is, still, one of the freshest, most original novels I have read in years!
Meet Joseph Goldberg. Joe grew up and lives in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. He was abandoned by his mother in the second grade, neglected by his father, and had a complicated relationship with Mr. Mooney, the owner of the Lower East Side bookstore where he has worked since he was a teen. Joe Goldberg is also a sociopath.
Now allow me to introduce Guinevere Beck. “Beck”, as she prefers to be called, is a Brown University graduate, an MFA student, and an aspiring writer living in a tony area of the West Village. Beck has personal demons of her own. She walks in to Mooney Rare and Used Books one morning, and becomes the object of Joe’s obsession.
You is told mainly in the second person present tense from Joe’s perspective. Joe’s voice is at once acerbic, cynical, snarky, witty, clever, and does not spare the reader obscenities and sexually explicit language and imagery.
Joe connives his way in to Beck’s apartment and in to the hard drive of her computer when she is not home. He later steals a mobile phone that she keeps active so her mother won’t know that she has lost yet another phone. Beck’s life, her thoughts, and much of her history is laid bare in her Facebook posts, tweets, online essays, and email communications with her friends and classmates. In this way, Joe is able to worm his way in to Beck’s life.
“Oh, Beck, I love reading your e-mail, learning your life. And I am careful; I always mark new messages unread so that you won’t get alarmed. My good fortune doesn’t stop there: You prefer e-mail. You don’t like texting. So this means that I am not missing out on all that much communication.”
“I love you for wanting a record. I love your records for being so accessible and I’m so full of you, your calendar of caloric intake and hookups and menstrual moments, your self-portraits you don’t publish, your recipes and exercises. You will know me soon too, I promise.”
You is an unsettling, creepy, and cautionary tale about the potentially dangerous public nature of social media, but at the same time, it is a tongue-in-cheek dissection of social media. No one is safe from Joe’s barbs, as he pokes fun at the gentry of Northeastern, Ivy League culture, and the novel is studded with film, literary, and pop culture references to great effect.
Beck describes Joe in an email to one of her friends this way – and it is precisely how I would describe this book. Ms. Kepnes’ unique, no holds barred writing manipulates the reader in to a kind of Stockholm Syndrome; the reader finds themselves surrendering to, and sympathizing with Joe, perhaps even being seduced by him.
Approximately one third of the way in to the novel there is also a very subtle shift in the narrative and the reader gradually begins to learn about, and question, Guinevere’s motivations........
I highly recommend the audio book format of YOU. Santino Fontana’s smooth-as-silk narration is outstanding!
From a police procedural and forensics standpoint, I questioned whether everything that occurs in You could happen in real life, but in this instance, I didn’t care, because I was thoroughly hooked and holding on to Caroline Kepnes’ words for this utterly addictive, beautifully twisted ride!
Best for Crime Fiction Readers:
Who enjoy reading novels of psychological suspense.
Who appreciate bibliomysteries. Please note that, while not overly violent, YOU still has a darker tone than many books in this category.
Who will not be offended by profanity, and explicit, sexual language in their crime fiction. YOU - like most of the books reviewed by Mystery in Minutes - is recommended for adult readers.
Who are intrigued by complicated, morally ambiguous characters.
Who enjoy listening to audio books. If you love listening to audio books, Santino Fontana's narration as the character of "Joe" is one that you do not want to miss!
Pages: 464 (Series Tie-In Paperback)
Length: 11 hrs., 6 mins. (Audio Book)
“Hypnotic and scary.” —Stephen King
“I am RIVETED, AGHAST, AROUSED, you name it. The rare instance when prose and plot are equally delicious.” —Lena Dunham
From debut author Caroline Kepnes comes You, one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Books of 2014, and a brilliant and terrifying novel for the social media age.
When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.
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: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.
As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.
A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age. You is a compulsively readable page-turner that’s being compared to Gone Girl, American Psycho, and Stephen King’s Misery.
MINM Overall Book Rating: 5/5 Stars
Are you looking forward to the series adaptation of the novel, YOU, starring Penn Badgley as "Joe", and Elizabeth Lail as "Beck"? It will be very interesting to see how true the Lifetime network version stays to the original book's content and tone.
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