You by Caroline Kepnes

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

In all seriousness, this book is probably going to put me back several years in the world of dating. I mean, seriously, I can’t remember the last time a piece of fiction has had me this paranoid, and had me going this many times over every interaction I’ve ever had with a man.

And that is the magic of Caroline Kepnes’ You.

I really, truly enjoyed large parts of this book. It was insane, totally unlike anything I’ve read before, and a definite page turner. Joe’s character was particularly interesting to me (obviously) because I loved getting to see his jumping between relatively sane thoughts and total lunatic behavior. He contradicted himself, in his words, his reasoning, his actions, his thoughts.

I paid particular attention to the way he described Beck. When comparing her to Karen, he said that Beck would never repeat something she said like Karen did. Yet Beck does repeat herself, a lot, particularly when we get to the full-psycho-Joe end scene. I noticed him do this a lot surrounding Beck’s actions and character traits; he was completely wrong about her multiple times, but he either insisted on thinking of her a certain way, or he changed his mindset and said whatever she did was okay with him.

Now, none of his misconceptions would have been a problem had he not been positively frightening. But I think we’re all in agreement on that much.

Except maybe for the people who claim they are attracted to Joe after watching the Netflix series. (But maybe the show is really different from the books and portrays him in a new light? I wouldn’t know.) Regardless, whoever wants him can have him. Believe me, I’m not trying to steal him for myself. Please, take Joe and stay far, far away from me.

Another aspect of You that I only now realized, as I’m writing this post, might be the scariest of all. At the end (not the full-psycho-Joe scene, but the end-end), Joe sees Amy again and decides she will be his next girlfriend. That’s creepy in general, of course, because Joe’s a pretty scary dude. But beyond that, I spent the whole book thinking there was something wildly unique about Beck that drew Joe to her. The ending proves this wasn’t the case. There isn’t something super special about Beck or Candace. Joe would stalk and steal from and murder any girl who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Which means any of us could meet a Joe Goldberg. Goodbye to my next few nights of sleep and my next few years of dating.

All of this, I devoured. What an enthralling story and a wild ride.

The only little, tiny thing I didn’t like about the book (tiny, really) was the fact that I can’t remember one page that didn’t make a sexual reference. Like, a descriptive, completely-overdoing-it reference. In moderation, it’s okay. But every single page? Woah. It was honestly a lot, and by the second half of the book, I’ll be honest, I was lagging a bit. I started to get bored. I understand that the characters are hypersexualized–partially on their own, and partially through Joe’s eyes. But seriously, it just got a little boring to me after a while. And I can only be bored for so long before docking some stars. (I’m sorry, I didn’t want to.)

For this reason, I’m going with a 3.5/5 on a pure vibes basis only. That’s the only way to rate books if you ask me. If I feel it, I feel it. If I don’t, I don’t. And if, like You, I feel it but I also don’t, it lands here, in the 3.5 star category. I’m satisfied, but I could certainly be more satisfied, you know?

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