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review 2020-04-02 09:33
You: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes

This is one of the few occasions where I think that I liked the screen adaptation better than the book itself. I have to admit I saw the Netflix series first, which sort of spoiled all the plot-twists in there, but I also found Joe's voice in this one more annoying.

Sure, in the beginning there was some fun seeing Joe pointing out what is wrong with everyone he meets while blatantly missing the fact that he is the most messed up of them all. But this did get old rather quick. I still have Hidden Bodies to read, so I hope the second season deviated more from the books. 

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review 2019-03-21 03:59
Baa Baa Dumb Sheep
You: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes

2 stars Audiobook: After having this book recommended to me for years by so many friends, I gave it a go. I struggled with this one. It went from being monotonous to semi interesting for me. The main character Joe, was too much inner dialog, repetitive and boring. His mantras ticked away at my cares about the book till there was nearly nothing left. When the book ended I was relieved to be finished. The female character ? I finished this yesterday and I can't even remember her name right now. I do remember she was an sheep. I don't care about sheep. Why were all the characters so stupid ? They were all carrying big stupid sticks, not a drop of common sense between any of them. I'm still dumber, I bought book two when I bought this one. 

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review 2019-03-07 17:33
Sometimes You Don't Have to Write a Sequel
Hidden Bodies - Caroline Kepnes

Woo boy. The sequel to "You" was just flat out terrible. I read it immediately after finishing "You" and was disappointed. Kepnes decides to not have Joe tell his story directly to his love interest in this one. Also we ended up with Joe kind of all over the place. It seems like he is in love one minute and then ready to toss it all away the next. This isn't the same Joe who couldn't bear to be away from Beck for even more than a second. This Joe seems to be mimicking the guy in the last book. Also Kepnes weirdly throws Joe in a Hollywood setting and meeting famous people and I just lost all interest after a while. Eventually Kepnes remembers the first book and that pushes in here and there, but we don't get back to the events in "You" until really the end of the book. I also didn't like the love interest in this book (Love) because she didn't seem real at all. Maybe that's what Kepnes was going for, but I thought she was delusional as anything. The only person that seemed to have any sense and saw Joe for what he was, was Amy.


"Hidden Bodies" picks up almost a year after the events in "You." Joe is happy and in love again. He has met someone new, Amy, who is just as crazy about Joe as he is with her. They work in the bookstore together and even though Joe isn't a fan of Amy's grooming habits he is happy and in love. 

Quick aside #1 the Joe we met in "You" would never have put up with Amy's grooming habits. He would have either made her change or talked about it enough to make her do something about it. This was one of the instances while reading that I felt like Kepnes had switched around Joe's character. 


After a quick getaway back to one of Joe's crime scenes, Joe is shocked to realize that Amy has been playing him for a long time and managed to get away from him to become an actress in Hollywood. 


Quick aside #2, so Kepnes tries to explain this away by the fact that Amy is totally off the grid and Joe can't snoop on her the way he wants to. He does still get into her phone, but doesn't see anything there that alarms him. Frankly there are red flags galore around Amy and Joe isn't a stupid person (recall how he sussed out Dr. Nick) so him being shocked by the fact that Amy was planning on ripping off the store and getting away from him didn't seem realistic to me. 


Joe realizes that he needs to get away from New York, follow Amy, and kill her. Yup, the same guy who was in love with her a minute ago is now just straight up going to kill her. 

Quick aside #3, it would have made more sense for Joe to want to track Amy down to make her love him again or work on things, etc. because once again, see You book #1 and the events with Beck.


Joe is not in top form in this one to me and is written so inconsistently. He makes assumptions about mostly everyone he meets and most if not all, are incorrect. He is also weirdly obsessed with getting a blow job every five seconds. I found "You" to be in your face about sex, masturbation, and how much Joe loved sleeping with Beck. But in this one he seems like an oversexed frat boy. And when Joe finds another love in this one (via a character named Love that made me hard cringe) it didn't feel the same. He seemed ready to give up any time the road got tough with her. When once again, this is the same guy who straight up murders someone because he thinks the guy was making fun of him via his ex girlfriend. 


The secondary characters in this one don't breathe for me as a reader like Beck did to me. Love was insipid and one wonders why she would even look twice at Joe considering the other men she was with prior him. Joe's next door neighbor seemed sad and once again we don't find out much about her except Joe hates her because she's needy. In fact, in this one it seems like all of the women are needy harpies that just need to be told what to do via Joe and have hot sex with him. There's seriously a scene where Love tells Joe she doesn't like to have oral sex and Joe is upset about it and my brain just tried to run away from me. 


Love's family seemed one dimensional and even her twin brother Forty (why God, why?) just seemed like a rich boy stereotype. Kepnes was going in a different direction slightly with Forty and Joe and then she punted things and I thought that would have worked better than what we ended up getting in the end. 


The writing wasn't as engrossing in this one. I found myself getting bored reading about Joe following around his rich girlfriend and her family. It didn't seem to matter and his contempt for Beck and Amy throughout this book didn't ring true. Switching up the narration from Joe talking to Beck (the object of his obsession) to Joe just talking about random things and how much he hated and wanted to kill everyone he met was just boring. The flow wasn't good either. I think I fell asleep a few times here and there and finally at one point started to skim because I just wanted to get the book over with. 

The setting change to California actually wasn't a good idea. I don't know, it didn't seem real and Kepnes name dropping real celebrities after a while turned me off. Everyone in Hollywood is fake but Joe. Yes, murderous Joe is the only real person there. 

The ending was so weak. We don't know what future is ahead for Joe, but Joe sees his life as pretty perfect and one wonders if he isn't right. 

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review 2019-03-07 17:08
The Story of You
You: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes

"You" follows Joe Goldberg as he tells his love interest and eventual girlfriend (Guinevere Beck known as Beck) all about why he fell in love with her and how he has been doing his best to keep her safe from what Joe sees as negative outside influences. I found this to be a seriously creepy, and at times weirdly funny (in a dark way) book. I think that if  Caroline Kepnes had tried to tell this story via another medium (third person) it would not have worked so well. The ending was shocking in a good way. I also enjoyed seeing how parts of the book and recent television matched and where they differed. 


Joe meets Beck at the bookstore that he manages. He is instantly taken with her and realizes they have what he considers a "meet cute". And based on nothing, Joe has decided that Beck wants to know him, be with him, and he's going to do everything he can to make sure that they end up together. 


What can I say about Joe? He's delusional as all get out. Seriously. What is sad while reading this is him justifying what he's doing based on romantic movies that he has seen. And then I hard cringed because Joe via Kepnes is right about the messed up things that happen in romantic movies that we as women/men end up saying how romantic that is and not what a stalker the person in. In Joe's mind, how terrible is he for watching Beck through the big windows of her apartment while she masturbates when people loved it when Matthew McConaughey romanced Kate Hudson in order to get a job (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days).


I didn't like Joe, but I don't think Kepnes wrote him as someone you don't want to like. His justification for everything he's doing (stalking, murder, etc.) is that he loves Beck the best and therefore knows what is best for her as he tells her this throughout the book. Joe seems highly intelligent, but not socially intelligent, because Beck gave signals throughout this book how not into Joe she was and he is seen by Beck as the really nice guy that you go out with for a while, but not in a long-term serious thing.


Beck is a mess. Kepnes says a lot about how social media has ruled a lot of people's lives via Beck. Beck is on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. She tweets it seems every five minutes and as Joe is quick to point out, she puts stuff out there to make it seem like she is living the best life ever, but not really. And we know that Beck seems to want to be seen by everyone and can't help sharing her stuff publicly. We found out as readers via Joe that Beck has lied about things in her life, is not really dating a guy that is treating her as nothing but casual, and Beck's writing is just bordering on okay. And one wonders how Beck's life would have ended up if she never met Joe. 


Joe has nothing but contempt for most of the people he meets. Which begs the question why he is even trying to fall in love and wants Beck to love him. When he realizes that Beck is still hung up on a guy named Benji, Joe decides that Benji will be the first person that he shows doesn't love Beck the right way (or the Joe way). 


The secondary characters like Benji, Peaches, Dr. Nick, are nothing but people that are in Joe's way to be with Beck. I someone disliked Peaches more via the book than I did via the television show. Maybe because book Peaches was even more of crap which begged the question about how oblivious Beck is to other people acting terrible. The only two people in this book that have any sense are Beck's two other best friends who call her out on her crap. 


I thought the writing was clever. Kepnes writing the book the way she did with Joe doing the narration to Beck was great. It made it more intimate and you felt like you were trapped alongside Beck while Joe sits and tells her of the the things he did for his love of her. The flow was really good and I didn't see any weird stopping points. There were a few times that I held my breath thinking things were going to turn for the worse for Joe, but Joe seemed to have the devil's own luck from the beginning to end of this book. 


The setting of New York in this one seems to be a lonely and slightly claustrophobic place to me. Via Joe you are with him at the bookstore and with him when he follows Beck around. Even when he's with Beck, Joe is lonely. Because he needs to be petted and told how great he is every second by Beck. No one else is supposed to be more important to her while he is there, and even when he's not, why isn't he the uppermost in her mind. 


The ending was great and left you with a feeling of dread of what is going to happen next. 

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review 2018-08-30 17:14
Dark and Disturbing
You: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes

The novel YOU by Caroline Kepnes will soon be adapted as a new tv series this Fall on Lifetime.  It will be interesting to see how these characters are portrayed, especially since much of the setting takes place inside the narrator’s depraved mind.  Joe Goldberg works in a bookstore, and is a relatively attractive and intelligent young man who bristles a bit about his lack of a formal university education.  He is looking to meet a nice girl with similar tastes in reading, music and worldview.  He also is a truly sadistic sociopath who obsessively stalks potential soulmates with ruthless cunning and determination.  When Guinevere Beck (Beck) comes into Joe’s shop, she engages with him in playful, flirtatious way.  Joe is immediately smitten and uses social media to discover many personal details about Beck that he then uses to insinuate himself into her life.  He appears just as Beck is trying to sort out her own complicated love life, recently recognizing her tendency to be drawn to egotistical people who seek only to take advantage of her.  Joe acts the part of the refreshingly sweet and understanding man with whom she has so much in common.  Actually, he is just privy to an expanding amount of information about her and is contorting himself into her ideal companion. As he draws closer, Joe jealously eliminates any potential competition for her affection.  His desperation soon escalates into violence, and there are subtle hints that Beck may not be the first paramour to be trapped in his laser sights. Beck is portrayed as smart but clueless, and her naivete can become exasperating.  The novel slowly builds up unbearable tension as the reader begins to predict and dread where things are headed.  YOU is a bit long, with some unnecessary repetition and overuse of gratuitous vulgarity.  It is a very disturbing and uncomfortable experience to be trapped inside the perspective of such a truly odious character.  Still, it is a bit like a watching a horror movie that you want to look away from but need to know how it ends.

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