Book Review · Books · Picking Stitches

[Picking Stitches – Book Review] You, by Caroline Kepnes

This book came to me via Christa over at A Voluptuous Mind. She raved about it as her Book of 2015, and well, then I just had to read it didn’t I?

Spoiler Alert!  I am no good at non-detailed reviews. Also language. Do I spoil alert for an instance of the C word? 


Blurb / Summary

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the bookstore where Joe works he is instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: tough, razor-smart and sexier than his wildest dreams. He’d kill to have her.

Soon Beck can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. When a string of macabre incidents tears her world apart there is only one person she can turn to. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realises and much more to Beck than her perfect facade. The obsessive relationship quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences…

The Good

  • Joe is charming, funny and smart. Even with all the fucked up psychopathic bits, I found it impossible not to like him.
  • It was really interesting to consider the danger of social networking via this book. Beck’s whole life is laid open for Joe’s obsession, through how much of herself she blithely shares with the internet. It made me think about my own attitude to social networking and how much share!
  • I really love how dark it is, set against Joe’s frank wit, it makes for black humour and I enjoyed that.
  • So many great film and book references. (I now have a  intense desire to watch Hannah and her Sisters.)
  • I couldn’t decide whether the fact that I wasn’t repulsed by Joe a good thing or a bad thing, but in the end, I’ve gone with good, because it’s a testament to how well his creepiness is balanced out by his charm.

The Bad

  • I guess I wish there’d been more consequences for Joe’s actions. It seemed a little easy for him to get away with his crimes.
  • Although I came to love the second-person narrative (it definitely works with Joe’s obsession that this entire book almost read like a love letter to Beck) it did take me a few chapters to get used to!
  • It was over too quickly? Luckily for me, there’s a sequel to You, and it’s winging it’s way to me right now!

Favourite Part
I actually really enjoyed the interplay between Joe and Benji, twisted as it was.

Favourite Quote
It’s hard to pick just one, because Joe is very witty and forthright, and honest. So here are the ones I couldn’t pick between:

Top favourite. I laughed. I will take that balloon and stab the fuck out of and at the same time I will take that balloon and tie it around Peach’s neck because WHO THE FUCK CAN CUNT OUT OVER A BALLOON?

I also laughed here. “I peeked in the bag. Do you know what was in there? I’ll tell you what was in there: a collapsible tray table. Is there any sadder purchase in this fucking world? Maybe a CD of C+C Music Factory’s Greatest Hits, but that’s about it.”

Because this was such a good description. “the problem with books is that they end. They seduce you. They spread their legs to you and pull you inside. And you go deep and leave your possessions and your ties to the world at the door and you like it inside and you don’t want for your possessions or your ties and then, the book evaporates. You turn the page and there is nothing.”

Out of Ten
9 1/2. Purely because I never give anything 10, in case something even better happens to me. I bloody loved this book. 

Overall thoughts
It’s strange when you actively find yourself rooting for a serial killer, but that’s what I found happening while reading You. Of course, objectively I knew Joe was totally fucked up, his mind logically justifying his killing, but I sort of liked him anyway. He’s intelligent, frank, darkly funny and it probably helps that our victim, Beck, is as dislikeable a character as I have ever read. She’s quite frankly a flaky, manipulative, lying bitch. At various points throughout I had the feeling that Joe deserves so much better, when in actuality, Joe deserves prison and therapy. I also started feeling a bit bad for him, because while he worms his way into her life, he thinks that he knows her, inside and out. Yet you (and he) are confronted with moments that tell us that he really doesn’t, and I think for Joe, that hurts more than any betrayal. It’s a shame he had to be a murderous stalker, but I guess he wouldn’t be who he is without that obsessive personality.

The danger of social networking was also a really interesting angle. It’s interesting because the idea of Facebook stalking people / potential love interests is not that frowned upon, I mean, who hasn’t Facebook stalked a potential date, or an ex, to make sure you’re doing better than they are? So, when Beck first comes into Joe’s life and does a little flirting and hands over her credit card, him noting her name and looking her up is not that fucked up.

To take the jump from that to the obsessive behaviour he then shows is, obviously, and that he can access so much of her through her online sharing is scary and also worth pondering for more than a minute.

Notice how my “bad” bits section for this book is a little flimsy? That’s because I really loved it, and had to scrape the barrel for bad points. This book taught me a thing or two about stepping out of my genre comfort zone, because there were no spaceships, or dragons or magic or time travel and I still devoured every page and loved it. Next time I think a genre isn’t for me, maybe I should try it anyway. Or maybe I should just always trust Christa’s excellent opinion.

Hayley Margaret

Do you have restrictions on your social media? Have you read You? What did you think?


2 thoughts on “[Picking Stitches – Book Review] You, by Caroline Kepnes

  1. Oh lordy, I am DELIGHTED by this review. You’ve captured all my own thoughts about it perfectly and also made me want to read it all over again. Joe is such a great character, he’s so multi-faceted. Sometimes I felt even protective of him and that is very weird. I am excited to discuss the sequel with you. I also cannot wait for Caroline Kepnes to write another book, hurry up already, love! Great review, HM, I love the details xo


  2. Loved this book! I listened to the audio, so I was able to hear Joe and his voice was amazing. I listened to Hidden Bodies too, so good! I didn’t want the books to end and definitely was in mourning when they were over. Can’t wait for the next one! I’ll be doing my blog post on these two this week and also a giveaway for both books signed hardcopy. Loved them! 💕


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