Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m posting my publication day review of the latest novel in Caroline Kepnes’ “YOU” series, ‘You Love Me’. I’ve followed this series from the very beginning and absolutely love all of the books, as well as the Netflix series. I was lucky enough to be sent an ARC of this book – thanks so much to Simon & Schuster for the opportunity! So, keep reading to discover my thoughts…
Joe Goldberg is back. And he’s going to start a family – even if it kills him.
Joe Goldberg is done with cities, done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now, he’s saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cosy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.
He gets a job at the local library – he does know a thing or two about books – and that’s where he meets her: Mary Kay DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won’t meddle, he will not obsess. He’ll win her the old fashioned way . . . by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they’ll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town.
The trouble is . . . Mary Kay already has a life. She’s a mother. She’s a friend. She’s . . . busy.
True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He’s ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kay will do the right thing and make room for him.
‘You Love Me’ was published in hardback today (1st April 2021) and is the latest novel in the “YOU” series: following on from ‘You’ (2014) and ‘Hidden Bodies’ (2016). Kepnes has also written the standalone novel ‘Providence’ (2018), as well as several short stories. Caroline Kepnes is from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She worked as a pop culture journalist on Entertainment Weekly and a TV writer on 7th Heaven. She now writes full-time and lives in Los Angeles.
The novel has received rave reviews from the likes of fellow authors Erin Kelly: “Crazy, sexy, cool: Caroline Kepnes gets better – and Joe Goldberg gets worse – with every book”, Paula Hawkins: “Fiendish, fast-paced, and very funny”, Nicola Yoon: “Caroline Kepnes is one of the smartest, most insightful writers out there with a true gift for crafting flawed, complicated characters”, Claire McGowan: “Another dark, thrilling, and blackly hilarious adventure from everyone’s favourite murderer”, Catherine Steadman: “It’s completely addictive, razor-sharp writing from Kepnes” and Richard Osman: “An utterly unique character and an utterly unique writer, in a marriage made somewhere between heaven and hell”.
‘You Love Me’ follows the life of our favourite serial killer, Joe Goldberg, as he moves to a quaint island in the Pacific Northwest. He promises himself he’ll never love again – but then he meets Mary Kary, and everything changes…
The narrative is told from the first-person perspective of Joe throughout, providing the reader with an in-depth insight to his twisted thoughts, feelings and emotions. As with the previous novels, the narrative tone of voice is completely unique and the pace of Joe’s thoughts are very fast, making the reader feel as if they are actually inside his head. The narrative is mostly told in the present tense, with some allusions to the past. Overall, the narrative is really easy to follow, yet still very effective.
Of course, Joe is my favourite character in the novel. There are so many layers to Joe – he’s sick, twisted and dangerous; yet, on the other hand, he is charming, welcoming and funny. I went from hating him one minute to finding him fascinating and alluring the next, and once I start reading, I remembered all the reasons why I’ve always loved Joe’s character. Now, Joe is living on a small island and is determined to have the quiet life, after all the events that unfolded in the previous novel. But then he meets Mary Kay, and of course he cannot stop himself from obsessing and stalking her. This time, Joe is met with various obstacles, as Mary Kay already has a family – how can he get Mary Kay to love him, when she already has such a busy and fulfilling life?! Joe is as dark and humorous as ever, and I really enjoyed getting deep into his mind and following him on his latest venture.
Mary Kay is a very well-written character. She’s a loving mother and wife, and puts her family before anybody else. When she meets Joe, she is instantly attracted – and although she tries to stay away and do the right thing, it soon appears that she cannot resist Joe’s rugged charm. Mary Kay is the victim of a fair few tragedies throughout the novel and she loses some of the people closest to her, which turns her entire life upside-down. She’s strong-willed and determined, yet also emotional and vulnerable. She’s certainly not a perfect person and makes quite a lot of mistakes, which in my eyes makes here a very realistic and relatable character.
** TRIGGER WARNING ** (I apologise for any spoilers here.) The theme of stalking and obsession is explored throughout the novel, as Joe becomes smitten with his latest love interest. The theme of domestic violence is also explored in great detail – relating to sexual, emotional and physical abuse. Violence and murder is portrayed within the novel, with some scenes describing the grizzly details of brutal murders. The themes of mental illness and suicide are discussed within the novel. Finally, there are some graphic scenes of a sexual nature, which could make some readers uncomfortable. All of these issues are explored with appropriate sensitivity – but if you feel that they may trigger a negative response, I suggest you skip this book.
As the narrative motors onwards, Joe’s obsession with Mary Kay increases, as does his lust for revenge. Both characters find themselves in some very dangerous situations, and they must work together to fight for their lives. Will Joe be able to do the right thing and keep Mary Kay safe?
So, let’s talk about the ending. There’s a dramatic twist near to the ending that completely changes the course of the novel. Joe is confronted by somebody from his past, and finds himself in a very dangerous situation. I definitely didn’t see that coming, and I simply couldn’t tear my eyes away from this action-packed scene! The novel then ends with a satisfying resolution, which expertly ties together the events of the novel. I was really happy with the ending, and felt that it would lead on very well to a fourth novel…
Overall, I highly recommend this latest instalment to those of you who have read Caroline Kepnes’ previous novels or have watched the Netflix show, ‘You’. If you’re not familiar with ‘You’ then you need to get out and buy yourself the whole series – I can promise you won’t regret it! Joe is as brilliant as ever, and the narrative is as dark and twisted as its predecessors’. There’s also plenty of humour and romance thrown into the mix, as well as some fantastic new characters. I urge you all to go out and buy the latest instalment of this brilliant series ASAP!
Happy reading 🙂