You by Caroline Kepnes
You are a pretentious, narcissistic young woman named Guinevere Beck, Beck to all your friends, and you are the subject of affection in the novel You. You are an MFA candidate in fiction writing at Brown University and live in a shoebox of an apartment in New York. When you go to an independent book shop one day, a man, Joe, notices you, and you become his obsession.
Told in second person, as if Joe were talking to you and watching you, You is a creepy narrative which will make you, the reader, second guess your own morals and sanity while simultaneously increasing all the privacy levels on your social media.
Joe is a stalker, and very easily finds you (Beck) in real life – where you live, all your social media accounts, and even finds a way into your apartment and email. He’s a liar and a creep, but at times, you (the reader) finds sympathy with him, despite some of the horrific things he does.
The characters are all terrible, hoity-toity assholes that belong in a Bret Easton Ellis/Lena Dunham crossover. They think they’re better than they are, criticize the “common” person, and only find worth in things no one else likes. Beck is a writer who doesn’t write, and surrounds herself with people more effed up than she is, therefore bringing her down as well. She has daddy issues, runs from commitment, and manipulates those around her. I want to punch her.
The book is more sexual than I thought it would be; at times it is very graphic and borderline erotica, which fits with the narrator and themes, but it can also be disconcerting considering the circumstances. Also, those kind of graphic sexual scenes are not for everyone, and it’s best to be aware of them going in, especially since you’re reading from the POV of the stalker.
I thought it was interesting and horrifying to read from the stalker’s perspective; Kepnes did a great job building that character and the emotional state of him, but it’s also at times uncomfortable and hard to process.
I was hooked and wanted to know how it ended (even though I accurately predicted most of it), but didn’t enjoy the process.