Book: ‘You’ by Caroline Kepnes
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Genre: Mystery thriller
Time to read: 5 days
This week, I devoured You by Caroline Kepnes. I was addicted. I couldn’t to finish work every day so that I could curl up on the couch and read this book. In fact, I started to wake up before work, at 6:30am, to read.
S Y N O P S I S
Joe Goldberg is handsome, charming and ready to fall in love. When aspiring writer, Guinevere Beck enters the bookstore he manages, he is smitten. He has to see her again. So he looks her up online so that he can learn everything about her and set up another chance to meet her.
But she has secrets. She has flaws. She has issues. So Joe’s path to Beck gets a little more complicated, obscured and blocked by many people.
Their relationship soon spirals out of control and the darkness they unleash will have deadly consequences for everyone in their lives.
P L O T
I’m conflicted on how I feel about the plot.
Clearly, it was addicting because I couldn’t put this book down. Each page had a new issue that Joe had to overcome, and of course, his unique perspective spurred on the story.
Without spoiling anything, I do feel this book had lots of twists and turns that other thrillers don’t. However, as time goes on, the plot does become predictable because Joe has a clear pattern when it comes to his psychopathy.
Therefore, the plot became a little bit repetitive for me and I stopped wondering what was going to happen next, and just wondered when.
The plot heavily relies on Joe continuing being crazy, therefore, he needs to stay out of trouble for the sake of storytelling – which meant that a lot of stuff felt far fetched to me.
Plot – 7/10.
C H A R A C T E R S
In this book, all characters are as interesting as each other, even the minor ones.
I loved the way Kepnes wrote all her characters, and defined them in short little sentence bursts, here and there.
“There’s no kitchen, just an area where appliances are shoved together like clearance floor samples at Bed Bath & Beyond… You grew up in a big house with a backyard and a front yard. You like space. That’s why you leave the windows open. You don’t know how to be alone with yourself. And if you block out the world, there you’d be.”
These one paragraph, one sentence segments, really define characters, and I love it.
Joe is by far the easiest character to characterise because the book is written from his perspective, but he still surprises you sometimes.
Although I understood Beck & Joe and their actions usually were believable, I didn’t like them at all.
In a lot of reviews, you’ll see people claiming they were also charmed by Joe, and found themselves rooting for him, laughing with him and understand him. Personally, I didn’t get that. From the get go, I found Joe very creepy, and I definitely wouldn’t have fallen for his charm. (Maybe I listen to too many murder podcasts and am overly cautious…) I did struggle to find how someone could fall for him.
However, Beck is so well characterised that you can understand why she fell for him. She is a narcissistic egotistic attention-seeking young girl. The way that she is portrayed makes it easy to believe that she would fall for Joe’s charm.
In the beginning, and at a few times throughout the book, I did start to forget that this was a stalker story. I quickly remembered though, and wore my caution goggles again. So I think this is a personal thing, but even if Joe wasn’t a creep, I still don’t think I’d like him.
He’s overly protective, forcefully feminist, judgemental and above all, his most annoying trait, not funny. His inner monologues made me chuckle sometimes but his dialogue, the words he actually shares with other characters, is awful. I cringed so hard all the time because any time he says something that’s supposed to be funny, to me, it read a like a dad joke.
So, I really didn’t see what Beck particularly saw in him.
For example, after Joe and Beck a while without seeing each other, this is their conversation:
Beck: “Oh, come on, Joe. I see you and we get together and then I just disappear off the radar.”
I make a joke: “Actually, I was in the south of France on a top secret mission for the FBI.”
Beck doesn’t laugh and neither did I.
I just think that Joe could have been slightly more charming and relatable for it to be more believable why Beck was so drawn to him.
Characters – 8/10.
W R I T I N G S T Y L E
I loved the writing. It was one of my favourite things about this book.
The unique narration definitely makes it stand out, and the casual yet lyrical voice made it addicting to read.
Kepnes uses a lot of the writing technique called polysyndeton. Polysyndeton is a literary technique in which conjunctions (e.g. and, but, or) are used repeatedly in quick succession, often with no commas, even when the conjunctions could be removed.
For example: I agree to lunch and you’re gone and it’s a long walk to the shop and I’d like to hate Tucker Max and Maxim magazine and Tom Cruise’s character in Magnolia and think that women aren’t as simple as they’d all have you believe.
And: I could touch you I’m so close and I know you like my cologne because yyou and Chana lust after the bartneder who wears this cologne which is why I bought it and I open my present, my present to you.
So, yes. Lots of sentences like that. In fact, it happens at least once per page. So if you don’t like that breathlessness, this book will really annoy you!
Writing – 10/10
W O R L D B U I L D I N G
This book doesn’t need a lot of world building because it’s set in present-day America, where life is all hipsters and veganism. Joe does a fantastic job of hating everything trendy and pointing out inauthentic people who are on trend simply because it’s on trend.
I really enjoyed Joe’s rational side when it came to things like this, and because it’s set in contemporary society, the world building was on point.
However, if we’re going to talk about world building in terms of characters, and building their backstory – I WANTED WAY MORE OF JOE’S BACKSTORY! We had faded glimpses but it wasn’t enough for me. Him being the most complex character, I didn’t feel like I knew him deep deep down, despite being in his head the whole time.
World building – 9/10
P A C E
Pace for any novel is important because it is how the reader will remain hooked to the story.
For me, pace was pretty perfect, considering how hooked I was the entire time I read this.
As previously mentioned, the pace became repetitive so having already dropped stars there, I won’t repeat and drop the same stars here.
Pace – 10/10
E N D I N G
Ok. Okay. The ending.
I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO FEEL.
I think the ending made me angry.
I don’t think I was satisfied.
But it was one of those endings where I also think, MAYBE I AM? MAYBE I LIKED IT? MAYBE IT WAS THE MOST SATISFYING ENDING THERE COULD BE?
And of course, the ending is brilliantly written.
I do think, again, there were moments where I couldn’t quite believe what was happening, and a few things that felt out of character, but overall, I think it was quite fitting.
Ending – 7/10.
O V E R A L L E N J O Y M E N T
During my reading of this, it was all I could think about, talk about, crave.
Therefore, I can’t fault my overall enjoyment. This was the perfect reading experience. I was never bored, I was never lost, I never dreaded sitting down with this book.
I honestly don’t know how people could DNF this – it was like candy on the tongue.
Overall enjoyment – 10/10
If you are considering reading this book, I recommend it.
TW // sexual harassment, sexualising, dark thoughts, murder
S P O I L E R S E C T I O N
Okay! Hi, people who have read the book! Let’s talk spoilers…
Did anyone else expect Beck to survive this whole ordeal and get revenge? I DID. I don’t think I quite liked how Joe killed Beck and quickly moved on. It kind of felt like this whole journey was for nothing. But, I suppose that’s the case for murdering psychopaths. They are focused on one specific person for a time being, that’s their whole world, their whole obsession, and then they kill them, it’s over, and they find something else to obsess about. So I do understand but you rarely read a book where you don’t get a just ending.
The other thing I was totally expecting was that Beck knew about Joe the whole time. I really expected her to have caught on, and was playing a part, putting on an act, to reel Joe in and then do something even more messed up back to him. I think that would have been super cool but… hey, it didn’t happen.
PEACH! BENJI! CANDACE! Like, Joe, how long is this going to go on for? Joe is clearly so so so so bent, and it’s so interesting, but OMG I NEED ANSWERS. Why is Joe like this? What made him this way? How does he justify his actions?
As per usual, I wanted mooooooooooooooore!
Anyway, thank you for reading and feel free to discuss this with me on Instagram @bethsbookshelf at any time 🙂