I never realized how much I wanted for a psychopath to be in love with me, until I read this book.
Allow me to explain.
If you take away the whole, breaking into her apartment, and her friends house, stealing her phone and going through her private emails… abducting her boyfriend, locking him in a cage and ultimately killing him… he’s a really awesome guy! I mean, he is attractive, has a job (unconventional one, but hey, I love to read!). He likes to make sure to do things that he knows she would like and apparently isn’t too bad in the romance department either… a real winner! And with the way the dating game seems to be going nowadays, woman can’t be too picky.
But in all seriousness… I believe this was the point Caroline Kepnes was trying to make when she sculpted this story. She wants the reader to be oddly aroused by what would normally be terrifying and dangerous. Typically when we see a story like this, we either see the victim’s side, which, of course, always tends to lean towards the unnerving and scary side. We watch as they go from mild interest in a stranger, to being violently thrown into a world they never saw coming and were desperate to escape. The victim files a restraining order, talks to her friends on a cordless phone as they hopelessly stare out of a rain smudged window onto their lawn, lightening flashes and wait was that him?! Oh no… just Mr. Robinson from next door walking his dog Pickles… it’s all so very predictable.
You, in a sense is predictable in that, the reader know this girl is going to die. You can’t really escape that. And honestly, had it ended in an arrest as she tearfully thanks the officers for their protection, it wouldn’t have done the book justice. These are characters we rarely see in stories. The stalker is usually a nerdy, pimple-faced loner who has probably only gotten action from a blowup doll and his hand… in this story, however, Caroline makes our antagonist attractive. He is still a bit of a loner, but don’t we all love that hot bad boy? We like illusion and mystery, so we follow his dry humor and sarcastic journal of thoughts (much like thoughts we have ourselves but tend to keep that… to ourselves for a reason)… he’s likable! Not only is he funny AND mysterious, but he saves her LIFE! I mean… dreambooooat.
But then you watch as he lures Benji into the cage… yes, the cage of a bookstore? And tests him… on his own grading scale. Was he for certain going to kill him? Maybe not? We don’t know… maybe he was all along and just liked playing God. Don’t all psychopaths? You watch his say things that make you giggle, or say something a tad erotic and you think “OK Joe!” But in the next breath, it’s just a little too far and you feel that uneasiness as if to think…how am I liking this guy?! Am I crazy?! But no… you’re not, and that’s exactly the underlying point here. We don’t know anyone. Joe could be your neighbor, the guy at the Target checkout, the person sitting next to you and your family while you are out for dinner… It’s easy to fall prey to people whose entire life is wrapped up in this fantasy they’ve created.
I also really enjoyed how Caroline didn’t just put all his crazy out there immediately… she inched it out in pieces, little by little. She wanted to reel you into Joe, and then throw out little bits of freaky to disturb you, in the best way possible. As the book progressed, she would give you more intense details. But he would also be more intensely interesting. He had to be to keep Beck’s interest. She was flighty and had her own issues and is probably just as crazy as he is, just not, you know, a murderous stalker, but still… she’s nuts. Maybe if she wasn’t trying to screw everything that had a penis, she would have noticed the signs sooner? Maybe not, but with all that said… the book ends with Joe meeting a new girl. A cliffhanger of sorts and although we know what will happen, and hope that it doesn’t… we have to admit within ourselves… we liked him too.
I leave you with with a really simple. Really rich, but delicious recipe!
1 chuck roast (I have no idea how much this one weighed… it was larger than I’ve gotten at Whole Foods. Costco had some BIG ones, but it fit in my dutch oven and crock pot)
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3-1/2 bottle Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce
- Preheat oven to 325 and massage salt and pepper mixture into the roast. Trim thick excess fat off the edges.
- Heat olive oil on medium-high in a larger skillet. Sear your meat on all sides (about 2 minutes each side)
- Pour 3-4 tbsp of the sauce in your dutch oven, then place your roast on top and pour the rest of the sauce over. Cover your pot and place in the oven for about 3 hours or until it pulls apart with your fork or tongs.
**Note: I always use Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper because it gives a nicer flavor to any meal. I use almost exclusively fresh vegetables. Spices I just use the bottles because I can’t keep plants or herbs alive… but it’s fine. I use Extra Virgin Olive Oil as well**