You by Caroline Kepnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Joe Goldberg works in a bookstore in New York. One day, a gorgeous girl walks into his store, and Joe is immediately transfixed. She charms Joe in their brief encounter and so he searches for the name he saw when he swiped her credit card. He lucks out, easily finding Guinevere Beck all over the Internet. In fact, she seems to live a great deal of her life publicly on Facebook and Twitter, allowing Joe to digitally watch her from afar. But quickly, Joe begins to actually watch "Beck," as he learns she is called: hiding outside her apartment and eventually arranging a chance encounter. Beck and Joe's lives quickly become entwined, as Joe becomes more and more obsessed with his perfect girl. Beck thinks Joe could be the ideal boyfriend, and he's determined to be just that: no matter what it takes.
Oh my, I have some mixed feelings about this book, but ultimately wound up rating it 4 stars simply because I just couldn't put it down, and I don't think I will stop thinking about it anytime soon. I actually found myself feeling suspicious of other people during and after reading it, as if being watched -- that's how good Kepnes was at weaving her tale of stalking and obsession. Joe is a fascinating character, and you become almost immediately sucked into his delusions. The book is told from his point of view, and it's written as if he's speaking directly to Beck. Once you become used to that, it's compulsively readable.
This is not a book full of characters with whom you will love and empathize. Now I admit that there were times that Joe felt so normal that you forgot he's basically batshit insane, and sometimes Beck herself (the victim, you have to remind yourself) is pretty terrible, too. This is a book about awful people doing terrible things to everyone in their lives. It's dirty (Joe's brain is not a pretty place) and dark, so dark. It dragged a little bit for me about 3/4 through (it's a pretty long book), but picked up very quickly as it neared the end.
In the end, I found this book to be amazingly intense. I continued to have complicated feelings for Joe up until the last pages. The novel is certainly a warning about our digital age and how easy it is to have your digital footprint (and subsequent actual life) invaded. It's also a twisted story of obsession. It will keep you turning the pages late into the night (with the curtains CLOSED).
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