The Other Side of the Page: Books and Comics

Book Review: You

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You captured me from the very first sentence and didn’t let go. You is the story of a love affair between Beck and Joe, but it’s no where near a romantic comedy. Unless, of course, you ask Joe. Joe meets Beck once and becomes smitten with her, positioning himself to be protector.

Trigger warning: Joe is a stalker. The copy makes that very clear, but I’m going to do my due diligence and state it.

“When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams.

Beck doesn’t know it yet, but she’s perfect for him, and soon she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect façade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences . . .A chilling account of unrelenting passion, Caroline Kepnes’s You is a perversely romantic thriller that’s more dangerously clever than any you’ve read before.”

You is written in second-person, giving us a window into every single thought and action of Joe. The beginning of the novel frames Beck as an unlucky girl caught up in a very bad game of cat and mouse, where she’s unaware she’s the mouse, but then gradually we learn things about Beck through Joe Goldberg, the villain/love interest of You.

Joe starts off sweet:

“If we were teenagers, I could kiss you. But I’m on a platform behind a counter wearing a name tag and we’re too old to be young.”

You would think that a second-person narrative would be irritating, but as soon you meet Joe, the narrative quickly sheds any hinderance of being drawn into the story. In fact, it does the opposite. You is not only a psychological thriller, it’s also a thriller that exposes just how open we all are, especially in this age of connected social media. Joe is able to figure out who Beck is beyond her credit card, and is open to a whole world of her, and her friends through social media. He can see where she lives because she hashtags it, and who her friends are, and where they plan to go. Armed with this knowledge, it’s very easy to find out more about his mystery girl, and get close to her but then, Joe quickly proves that he’ll do anything to keep keep Beck.

“It’s like the kitchen in that movie where evil rich Michael Douglas tries to have Gwyneth Paltrow murdered because she falls for a poor artist. Everything is stainless steel or marble and the island in the center is the size of a small car. I can’t remember if the poor guy gets Gwyneth in the end of the movie and it feels like it matters a lot right now.”

As with most thrillers, there are probably a few instances where you may need to suspend your disbelief as to how certain acts would go undetected by the police, but because You takes us into Joe’s mind, we see him discuss and dissect his movements methodically, and fret when he doesn’t take enough precaution. The wry intimate voice of Joe makes up for those moments for me as well.

“Work in a bookstore and learn that most people in this world feel guilty about being who they are.”

If you like Gone Girl and the stories of messed up love, you’ll probably love You. Hidden Bodies, the sequel, just came out in March.



Bri is the founder and co-editor of What the Fangirl. She loves chai lattes, Disney and fairy tales.

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