Author: Caroline Kepnes
Target Age Group: Adult
*Review contains spoilers
“Oh Beck, I love reading your e-mail. Learning your life. And I am careful; I always mark new messages unread so that you won’t get alarmed. My good fortune doesn’t stop there; You prefer e-mail. You don’t like texting. So this means that I am not missing out on all that much communication.”
When Beck goes into a bookshop, she has no idea that she will capture the attention of the employee there. Joe in instantly in love with Beck and decides that he must learn more about her so that she can realize that she loves him too. But getting to know her turns murderous when he realizes that there are many obstacles in Beck’s path to him.
Plot and Setting
This is one of the most unique books that I have read in terms of writing style. The story is told through Joe’s perspective but he is addressing Beck directly. This gives the book an ultimate creep factor that I haven’t found anywhere else. The concept of Joe speaking directly to Beck/the reader is what pushed this book to a 5 star read.
Be warned that this does not have a happy ending and will make you cringe so hard. I wouldn’t categorize it as gory, but it is definitely disturbing.
We get to be in the head of a deranged man who finds no issue in stalking, murder, and various other creepy behavior. It is very interesting to see the ups and downs of the story and how Joe goes from high to low in an instant all based on Beck’s decisions.
The reader knows Joe is the bad guy from the very beginning. But that didn’t stop me from finding his sense of humor hilarious at some points in the book.
“A photo essay (otherwise known as a fucking slide show)…”
Obviously, his occasional fun quips and interesting perspective on people, doesn’t make up for the fact that this guy has some major issues. I think I found it most interesting to see Joe rationalize his choices. We learn early on that he killed his last girlfriend but he blames her for his actions. Joe is the epitome of fragile masculinity and believes the world owes him something (even though he makes the same judgments about others around him). He must know that it is wrong on some level because he does attempt to hide his creepiness and stalking behaviors. Joe is smart and the only thing he fears is not getting what he wants.
My initial reaction to Beck is that she is not very likable. That doesn’t mean that she deserved to die, though. However, she may present as annoying because of the unlimited, unfiltered access that Joe has to her life. If we had someone watching our every move, we probably wouldn’t present in the best light.
The interesting thing is that even though Joe watches her lie, cheat, and make questionable decisions, he still thinks he loves her. I say think because what Joe feels is not love, it is obsession. So, he makes excuses and justifies her actions even when she rejects him. She can’t possibly not love him so Joe blames her friends. Eventually, he does have manic episodes where he thinks mean things about Beck but as soon as she shows him any sliver of attention, he acts as though those terrible thoughts never happened. It is certainly a roller coaster ride.
I do feel that this could have been a bit shorter but I liked how the author kept me on the edge of my seat, waiting for Beck or someone else catching him being a creep. You simultaneous want him to get busted because he is such a fucked up human, but also don’t want him to get caught because then the story would end. Overall, the pacing was satisfactory because I was still able to finish it in about a week which is my average reading time for a book this size if I am fully committed to the story.
If you find yourself entering a reading slump, pick up this book. I’ve heard mixed reviews from a variety of people on whether they liked this book and it really comes down to your tastes. I will say that this is full of trigger warnings for stalking, abuse, manipulation, and murder. It is not a happy feel good read, but it will keep you turning the pages to see what will happen next.
Have you read this book or is it on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!