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Literature / You (2015)

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You is a thriller novel written by Caroline Kepnes.

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.


A sequel, Hidden Bodies, was published in 2016, while a television adaptation premiered on Lifetime in 2018, later moving to Netflix for its second season.

You contains examples of:

  • Abduction Is Love: Joe kidnaps Beck near the end of the book, after she discovers his stalking and murdering. It appears that she might have fallen for it, but it's a ruse so she can try to escape, and he kills her when she does.
  • Armored Closet Gay: Peach.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Joe kills Beck, is never arrested for his crimes, and it's implied that he finds a new obsession.
  • Beta Couple: Suggested all the time by the narrative - technically Benji and Beck and Joe and Karen Minty fall into this, but the clearest example is Ethan and Beck's classmate, Blythe.
  • Brainy Brunette: Beck has dark hair and is Ivy-educated. Slightly deconstructed in the sense that she's not as smart as she appears.
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  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: A meta example. If you're reading this on a Kindle, they have a joke about reading books on the Kindle.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Beck. Peach does. Made especially evident as every male character, particularly in the adaptation, lusts after her.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Because Beck is disgusted with Joe's behavior, he ends up killing her.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Beck and Peach.
  • Improvised Weapon:
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Beck, Peach, and most of their friends went to Brown; Benji went to Yale. Particularly noticeable as the other major characters (Joe, Karen, Amy), didn't go to college at all. However, then subverted, because Beck and Blythe go to the New School.
  • Last-Name Basis: Although Beck is her surname, her friends choose to call her this instead of her first name.
  • Lethal Joke Weapon: A rare fictional example. Beck buys Joe a version of the Da Vinci Code after he saves her life. Joe chokes her with it at the end of the novel.
  • Locked in a Room: Happens to multiple people in the novel.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Joe believes this, and while he does act crazy, it's implied that it doesn't just come from his infatuation with Beck. This is also true of Peach and Beck, though.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Joe, especially because, unlike in the adaptation, Joe at least intends to spare Benji. But it's still mentioned he has a history of disturbing behaviour, like stalking, and possibly sexual assault. While it may be a stretch to call Peach evil, she's endlessly rude and cruel to everyone, particularly Joe, out of jealousy that he has Beck and she doesn't.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Beck is a deconstruction.
  • Mad Love: Joe has this for Beck, although he thinks he's a Love Martyr.
  • Manipulative Bastard / Manipulative Bitch: Joe obviously qualifies, but so do Beck and Peach.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Joe won't hesitate to kill those who he thinks are obstacles in his relationship with Beck.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Joe does this to Benji and Peach. There's not many people he wouldn't do it to.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Joe has this reaction after killing Beck. Although, he seems to forget about her after meeting a new woman whom he becomes obsessed with.
  • New Media Are Evil: Zig-zagged. Joe loves books and hates Facebook, but also uses all modern tools to cyber-stalk Beck. Her openness on such media is what allows him to worm into her life, and it's also taken as evidence of her shallowness and hypocrisy as she is a short story writer.
  • Nice Guy: Ethan.
  • Odd Couple: Ethan, the nicest man alive, and the very demanding, condescending Blythe.
  • One Mario Limit / Spell My Name with an "S": In ironic juxtaposition to the Hero with a Unique Name, Guinevere Beck, Joe's other girlfriend is called Amy Adam, subverting the S trope. It's impossible for Joe to stalk her online as a result.
  • One-Word Title: Presumably named because of one character's focus on another character. Therefore, really involved with Second-Person Narration, and the pronoun, "You".
  • Psycho Lesbian: Peach.
  • Psycho Psychologist: Nicky isn't psycho, but he does abuse his position by eventually sleeping with his patient, Beck.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Nicky and Joe describe Karen as this.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Beck and Peach.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Joe uses Beck's social media accounts to learn where she's going so that he can "coincidentally" bump into her.
  • Villain Protagonist: The story is told from Joe's perspective and he always uses "you" when talking about or to Beck.
  • Yandere: Joe. He starts off as an average guy who becomes infatuated with Beck. As the story progresses and his relationship with Beck deepens, he becomes obsessed with her, stalks her, collects her trash for his Stalker Shrine, and kills anyone who gets in the way of his relationship with her. When she learns how messed up he is and rejects his feelings for her, he retaliates by killing her.
  • "You!" Exclamation: Peach does this when she realises that Joe is Beck's stalker. Also qualifies as Famous Last Words.
  • Your Favorite: Joe gets Beck all of her favourite things when he kidnaps her and locks her in the basement. Reality Ensues, of course, as it does very little to comfort or reassure her.


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