Hi and welcome to the reading world!
This series is actually one where I watched the show first, so I’ll be including a small section after each book review where I share a comparison to the show. I will be avoiding spoilers throughout these reviews! I’m currently reading You Love Me and I’m happy to share a full review on that book as well after I’ve finished it. For now, let’s get into a brief recap of my thoughts on You and Hidden Bodies.
You is a distinctive thriller novel and widely popular in the modern thriller genre. It is definitely a disturbing read, as the narrator is a young man who becomes obsessed with a woman and follows the lengths he goes to in order to keep her in his life. Joe is well written to show how he justifies himself while also doing horrifying things. Beck is complex and given more depth than just being the object of Joe’s obsession. However, it is worth noting that the story basically focuses primarily on these two, and other side characters are definitely not central to most of the story.
The story itself unfolds at a pretty consistent and well done pace throughout the book. There did sometimes feel like potential consequences and aftereffects were glossed over, but since this is a series that could be addressed in later installments.
You is definitely a unique story, and the writing style and concept execution makes this thriller read like watching a horror movie unfold. It is definitely unsettling and creepy, but intentionally so to convey the obsessive and unhinged nature of Joe’s relationships with others.
Comparison to season 1 of the show:
I think the principle issue I had with the book was that if I hadn’t seen the show, visualizing things like “the cage” would have been much more difficult. This probably wouldn’t have been a huge deal if I had read the books first, but something I noticed. Additionally, the show definitely goes in different directions with the characters- I felt like the show’s characterization of Beck lacked the depth she had in the novel, but that the show focused a lot more on developing more story context for the side characters. For example, Karen in the show had a lot more importance in the story and was a much more interesting character than in the book. I think overall the first season was a pretty faithful adaptation of the source material but the contrast of character development and portrayal is definitely interesting.
Hidden Bodies is the second book of the You series, and definitely the one that gets the most mixed reviews. For me personally, this book had some interesting directions (I’ll explore this a lot more in my comparison to the show below) but overall wasn’t as strong as the first book in the series.
One of the most definitive features of this series is the characterization and narration of Joe and the people he comes into contact with. However, Joe’s character development in this installment felt disjoined at points and only came rushing into focus at the end of the story. It was interesting to see him sometimes buying into things he had previously ridiculed and mocked. Despite this, I didn’t feel like there was enough time spent on commentary of these moments when Joe contradicts his own internal dialogue and criticisms as the story progressed. In Hidden Bodies, we also meet new characters that do have growth and development, but also didn’t always feel believable. There was more development of the side characters in this installment, which I really enjoyed for building out the story more.
The story pacing and development is very different from in You- Joe’s story feels less linear in this installment. I like that the story wasn’t written as a replica of the first book, but I think at times the plot felt a little scattered. There was a lot more emphasis on dramatic moments and random twists that didn’t ultimately impact the story as much as fewer and bigger twists would have. However, I did really enjoy that the story took more time to focus on Joe’s own flaws in his logic and ideology especially in regards to some of the thematic elements developed through the series like superficiality and authenticity.
Comparison to season 2 of the show:
The second season of the show definitely took some dramatic departures from the book. It’s super interesting to have seen/read them both and compare. While many of the principle characters are still the same, some characters are totally different and there are definitely unexpected plot twist and turns I couldn’t see coming in both versions. I’m very curious to see where season 3 takes these new directions and how things play out in You Love Me as well!
Try this series if you liked: the dark and unsettling tone in Pretty Little Wife, sarcastic social commentary on elitism in a thriller like The Wife Upstairs, the character development and short, fast paced chapters in My Sister, the Serial Killer, the fast paced, on the edge of your seat latter third of The Lesson
Have you read this series or seen the show? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Thanks for stopping by!