Primary Genre(s): Thriller, Fiction
Published: 24 Sep 2014 (first publication)
Page count: 422
My Format: Audiobook via Overdrive
Cover: Original and Netflix cover both good
Would I recommend it: Yes
Commission Link: Buy You
My rating: ★★★★★
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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.
This book messed with my head! Wow! I find myself continuously thinking about this book since I finished it three days ago. I also watched the entire Netflix series with my husband (since I finished the book) and now he and I are discussing the story together! It was an impactful novel. Here are my pros and cons for You:
- First and foremost, this is a super scary look at the information we inadvertently provide to others about our lives on social media. We invite people in! We share our secrets, our location, our feelings, our meals, our likes and dislikes, our politics, our religion, our families… Think about all of the things you’ve shared on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. We are providing knowledge to others that can very easily allow people to manipulate, influence, or control us. Social media has its benefits, but if it isn’t used cautiously and smartly, it can lead to difficult and dangerous situations on many levels.
- I loved the writing style. The inner dialogue method was not only well-done, but it gave you an insight into Joe’s mind and that may not have been as effective if written another way. It was stream-of-consciousness writing at its best. As a reader you know every single thought and feeling that goes through Joe’s head. It was almost challenging to keep up with some of his random references and unconnected thoughts, but it was a challenge I embraced and loved actually. I don’t think I’ve read a book so disturbing in a long time and I credit a lot of that to the fact that we are completely inside Joe’s head and we are experiencing what he is thinking (consciously or subconsciously) the whole time – and Joe’s mind is a scary place to be!
- I thought it was kind of funny that the author took some small potshots at Stephen King in the story; however, Stephen King actually provided a blurb for the cover of this book – “Hypnotic and scary… Totally original”.
- I appreciated that Joe wasn’t the only person with serious issues in the book. Just about every character had some personality issues (at a minimum) or some more serious psychological issues. Interestingly, no one seems to realize they have any of these problems.
- I loved that the story involved a book store and I loved all the literary references. If you are curious about the books mentioned in You, click here for a list.
- One of the most unique things I experienced while reading this book was the fact that I sometimes found myself agreeing with Joe – at least with regard to his opinions about people. If you have read the book, I think you will know what I mean here. Joe has strong opinions about people and he definitely dislikes certain types of people, particularly when he perceives they are “in his way”. Take Benji, for example. There isn’t much to like about a person like Benji – narcissistic, arrogant, drug addict, philanderer, liar, entitled… the list goes on. I probably wouldn’t like someone like that either. I wasn’t rooting for Joe to do the things he did, but I did find myself frequently agreeing with his assessment of others. You will seriously want to hate Joe, and you should hate Joe, but you will also find that he is charming and sweet and he really just wants to be loved and that softens the hate. He was an incredibly well-written, completely terrifying character, and he will have an impact on you in some way when you read the book.
- Interestingly, Joe never turns that critical eye he uses to evaluate others to himself. He doesn’t see himself as ever having any bad characteristics or ever doing anything bad. How scary is it when he sees the bad in everyone else, but he never reflects on his own actions as negative in any way!? Joe is a complete and total psychopath.
- Housekeeping items – the writing was phenomenal (we covered that), the pacing was great, the characterizations were amazing, and the ending was shocking. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator (Santino Fontana) was amazing!
- As I listened to the audiobook I would look at the book cover on my screen (the Netflix cover) and I found myself staring in to the man’s eyes and that teeny tiny smirk on his face. It was almost hypnotizing and it was definitely disturbing. The Netflix cover is quite simple actually, but that smirk and those eyes… *shiver*
- While I enjoyed the inner dialogue tremendously, I felt that some of it got crass and vulgar. One could argue that it was just another method used to define who Joe was and what he valued, or how he viewed women, or any number of other points about his psychology – and I would probably even agree with those arguments. I still thought it got a tad graphic at times.
I read an interview where Caroline Kepnes states that “Joe is, in so many ways, the man of my dreams, attentive and smart, sensitive, passionate about books, people.” I agree! He is every single one of those things and he would be the man of a lot of women’s dreams – minus the psychopathy of course!
I did watch the Netflix series right after I finished this book. You lose a little bit of that inner dialogue look into Joe’s mind in the series and I missed that (although there was a lot of narration that tried to replicate that in the series). There were also some changes between the book and the series (new characters and story lines). However, overall, I thought the series was effective and well-done. In some ways the series provided a different view of Joe and it just succeeded in making him even creepier to me.
I think I will be thinking about Joe Goldberg for a long time. He is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever read.
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(image from Goodreads)