My Book of 2015: YOU by Caroline Kepnes

7I can’t recommend this thriller highly enough and have so far rammed it down the throat of at least three fellow readers and gifted it more than once.

It’s the kind of book that you recommend but then instantly regret doing in case it’s not received as well as you’d like. So far reports have been fantastic but it still makes me nervous.

This thriller is so good that in some ways it’s spoiled me for other books in the same genre. I mean, how can they possibly compete?

But to the book itself.

It’s just really well written. Pitch black and peppered with film and book references, we’re given great insight into the mind of fucked up, yet somehow likable protagonist, Joe Goldberg.

Joe is a young, moderately successful man living in New York. He runs a bookstore and one day spots beautiful Guinevere Beck browsing the shelves. He does what every modern man would do, Googles her name (which he gets from her credit card) and stalks her online.

What follows is a dark tale of obsession, competition, loss and good old fashioned horror. I’m reticent to give too much away because a lot happens and it’s intricate in its design. It’s also genuinely terrifying in places.

As Joe fights to win the heart of the woman he claims to love, it soon becomes apparent that he’ll stop at absolutely nothing. Will he get what he wants or is it more complicated than that? Can a man like Joe ever truly be sated, even happy?

The thing about this book to me is that Joe feels like a neurotic Woody Allen type (Hannah and Her Sisters is quoted/referenced a lot) which lends it a retro feel, while still keeping much of the action, particularly the stalking element very modern, leaning on the pitfalls of social media for support.

This only makes the tale seem more real and potentially scarier. If we were all as careless as cavalier Beck with our online security, could we expect the same fate?

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Photograph not mine

Caroline Kepnes mentions Bret Easton Ellis as one of her influences on goodreads.com and you can really feel that in the tone of YOU.

Joe Goldberg is easily comparable to Patrick Bateman. Sure the former may be glossier, wealthier and bolder but Joe has certain Bateman qualities. Though Bateman kills for sport, it seems Goldberg justifies his blood lust as necessity and this is where they differ.

More often than not I just kept asking myself why Joe had to be this way. Surely he could just find a nice available girl and settle down? He’s obviously desirable, intelligent – but compulsion doesn’t work that way I guess and someone like that doesn’t just stop.

It’s harder to put your finger on why Joe isn’t completely repellent and that might have something to do with the fact that most of the other characters, including Beck and her best friend Peach, aren’t much better. They’re snobs and bitches and frankly, just not nice people. This doesn’t mean they deserve bad things but it’s easy to get it all twisted while reading this book!

I’ll park up here and just say what I’ve been saying for months: read this book. You can thank me later.

And you know the beauty of YOU, beyond everything mentioned above? There’s a sequel, and it’s good.

Book details:

  • YOU
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (18 Jun. 2015)
  • ISBN-10: 1471137376
  • ISBN-13: 978-1471137372
  • Bought paperback (new)

LA by Night: The Informers Review

Bret Easton Eliis book covers

I have read lots of Bret Easton Ellis and enjoyed him. I know what to expect from his detached writing style, his nihilistic characters, his familiar yet alien settings. The Informers is not surprising in any way. The sex and violence are just the little flourishing kiss marks you would expect Ellis to sign off with.

There were elements though of this book that made me feel very tired. The complete lack of hope for one, coursing through most of the stories. The tale of jaded rock star, Bryan Metro particularly. You’ll be horrified by his actions, though not surprised and that’s how the book tends to make you feel. Like you should feel more, that your reactions to the horror unfolding before your eyes should be stronger. But they’re not.theinformers

Set in the eighties, if you were a child growing up in this era like I was, you will love all the references to times gone by. You’ll look upon the lost (and found again) fashions with fondness. You won’t like anybody. You’ll be ready for rehab by the second story and like me, you’ll flip each page and be surprised your fingers don’t come away coated in coke.

It’s a bloody good read but it isn’t for the fainthearted. There’s a story in there about an unspeakably bad act committed to a child which almost halted proceedings for me. Then I remembered that scene in American Psycho and it doesn’t even compare (rats, prostitutes, standard).

The next book I’m going to read is about love. Suffering and sacrifice, sure – but no drugs.

Incidentally, Lunar Park has been my favourite BEE so far. Check it out if you’re after something that will mess with your mind and leave you in pieces behind the sofa!

Book details:

  • The Informers
  • Publisher: Picador (1994)
  • ASIN: B00KQJ7B66
  • Bought paperback (secondhand)