Book Club Guide: You

The purpose of our Book Club Guides is to recommend books for your book club and provide guidance for discussion. This book guide focuses on Caroline Kepnes’s novel You.

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You is a suspenseful novel by Caroline Kepnes. It was originally published in 2014, but Netflix recently made a series out of the story, bringing renewed attention to the book.

You follows the story of Joe Goldberg, who works in a bookshop, and his fascination with aspiring writer Guinevere Beck, simply called Beck. Joe’s interest in Beck quickly escalates to a full-blown obsession, paving the way for a simultaneously creepy, amusing, and terrifying tale.

The purpose of our Book Club Guides is to recommend books for your book club and provide guidance for discussion. This book guide focuses on Kepnes’s novel You.

Review: Plot, Pros and Cons

You takes place in New York City, where narrator and main character Joe grew up. He now works in a bookstore, which he uses as a vehicle for judging people and their reading choices. 

The novel begins one day when Beck wanders into Joe’s bookshop. He is instantly fascinated with her. Joe tries to play it cool so as not to come on too strong. However, his nonchalance is simply a front for his unhealthy fixation.

After meeting Beck, Joe quickly finds out everything he can about her. He scours the internet, finding her social media pages and combing through them one by one. His online stalking quickly translates into real life, and we find Joe standing outside Beck’s house, watching her through her windows. 

Joe uses his knowledge of Beck’s interests and schedule to insert himself into her life. His efforts are successful, and the two begin dating. However, Joe is not pleased with all the other people in Beck’s life. The way he sees it, her on-again, off-again boyfriend and nosy friends are simply in his way. Joe takes some extreme, violent measures to deal with them, and the story develops from there.

There’s no doubt that You is a page-turner. This thriller will keep your attention. Plus, the story is told from the perspective of psychotic Joe, which is at times amusing, disturbing, and overwhelming.

Discussion Topics

Here we have some discussion topics and questions for your book club about You. They’re not too specific so as not to spoil the plot for anyone who hasn’t finished the book yet.

  1. Did you watch the Netflix series You? What were some key differences between the book and the show? Which did you prefer?
  2. In the throes of his obsession, Joe fluctuates from idolizing Beck to criticizing her. Why does he do this? What is your opinion of Beck’s character? 
  3. Why does Joe resort to such violent actions? How does he justify his actions to himself?
  4. Joe doesn’t have many friends and had a difficult upbringing. However, he does some terrible things. Do you ever feel sorry for Joe? Why or why not?
  5. What did you think of experiencing this story solely from Joe’s perspective? What is the effect of this narrative choice on the reader?
  6. What did you think of the ending? Were you surprised?
  7. Kepnes published a sequel to You called Hidden Bodies in 2016. Have you read the sequel? If so, what did you think of it? If not, what do you think happens after You concludes?

In Conclusion

Overall, You is a suspenseful novel that will keep you turning pages. Plus, with its distinct narration and recent Netflix series, there’s plenty to talk about, making it a great choice for your book club.

Have you read You? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading! Cheers!
Book Club Guide: You

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