We are almost done with the A to Z Blogging Challenge, and I’ve already written about a bunch of thrillers of various stripes, mysteries, and crime novels for 26 days in April, based on the letters of the alphabet. All posts are linked here.
Since I’m writing up thriller and crime novel recommendations, I’m also giving away a 50 USD Amazon Gift card, to support reading, and to help my next novel THE BLUE BAR along on its journey. LAST TWO DAYS TO ENTER!!
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After X by Sue Grafton, I bring you You by Caroline Kepnes.
You by Caroline Kepnes : Book Description
When a beautiful aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.
There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.
As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.
A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, debut author Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age.
You by Caroline Kepnes: Excerpt
Calm down, Joe. They don’t like it when a guy comes on too strong, I remind myself. Thank God for a customer and it’s hard to scan his predictable Salinger—then again, it’s always hard to do that. This guy is, what, thirty-six and he’s only now reading Franny and Zooey? And let’s get real. He’s not reading it. It’s just a front for the Dan Browns in the bottom of his basket. Work in a bookstore and learn that most people in this world feel guilty about being who they are. I bag the Dan Brown first like it’s kiddie porn and tell him Franny and Zooey is the sh*t and he nods and you’re still in F–K because I can see your beige sweater through the stacks, barely. If you reach any higher, I’ll see your belly. But you won’t. You grab a book and sit down in the aisle and maybe you’ll stay here all night. Maybe it’ll be like the Natalie Portman movie Where the Heart Is, adapted faithlessly from the Billie Letts book—above par for that kind of crud—and I’ll find you in the middle of the night. Only you won’t be pregnant and I won’t be the meek man in the movie. I’ll lean over and say, “Excuse me, miss, but we’re closed” and you’ll look up and smile. “Well, I’m not closed.” A breath. “I’m wide open. Buddy.”
“Hey.” Salinger-Brown bites. He’s still here? He’s still here. “Can I get a receipt?”
“Sorry about that.”
He grabs it out of my hand. He doesn’t hate me. He hates himself. If people could handle their self-loathing, customer service would be smoother.
“You know what, kid? You need to get over yourself. You work in a bookstore. You don’t make the books. You don’t write the books and if you were any good at reading the books, you probably wouldn’t work in a bookstore. So wipe that judgmental look off your face and tell me to have a nice day.”
This man could say anything in the world to me and he’d still be the one shame-buying Dan Brown. You appear now with your intimate Portman smile, having heard the motherf*cker. I look at you. You look at him and he’s still looking at me, waiting.
“Have a nice day, sir,” I say and he knows I don’t mean it, hates that he craves platitudes from a stranger. When he’s gone, I call out again because you’re listening, “You enjoy that Dan Brown, motherf*cker!”
You walk over, laughing, and thank God it’s morning, and we’re dead in the morning and nobody is gonna get in our way. You put your basket of books down on the counter and you sass, “You gonna judge me too?”
“What an *sshole, right?”
“Eh, probably just in a mood.”
You’re a sweetheart. You see the best in people. You complement
“Well,” I say and I should shut up and I want to shut up but you make me want to talk. “That guy is the reason that Blockbuster shouldn’t have gone under.”
You look at me. You’re curious and I want to know about you but I can’t ask so I just keep talking.
“Everybody is always striving to be better, lose five pounds, read five books, go to a museum, buy a classical record and listen to it and like it. What they really want to do is eat doughnuts, read magazines, buy pop albums. And books? F*ck books. Get a Kindle. You know why Kindles are so successful?”
You laugh and you shake your head and you’re listening to me at the point when most people drift, go into their phone. And you’re pretty and you ask, “Why?”
“I’ll tell you why. The Internet put porn in your home—”
I just said porn, what a dummy, but you’re still listening, what a doll.
“And you didn’t have to go out and get it. You didn’t have to make eye contact with the guy at the store who now knows you like watching girls get spanked. Eye contact is what keeps us civilized.”
About the author, Caroline Kepnes
Why pick up “You” by Caroline Kepnes
Well, of the many reasons you choose a book, being entertained is one. On that count, this book delivers, fair and square. Throughout, you’re in the mind of a (loyal, book-loving) sociopath, who breezily describes the many ways in which he is violating the privacy of the object of his obsession.
I love a good voice, as you all must know by now, and this novel is clever and seductive in its use of a version of second person: the entire book is sort of a letter from Joe to the woman he is stalking, and who he persuades (cons) into becoming his girlfriend.
Beck is no snow-daisy herself, and has a bunch of flaws. Her unlikability, and the amount of time you spend in his (funny, witty, casually cruel) brain makes you actually root for him sometimes. He’s the worst kind of boyfriend, but well, he’s diverting and urbane and charming in a way so many sociopaths are. His voice, in a distant way, reminds me of the protagonist of American Psycho–but in a more entertaining, if crass and creepy fashion.
It makes sense, too, because Kepnes wrote him at a time when she had vocal chord damage, had her identity stolen through student-loan debt, her mother underwent surgery and her father lost the battle with cancer. She made Joe her voice, and channeled all her grief and anger into Joe’s creepy-good-ness.
Read it for the voice, reminiscent of Lolita and American Psycho, and I though I loved hating Joe, who knows, you might even end up liking him!
Have you read the book “You” by Caroline Kepnes? If yes, what did you think of it? What crime novels have you read lately ?
Through the month of April, to celebrate the challenge and get some support for THE BLUE BAR, I’m holding this giveaway, and tomorrow is its last day!!
Enter to WIN a 50 USD Amazon gift card for this
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This sounds creepy and fascinating at the same time.
It is. It is a tough read at places, but the voice is worth it.
This seems like an enjoyable read, especially since sociopaths are always charming, with an iron fist within their kid gloves.
Seems like an intriguing read especially since if I understand correctly is from the antagonists point of view
Yes it is. It is simultaneously intriguing and revolting, which I think is at the root of its success. It is sort of the same genre as Lolita, though Lolita takes that revolting part to an extreme.
Mm… I’ll have to skip this one. I’ve already started reading the Whisper Network and it’s really good 🙂
Glad you’re enjoying Whisper Network!
It sounds fascinating – and really good. I love the writing style of the excerpt. But I know it’s not for me 🙂
Then again, it’s a good things some things aren’t!
Yes, absolutely 🙂
Is the Netflix series YOU based on this book? The storyline feels similar. I saw first part of the series and the guy gave me the creeps!
Yes, it is the Netflix hit that made this book famous.
You’ve introduced me to a heap of new authors and their books (I’m an avowed author-reader). My favourite crime authors have long been Ian Rankin and Michael Connelly and more recently Louise Penny. Yes they are popular fiction but there is insight in their books, at least for me. I’ve been reading lots of little known authors lately and enjoy ones that develop the characters, both the key person and the team around them. I also want to learn more about where they live and it’s attributes – Google maps becomes my friend once they’ve hooked me in.
Only Z to go for you. It’s been a great series.
Those three authors have been my reads too. So many to choose from, really. Love that you take such deep interest in characters. When I write, I try and do my best to get the settings right, because, like you, I read up more on the locales where the books are set.
I’m glad I added to your TBR, and I hope to keep seeing you post AZ as well!
Oooh. Your stunning review and synopsis reminds me (again) that sociopaths do well in our society. Sadly. As always, thank you – and drat you.
Yes, certain sociopathic qualities are extremely well-rewarded in modern societies. I’ll miss being dratted after the challenge is over, Sue.
What a great A-Z challenge. I’m a fan of thriller, crime books, and You sounds like a good one. Haven’t thought of using the second person in a story, but it works well in You. Thanks for introducing it. 📚🎶 Christine
Glad you like it, Christine. I haven’t watched the series, but have heard it is good.
What a great run..of books! Where ever did you find all of them? You’ve got me thinking about something similar – like good, lesser known works or something like that. Opens one up to a whole new world of stories. Thanks so much!
Denise, most are books I’ve read over years, though this one was a relatively recent read. Yes, a series of lesser known books would be wonderful–publishing hypes up a few, but readers might enjoy others, too.