Caroline Kepnes' debut novel, You, is one of those books that makes you feel so dirty, you want to wash your hands after reading it ! It's a chilling, disturbing but nevertheless riveting descent into obsessive love - actually, I am very reluctant to use the word love because, although Joe Goldberg, the main protagonist, would declare his pure and undying love for Beck, he is a depraved stalker more than a romantic pursuer.
As the book is written entirely from Joe's viewpoint, it takes you a while to realise quite how twisted he is. Although it's obvious (to the reader) that the things that he is doing aren't quite normal or morally sound, he does seem almost justified to begin with - he may be sneaking around in the dark following her but she is drunk and he does end up saving her life; her current boyfriend is a total jerk and her best friend is a neurotic manipulator. It reminded me of Dexter - when watching the series (or reading the books), you can almost start thinking that being a serial killer is a good thing because his victims deserve what they get ... until you take a step back and think hang on, no, that's NOT right at all, he's a murderer ! Well, Joe is equally charming, and the fact that he is surrounded by a bunch of low lifes and total users makes his actions seem less despicable to begin with, then he starts really crossing the boundaries of what is acceptable and you start to question everything he says - are these people really so bad or is he just biased? Joe eventually starts shifting his own viewpoints and, as a reader, you get sucked into a wild vortex of dark, disturbing, contradictory feelings and passions so that's it's almost a relief when it all stops.
Joe will end up being a character that everyone loves to hate. I still haven't quite decided how I feel about the other characters though and I'm almost tempted to go back to the beginning and start again, this time trying not to let my emotions and opinions be coloured by Joe's dubious views.
Love it or hate it (and it will undoubtedly inspire both reactions), it's a book that will not leave you indifferent and you'll be hooked by the end, desperate to find out just how low Joe can go in his depravity. I could see this being adapted for the big screen, in which case I'd love to see what the right actor could do to bring Joe to life. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it !
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £12.99
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd (25 Sep 2014)
Disclosure : I received an advanced reading copy of the book in order to write an honest review.
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