You (AKA, the Reason Why I Now Think Everyone is Secretly a Stalker)
You is one of the creepiest and best stories I’ve read in a long time. It came as a recommendation from a friend and fellow writer (which perhaps says something about what my friends think about me), and I’m incredibly glad it did, because I couldn’t stop reading it. This is not an exaggeration. I read it through my lunch break only to find myself downloading it onto my office PC’s Kindle app so that I could keep reading it onscreen while I worked. I can’t think of any other book this addictive.
You is the story about you. You’re Guinevere Beck, but you just go by “Beck.” You’re an MFA student and a writer (sometimes, when you’re not busy re-watching Pitch Perfect). You stop into Joe Goldberg’s bookstore one day and he’s immediately attracted to you—as you are to him. He’s charming and always seems to know all the right things to say. He’s smart and savvy even though he never went to college. He reads all the best books, and he’s always in the right place at the right time. If only you weren’t so wrapped up in your on-again-off-again fling with that one awful guy, then maybe you could see that you’re perfect for Joe, and vice versa. Because Joe would never let you down. He sees you and only you—pretty much 24/7.
Because what you don’t know is that Joe is watching you, gathering information about you, reading your e-mails, spying in your windows, and discovering everything he needs to know to prove to you that he’s your perfect man. And the more you see him, the more you start to believe that he is the one for you. But with Joe in your life, disaster seems to follow you everywhere, and you can’t help but start to wonder why.
Appropriately written in the second person, You is told from Joe Goldberg’s perspective as he digs himself into Beck’s life. Even as early as chapter two, it starts to become clear how sick Joe is—how much deeper his obsession goes than a little Facebook stalking. He quickly settles into more than questionable maneuvers to work out where she is, what she’s doing, whom she’s contacting, and why. And whenever you think he’s reached his peak, there’s always shockingly more to come.
And worse, as the reader, you almost want him to get away with it.
There were a few plausibility issues in this book, some of which I won’t list to avoid spoiling parts of the plot, but what it amounts to is this: everything is all too convenient for Joe. For example, when he manages to steal Beck’s phone early in the novel so that he can read her messages and check her e-mail, Beck never deactivates the phone, so he can keep using it as long as he wants. And not only that—Beck just so happens to use e-mail as her primary mode of conversation between friends rather than texting, so Joe can always spy on her with ease. How helpful. I can think of four or five things along these lines over the course of the book that made me think, “Wow, the author couldn’t have thought of a more believable way around that?”
I was torn on how to rate it because of these too-obvious escape routes, but overall, the novel’s can’t-stop-reading quality, well-written narrative, and fascinating character dynamics outweighed the obvious flaws.
OVERALL RATING (within genre): 5/5 Stars
TL;DR: If you can stomach it, You is a totally compelling and creepy stalker story that, in spite of a few technical flaws with the plot, will continue to haunt you for weeks to come.