Review - You, Caroline Kepnes

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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.

Book Review

YOU is one of those books that I've been hearing murmurings about for ages, so when it was talked up by a local publicist who knows her crime fiction well it became required reading. Having said that, I'm well aware that it has also garnered mixed reactions so all in all, quite an intriguing read.

It doesn't take long to identify some of the likely causes of the mixed reactions. YOU is a creepy, sobering and realistic story about stranger obsession which is enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It's discomfortingly, worrying and more than a bit weird to spend time with somebody talking intimately (in their own heads) to the source of their obsession. 

The you of the title is a young college student / writer living in New York. She's a typical millennial girl, who lives her life in a public stream of Twitter, Facebook and email, willingly surrendering privacy to the point where she's even given up closing curtains in her apartment, regardless of what she's doing / when she's completely nude. It does feels like a very realistic portrayal, made even more disconcerting by something narcissistic, almost wanton about her as well.

The narrator is a seemingly charming, normal, well-read, good looking young bookshop manager. Yet readers may quickly come to believe that he's sociopath. He's certainly obsessive, manipulative and chillingly entitled. 

So not a necessarily likeable pair of characters, but extremely believable and identifiable. Which ends up setting up a very interesting scenario for a reader, who will be confronted with a disconcerting plot of obsession and manipulation, in a manner that's very current day, and feels particularly insidious and particularly scary as much of it revolves around our technological lives. 

Everything in YOU therefore wrong-foots the reader, creating a challenging reading experience of very intimate personal time with rather unpleasant people, wrapped up in obsession, fuelled by the manipulation of technology to control.

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