Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all well. Today I’m going to be posting my review for ‘Hidden Bodies’ by Caroline Kepnes, which is the sequel to ‘YOU’. You can find my review for ‘YOU’ here. So, keep reading to discover my thoughts…
Joe Goldberg came to Los Angeles to start over, to forget about what happened in New York. But in a darkened room in Soho House everything suddenly changed.
She is like no one he’s ever met before.
She doesn’t know about his past and never can.
The problem is, hidden bodies don’t always stay that way.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** Contains references to explicit acts of physical violence, scenes of a sexual nature and also contains references to substance abuse.
‘Hidden Bodies’ was released on 16th June 2016, and is the sequel to Kepnes’ novel ‘YOU’ (June 2015). ‘YOU’ received brilliant reviews, and a 10 episode TV series based on the novel will premiere on Lifetime Network in 2018. Kepnes previously worked as a pop culture journalist on Entertainment Weekly and was also a TV Writer for 7th Heaven. She now writes full time and lives in Los Angeles.
‘Hidden Bodies’ received much positive praise, for example from Closer: “Creepily compulsive…both funny and terrifying in equal measure,” Guardian: “Kepnes succeeds in convincing us to root for her insanely narcissistic yet strangely charming protagonist” and Stylist: “A proper rollercoaster of dark entertainment.” Author Erin Kelly also loved the book, labelling it “Darkly glittering, outrageous, totally addictive.”
The novel continues with Joe’s (narrator of ‘YOU’) astounding journey after the events of the previous novel. He moves to Los Angeles to forget about Guinevere Beck, but then meets his new obsession. And of course, the past can never stay buried…
Those of you who have read ‘YOU’ will be very much aware of Joe’s troubling tendencies, but also his aura of charm and sophistication – and throughout ‘Hidden Bodies’, Joe is very much the same. However, for those of you who don’t know, I’ll give some brief information on his character. Joe is fuelled by his need for possession and control, and is a truly dark character. His narrative voice is distinct and uncensored, and he really doesn’t hold anything back. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants (Amy and then Love), similarly to his desire for Beck in the first novel. His actions are extreme and terrible as he works to possess his new love interests. In contrast to the first novel, Joe seems to have finally met his match with both Amy and Love, and the reader is given a deep insight to this challenging new power struggle.
Love is the other main character, and is Joe’s second girlfriend in this novel. She’s strong and determined, unlike Beck from the first novel. She stands up for herself and fights for what she believes in, which proves a challenge to control freak Joe. Joe is able to see some of his own qualities in Love, and their relationship soon becomes turbulent. Love is extremely headstrong, and will not back down when Joe begins to bully her. Love is in no way a likeable character in my opinion, but she is fascinating to read about.
Similarly to ‘YOU’, none of the characters in the novel are especially likeable or relatable. Other minor characters include: Amy Adam (Joe’s first girlfriend who ultimately overpowers him), Calvin, Harvey & co. (Joe’s friends who introduce him to Los Angeles) and Forty (Love’s brother who struggles with extreme drug and alcohol addictions). All characters are excellently explored and all of them bring something fresh to the novel.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** This novel contains scenes of explicit acts of physical violence and death. It contains explicit and detailed descriptions of sexual acts which some readers may find troubling. It also explores the theme of substance abuse, particularly in terms of drug use. If any of these issues may prove difficult to you as a reader, I would suggest you skip this book.
As the novel drives on, Joe’s behaviour becomes more and more extreme, and he commits some truly terrible acts. His obsessive and violent tendencies increase as his passion and feelings for his love interests grow, and this causes him to make some terrible mistakes. The narrative only becomes darker and more disturbing as the novel goes on, and it is, similarly to ‘YOU’, a very uncomfortable read.
So, let’s talk about the ending. Towards the end of the novel, I honestly had no idea which direction Kepnes was going to take the book…and I definitely didn’t anticipate this one. It’s fairly ambiguous, and the future for Joe is left unclear. I did enjoy the ending in some ways, but wasn’t 100% happy with just how open-ended things were left. I feel like it needs another sequel now!
Overall, I highly recommend this novel to those of you who enjoy much darker and more disturbing thrillers. I would say that I’m not sure how much readers who haven’t read ‘YOU’ would get out of the book, so I suggest that, if you are interested, you go and read the previous novel first. In my opinion, ‘YOU’ is slightly better, as some of the events that occurred in ‘Hidden Bodies’ seemed a bit random at times, but that being said, it is a truly excellent read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Happy reading 🙂