Book review: You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes

Friday, April 16, 2021 Permalink

I’m generally a quick reader but You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes, the latest in the series featuring the charming psychopath Joe Goldberg, took me a long time (ie. several sittings) to read.

I’m not sure if I wasn’t sufficiently engaged, or if it’s because her style of writing requires significant focus and I can’t skim as I’m wont to do.

Despite that I enjoyed this book, certainly more than the second in the series, Hidden Bodies which I found to be rather inconsistent – in terms of its plot and pacing.

Book review: You Love Me by Caroline KepnesYou Love Me
by Caroline Kepnes
Series: You #3, Joe Goldberg #3
Published by Random House
on 06/04/2021
Source: Simon & Schuster
Genres: Psychological Thriller
ISBN: 0593133781
Pages: 400

Joe is done with the cities. He’s done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now, he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cozy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.

He gets a job at the local library—he does know a thing or two about books—and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kay DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle, he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old-fashioned way... by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they’ll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town.

The trouble is... Mary Kay already has a life. She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s... busy.

True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He’s ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kay will do the right thing and make room for him.

I’d had an early copy of this for a while but put off reading it as I hadn’t entirely remembered what happened in Hidden Bodies. I do recall however it appeared Joe would be going to jail.

Unfortunately Kepnes glosses over post-book events and it felt a little unsatisfactory. I haven’t watched the Netflix series based on these books but someone indicated that the second season, presumably based on Hidden Bodies, deviates from the book and I wonder if Kepnes has adjusted Joe’s journey to more reflect the TV series, which feels a little unfair to readers.

Joe seems to be more aware of the irrationality of his behaviour here and he tempers his thoughts and actions. He has more of an appreciation of the consequences (or what he calls injustice) of his psychopathic ways. He’s not worried about the harm he / his behaviour could cause others, rather the ramifications for him if he’s caught; stalking or behaving badly.

Fans will be relieved to know he remains incredibly delusional and is unable to stop the grandiose assumptions but is more purposeful in how he acts and responds.

Again this is written in second-person, as if Joe is writing to the object of his affection, here Mary Kay and for me the allure of this series is Kepnes’s writing and she gives us a witty and whip-smart narrator in Joe.

I’m interested to see if people find the style of Kepnes’s prose confusing. Most sentences are littered with Joe’s every thought. Those that leap into his mind, and those he tempers, as well as what he actually says out loud.

It’s very very clever and I love the wittiness of Joe’s stream-of-consciousness thinking and how he polices his thoughts as they pop into his head before further moderating how he responds to others. But at the same time I wonder if the dense text is something people either love or hate?

But she’s not honest with you, Mary Kay. After she blew you off with an LOL, she sent two follow-up emails to HR reps in Minneapolis. She’s allowed to make her moves but she discourages you from making your moves. She suffers and so she wants you to suffer and now she’s wide awake, pounding on the glass walls of my Whisper Room, screaming like a bad actress in a B movie. I crack my knuckles. I can do this. I can take on her voice. And I have to because the two of you text all fucking day. You type. Same way you do every fucking morning.

How’s life?

IT IS SEVEM A.M. WHY DON’T YOU WOMEN LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE? I breathe. This is the upside to this mess. I get to change your life. I type…  p 99

In many ways I feel as if Kepnes has created a proverbial rod for her own back with this series. Joe’s character is so outrageous there’s a sense that every book travels the same story arc. Similarly I wonder if she has to work too hard to give us sparring partners for Joe and I know the inclusion of multiple psychopathic types in Hidden Bodies (and probably here) is just a step too far for me.

That being said I really do adore Kepnes’ writing. I know she’s released Providence, which included an element of the supernatural (def not my fave!) but I’d love to see her write something that showcases her mad writing skills but offers something a bit different.

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes was published in Australia by Simon & Schuster and is now available.

I received an early copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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