Book Reviews

Book Review: You by Caroline Kepnes

YOU is a dark, twisted story that I couldn’t put down.

Joe Goldberg becomes fixated on Guinevere Beck the moment he sees her. They engage in small talk, flirt with each other a bit, and then she’s gone. This is the point when a “normal” man would either follow a woman and ask her out or simply move on with his day. However, Joe happens to be a sociopath who takes a much different approach. He decides to stalk Beck in person and online, and he eliminates “obstacles” until they become an item. Even when he finds out that Beck isn’t exactly who he thought she was (she’s a real piece of work, too!), his obsession with her continues.

The story is told from Joe’s point of view as if he’s talking to Beck. For example:

“You miss me. And I miss you. It hurts seeing you at that fire, giving your hands to the heat, the way I gave my hand to fire, only different. I imagine pushing you into the red abyss and jumping in after you, with you, so we can burn together, forever, a tree of life, light, sex.”

This type of narration creates an extra creepy vibe because it sucks readers into Joe’s deranged world. I loved it!

Even though Joe is nuts, Kepnes did a stellar job of making me sympathize with him at times. Why on Earth would I feel bad for a psychopath? First of all, as I mentioned earlier, Beck has some major issues, too. In fact, I found myself kind of liking Joe simply because I couldn’t stand Beck. Second, Joe just wants to be loved. He obviously goes about finding love in a totally unacceptable way, but Kepnes really made me feel his deep desire to find it (with Beck). Third, I was quite entertained by Joe’s pop culture references and many of his thoughts. For example:

“Mystic is a bad place for me. I went there once, with my fourth-grade class, on a field trip. At the time, I had a crush on a gruff, odd misfit named Maureen Grady, “Mo” for short. Most kids are assholes, just like most adults, so yes, a lot of people called her “Ho Mo.””

 AND

“Elton John hisses low everywhere because of the state of the art sound system and I can picture Peach pleading with him in a court of fandom. She begs to be his number one fan but Sir Elton slams the gavel and sends a collections officer to seize all his music from that prissy cunt and she has to go work as a greeter at Walmart.”

Favorite quotes:

“What a shame to be so angered by what you don’t have that you treat what you do have like it’s nothing.”

“You grow through love. You don’t postpone love until you stop growing.”

“If you don’t start with crazy, crazy love, the kind of love that Van Morrison sings about, then you don’t have a shot to go the distance. Love’s a marathon, Danny, not a sprint.”

If you like thrillers with seriously messed up characters, you might want to check out this book. I definitely plan to read the sequel.

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Book Reviews

Book Review: Homeowner With a Gun by Samuel Hawley

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After reading (and LOVING) Bad Elephant Far Stream, I immediately checked to see if Hawley has written anything similar. Sadly, he hasn’t published any other historical fiction novels, so I picked up Homeowner With a Gun: A Thriller.

When Jeff discovers late-night intruders in his home, he does what he has to do to protect his family. (It’s chilling just how realistic this scenario is.) The safety of Jeff’s family is compromised further when it is revealed that the intruders were members of a dangerous gang known as ‘Ain’t No Game. It turns out that ANG wants revenge, leading to an event that sets Jeff on a mission to do what the police can’t: prevent the gang from harming his family again.

In addition to Jeff’s side of the story, I-Man’s side is told as well. I-Man is a recently paroled, former member of ANG and the only person who knows why his gang friends were in Jeff’s house that night. While revenge is plotted, I-Man is busy trying to keep what he knows hidden from ANG’s leader. He is also trying to figure out a way to retrieve what his murdered friends were looking for.

Hawley seamlessly weaves back and forth between Jeff and I-Man throughout the story, expertly adding suspense along the way. I actually caught myself holding my breath a few times.

While this book was spun together just as well as Bad Elephant Far Stream, it didn’t tug at my heartstrings nearly as much. However, it was a satisfying thriller that kept me turning the pages. Hawley deserves praise for being such a versatile writer. I look forward to more from him, regardless of the genre.

AMAZON

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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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The Girl on the Train is a page-turning thriller told from the alternating perspectives of three female characters. The intrigue begins when Rachel (the alcoholic main character) realizes that something she witnessed could be related to the disappearance of a young woman she feels connected to, even though they have never met. You see, Rachel observes people and things closely during frequent train commutes and becomes captivated by one couple (Megan and Scott), in particular. She goes so far as to assign them names, professions, hobbies and even behavioral characteristics. This might sound weird, but doesn’t everyone do this? Make assumptions about others based on outward appearances? Then, we often find out our assumptions were wrong; either people do not deserve the bad rap we’ve assigned them, or people are hiding much darker secrets and personality traits than we imagined. The latter becomes increasingly obvious to Rachel with each new revelation she learns about the real Megan and Scott—individually and as a couple.

I was immediately drawn in by Rachel. She’s lonely, depressed and self-deprecating, and she makes terrible decisions due to her alcoholism and obsessive desire to be involved in Megan’s case. The funny thing is I liked her anyway and felt a lot of sympathy for her. Megan was harder for me to like, but by the end, my heart broke for her. And then there’s Anna, who I disliked from the moment she was introduced to end. As annoying and infuriating as Anna is throughout the story, she’s also very crucial; you just have to wait until the end to find out why.

Hawkins did an excellent job of building suspense. The way she gradually reveals tidbits about the characters while switching from perspective to perspective held my interest throughout the novel and kept me guessing.

One thing I had a hard time with was the way Rachel’s and Anna’s parts were happening in the present, but Megan’s parts were from the past. I found myself constantly flipping back and forth to check dates throughout the first half of the book, and even a few times later on. Overall, it did not detract from my enjoyment of the story, but it might annoy readers who don’t like having to create a mental timeline of events. Another thing that bothered me was who ended up being responsible for Megan’s disappearance, not because I liked this particular character but because it just seemed too convenient.

As a whole, I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys suspense.

AMAZON

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