Dark and Disturbing

You: A Novel - Caroline Kepnes

The novel YOU by Caroline Kepnes will soon be adapted as a new tv series this Fall on Lifetime.  It will be interesting to see how these characters are portrayed, especially since much of the setting takes place inside the narrator’s depraved mind.  Joe Goldberg works in a bookstore, and is a relatively attractive and intelligent young man who bristles a bit about his lack of a formal university education.  He is looking to meet a nice girl with similar tastes in reading, music and worldview.  He also is a truly sadistic sociopath who obsessively stalks potential soulmates with ruthless cunning and determination.  When Guinevere Beck (Beck) comes into Joe’s shop, she engages with him in playful, flirtatious way.  Joe is immediately smitten and uses social media to discover many personal details about Beck that he then uses to insinuate himself into her life.  He appears just as Beck is trying to sort out her own complicated love life, recently recognizing her tendency to be drawn to egotistical people who seek only to take advantage of her.  Joe acts the part of the refreshingly sweet and understanding man with whom she has so much in common.  Actually, he is just privy to an expanding amount of information about her and is contorting himself into her ideal companion. As he draws closer, Joe jealously eliminates any potential competition for her affection.  His desperation soon escalates into violence, and there are subtle hints that Beck may not be the first paramour to be trapped in his laser sights. Beck is portrayed as smart but clueless, and her naivete can become exasperating.  The novel slowly builds up unbearable tension as the reader begins to predict and dread where things are headed.  YOU is a bit long, with some unnecessary repetition and overuse of gratuitous vulgarity.  It is a very disturbing and uncomfortable experience to be trapped inside the perspective of such a truly odious character.  Still, it is a bit like a watching a horror movie that you want to look away from but need to know how it ends.