My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In the follow-up to the twisty You, Joe Goldberg is back. Our conflicted and confused protagonist, Joe, has a history of falling quickly in love, stalking, and... murder. In fact, he's left a string of hidden bodies in his wake: four of them. After a brief romance in his native New York ends, Joe decides to head to Los Angeles. There he finds a job in another bookstore, joins Facebook (for real this time), and meets a new girl. But Joe remains haunted by his past in New York. After all, secrets have a way of catching up with you. Joe thinks he may have found real romance this time, but will his past deeds prevent true happiness?
I absolutely loved the first novel in this series, YOU, which introduced us to Joe, who is far more messed up and "stalkerly" than the paragraph above belies (if you sort of gloss over the four bodies part). I read YOU while on vacation and basically tore through it in one day. It also had me looking over my shoulder for days, feeling watched: it was that good. Alas, for me, the follow-up, while good, didn't have that same sinister "can't put down" feel as the first. It's still an intriguing book, and it's interesting to learn more about Joe in his saga, but it just wasn't the same. It didn't quite capture the same desperate yet somehow loveable nature of Joe in the first novel for me. While I didn't want him to be caught (that's how good Kepnes is at writing him), I wasn't rooting for him quite as much. There was something a little off about his loveable nature that came across so well in YOU, even as he was literally burying bodies in that novel.
In fact, in Hollywood and L.A., Joe seems a little more normal, which is laughable, since he's obviously a serial killer. The book is told in that same sort of breathless rush of words (straight from Joe) as the first, but there were parts that dragged one for me. Lots of details about Hollywood, actors, etc. In this novel, Joe has a lot of drama due to his new girlfriend's family, particularly her brother. Also, while we feel his fear as his past crimes seem to be closing in on him, he somehow seems to be able to effortlessly commit new ones: it's sort of strange. Things that seemed more believable in the first book were harder for me to stomach in this one. I'm not exactly sure why.
Still, the entire saga of Joe is fascinating, I won't lie. I'm clearly in the minority--based on other reviews--in not completely loving this book, so if you liked YOU, you should definitely pick up HIDDEN BODIES. And I did enjoy it, I just didn't adore it the same way I liked YOU. I was certainly intrigued by parts of it and quite compelled to find out what happens to Joe. He's a character like no other in fiction, and I'd definitely read a third book to find out what happens to him.
You can read my review of the first novel in this series, YOU, here.
View all my reviews