Book Review: You

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

You by Caroline Kepnes

2.7/5 stars, to be precise

To say my feelings are conflicted about this book is a huge understatement. At times I wanted to give it five stars. At many other times, I would have preferred to give it one or two. So I suppose a middle ground is this 2.7/5, which still doesn't feel *quite* right. Regardless, I'm sticking with it.

I'll also preface this review by saying that I listened to the audio book version of this book, which I don't often do, and which may have had some effect on my opinions of it. It's quite possible that on paper, some of the parts of this book sounded a lot less creepy and weird and disturbing than they did being read aloud by a real man.

*This review may contain some minor spoilers, but nothing life changing or book ruining*

First, the things I liked about the book: It is completely unique. Kepnes' writing style in You is not one you read often. The use of second-person narration at first seemed totally cool and awesome (though by the end was driving me insane). The plot is suspenseful and has many unexpected, thrilling and shocking moments. The pacing is quite fast and doesn't leave room for many boring or dead (pun intended, hehe) moments. The characters are well established, even if you hate almost every single one.

However, I also had many complaints. All of the reasons I started out loving the book were among the reasons for my disliking it by the end. The main character, Joe, and his narration style of referring to the object of his obsession (also known as the other protagonist, Beck) as "you" constantly and obsessing over her every action and movement became repetitive, monotonous and disturbing to me.

Also, this book was so damn creepy (sort of in a good way, but not really). Seriously if there are real people out there who think and act like Joe does, I don't think I'll ever sleep again. His obsession is haunting and the things he does that he convinces himself are "for the best" are terrifying. He's definitely a psychologically fascinating character with numerous disorders or serious issues, which does give the book a nice layer of intrigue and depth. However, he's then also a total douche as well as being a total stalker and psychopath, which actually made him much less interesting to me. In my opinion, a mentally disturbed character, while creepy, is also interesting and worth reading the perspective of. But a sexist ass is someone I find much less appealing to listen to.

Joe, as a narrator, is also incredibly repetitive and delusional. Some of the phrases he uses are repeated so many times I thought I might scream the next time he used one. My note to the author: when you come up with a cool, creepy or usable phrase, don't overuse it to the point where it's mind-numbingly painful to hear even one more time.

Lastly (at least for now), I can certainly handle graphic violence, language or sexual content in books. In fact, as long as it's well-done, I enjoy any of those. However, this book was a heavy-handed on all three, particularly the sexual descriptions. At times, I began to wonder when it became an erotic novel instead of a dramatic thriller. Seriously, a bit too graphic and a bit too much. Those who are thinking of picking this book up should definitely keep that in mind.

All in all, I didn't totally hate this book, but for someone who started out really enjoying it, it says a lot that I gave it a low rating by the end. There was a lot to like in this book, but also a lot that was aggravating, disturbing, or just redundant. I also can't say whether I would have enjoyed it more in a print version with my own mental voice narrating, but it's definitely possible.

Frustrations: 4.5/5
Creepy Factor: 5/5
Suspense: 4/5
Cover: 4.5/5
How Much I Hate Joe: 10/5
How Much I Love Ethan: 7/5
Audio book Narration: 4.5/5 because his voice is awesome, 2/5 because it made me feel alarmed

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