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.