Before I even get started, let me say this is not a book for everyone. Hell, it might not be a book for anyone except for Snotchocheez and myself. There is no middle-ground to be had here. This book is offensive and the characters are all vile and I expect opinions to be extremely polarized. And I totally respect that . . . but please have the decency to not troll my review and tell me how wrong I am or that I’m a pscyho. I’m already aware of those facts. Now on with the show . . .
You walk in to the bookstore where I work. Rather than picking up the shitty Dan Brown’s and other bestsellers that all the no-brainers are reading, you choose Spalding Gray and Paula Fox. You’re not only attractive – very reminiscent of Natalie Portman – you’re also intelligent. And as we exchange pleasantries while I’m checking you out (your books, that is), you prove to be witty as well. “If we were teenagers, I could kiss you. But I’m on a platform behind a counter wearing a name tag and we’re too old to be young. Night moves don’t work in the morning, and the light pours in through the window.”So you take your bag and go on your way . . . and I take a glance at your credit card receipt before shoving it through the cash drawer. “Guinevere Beck” – an usual name. “You are Charlotte’s Web and I could love you.” “The internet was designed with love in mind. It gave me so much of you . . .”
So there you have it. Joe is a stalker - a textbook example of the scariest version of one at that. He sets his sights on Beck and is willing to do anything to make her his. And I really loved him. No, not in the “boy do I wish I had some f*&^ed up weirdo in my life who would break into my house and sniff my underpants” kind of love him, but I couldn’t stop reading his story. Caroline Kepnes managed not only to write the most revolting character I’ve ever loved (move over, Herman Koch, you ain’t got nothin’ on this gal), but on top of it all she wrote him in FIRST PERSON. I hate first person narrative . . . but I loved this book.
Kepnes even managed to make me forget he was a total psycho on occasion. At times he was so relatable, and his opinions were spot-on . . . like when he and Beck went on an IKEA shopping spree together:
“Life at IKEA is not like life at IKEA in the movies. It’s a dystopian nightmare come true where all furniture is cut from the same hunk of cheap-ass wood, where all rooms were furnished with items that came out of the exact same factory at the exact same time. It smells like body odor and Febreze and baby shit and farts and meatballs and nail polish and more baby shit – doesn’t anyone get a babysitter anymore? – and it is loud.”
Joe is the only man I know who not only willingly references 500 Days of Summer, but dreams he could have a magical IKEA moment like JGG and Zoey Deschanel had in that movie . . .
Through all the crazy (and let me tell you there is A LOT of crazy), I held out hope for Joe – just like he held out hope for himself.
“Happiness is believing that you’re gonna be happy. It’s hope.”
And for a bit it looked like things might work out (after all – Beck was no prize in the normal department herself).
“We are a dream couple, we are what happens after Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks finally kiss, after cancer-free Joe Gordon-Levitt and sweet shrink-in-training Anna Kendrick eat their pizza in 50/50. We are Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke after U2 finishes singing 'All I Want Is You'.”
But then Beck discovers his secret . . . in the form of a used tampon he saved - along with other not-so-normal keepsakes - and I realized there was never going to be a normal. And that I’m probably going to be considered certifiable for even admitting I enjoyed this book – let alone wishing for some kind of happy ending. I admit it. I’m nuts. This book made me crazy. It turned wrong into right and bad into good and I couldn’t stop reading it. I was mesmerized. It gets 5 Stars and it’s easily going down as one of the Top 10 books I read in 2014.
All I can think now is that it’s weird enough to admit to loving a story like this, but to be Caroline Kepnes and actually have this thing COME OUT OF YOUR BRAIN???? Oh, she has to be the most delicious weirdo I’d ever care to meet. Her writing is brilliant and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.