‘You Love Me’ by Caroline Kepnes – review with spoilers

A likeable baddy and a stalker as portrayed in Patricia Highsmith novels experienced his revival in ‘You’ series by Caroline Kepnes. Joe Goldberg, the main protagonist of Kepnes’ books, did almost everything. He was obsessed with a creative writing student who could be considered a girl next door in the first instalment of the series. In ‘Hidden Bodies’, he got into a relationship with a rich girl. Both of these girls were not in a strict sense ‘nice’. 

‘You Love Me’ created new challenges for Joe. He now found a genuinely nice person, and he wants to make it right this time. He intends not to kill anyone. And in fact, he succeeds, as the only person, he could be considered to cause the death of in this book is Melanda, Mary Kay’s best friend. Nevertheless, he does not cause a GBH to her, as he merely kidnaps, which causes her to b depressed eventually pushes her to take her own life death. He also tries not to stalk his new object of attention, at least at the beginning. He does definitely not spend so much time observing his victim as in the previous books, especially in ‘You’. Certain commentators, like Erin Kelly, say that Joe Goldberg ups the stakes of his criminal activities or do even more horrendous acts. I think this is not the case in this book. In my view, he tries to be better things, but the past catches up with him. He needs to sort his things with Love. 

The book is different to its predecessors in that Joe does not befriend any children that need his help. In this book, Mary Kay’s teenage daughter is malevolent and has a bad role to play. The ending doesn’t create a tease like the other books in the series. In the end, Joe changes his location, and we don’t have a hint of what might come next in the series. Although the book leaves a lot of emotional baggage, it does not leave many aspects of the plot unresolved. This may leave the fans of the series in limbo. 

What really distinguishes this book from many books on the market is the use of very quirky dialogue with many cultural references to the trendy books, movies, series and even musicians, such as Haruki Murakami, Woody Allen’s films and Led Zeppelin. It is clearly a book to a bookworm and a culture vulture. Recognising the references in the book and knowing about their context is deeply satisfying.