You Love Me, Caroline Kepnes: A Five-Star Review of the Newest Joe Goldberg Obsession
OKAY. So I know this book isn't due out until April. but I couldn't help myself. Seeing this beauty sit in my queue was too much temptation, and I had to dive in.
Following the fallout from (You and Hidden Bodies), Joe moves to the small town of Bainbridge where he volunteers at a library and finds his new love interest: Mary Kay. A mother of a high school senior, Joe must overcome several obstacles in order to perfect his pursuit. But in true Joe Goldberg fashion, he'll stop at nothing to prove to his love that they were meant to be together. The third installment in the series, I couldn't wait to see what happened to Joe, and Kepnes did not disappoint. I'll be raving about this book until it comes out and then some. First of all, it is a difficult thing to find a balance between stream of consciousness writing and propulsive plot. Joe goes on numerous tangents, but they never feel long-winded and they add depth to his character. I find his voice so interesting: charming yet repulsive, engrossing yet terrifying. Yes, you will root for him to succeed in his manipulations, but you'll also experience this moment of dissonance (several moments, actually) where you'll be thoroughly creeped out by his actions. Kepnes has nailed this depiction of a sociopath, and in her masterful execution of the plot, I found myself questioning perception. Joe's perspective of a seemingly-innocuous detail--the choice of wardrobe, a look, a topic of discussion--is often warped, and it adds an underlying layer of unease. Joe's behavior is disturbing, not romantic, yet he uses his intelligence and harmless persona to lull and attack. Kepnes demonstrates how easy it can be to be coerced, manipulated by someone like Joe, and wow, she does a great job narrowing in on the implicit fear we have of letting our guards down for the sake of love. On another note, this book is hilarious. I don't know what it says about my sense of humor, but I laughed out loud at several of Joe's internal dialogue moments. Kepnes' structure of conversation with another character interrupted by his own thoughts worked really well for me; it kept things interesting and upbeat in spite of some truly dire situations, and I cannot wait to see if she continues this to a book four. I will say that if you haven't read books 1 and 2, but you have seen the Netflix series, I think you'll pick up on this one just fine, so don't worry if you're thinking of joining in the middle of the game. Some of the plot requires a willing suspension of disbelief, but I don't think most readers will be deterred by some minor sensationalism. Joe's voice is so distinct, you won't have trouble following along--and it is SO WORTH IT. Overall, You Love Me is an electric, jump-off-the-page thriller with a chilling protagonist you wouldn't want to meet in real life. Add this book to your TBR immediately, and in the meantime, binge You on Netflix for the third time. Huge thank you to Random House and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.