Thursday, February 18, 2021

YOU LOVE ME, by Caroline Kepnes

If you loved YOU by Caroline Kepnes, you will love You Love Me.

The universe of Joe Goldberg has grown in complexity, and this book was my favorite in the series.
It felt like Kepnes has been sharpening her skills with each of these works, and it is on full display here. Reminded me of a fantastic guitar solo where you marvel at the talent and think "no way can it keep up this energy" but instead it does. The second person point of view, the tiny nuances of thoughts, the unique Joe 'self-talk', and the infusion of pop culture and literary references, where social media is not just an app on your phone but part of our psyche.

What makes these works so damn powerful is this character who is a litany of cluster B personality disorder traits, certainly anti-social and narcissistic—I want a 'Kepnesian scholar' to list Joe's Top Narcissistic moments, because there are some choice moments inside here—but he is certainly not 'just a narcissist'. There is, imbedded in his view of the world, a kindness and consideration, where in his reality it is empathy (you're gonna love spending time at the Empathy Bordello) we hear him constantly deciding what is best for everyone around him, and inside those decisions is an intent for kindness, twisted and selfish, of course, but he only judges himself by his intent, not his actions. Every relationship Joe has is completely transactional for finding love (is he capable of Love? God, ya gotta read this). Every new character that comes into his world is a puppet without strings, but Joe finds the invisible strings to pull that a sane human never sees, and he decides what to pull and how.

So creepy and insidious, but at the end in the aftermath of Joe's manipulation there is real life victims, where RIP is not just one of the authors brilliant witticisms, but true trauma and hurt that he leaves behind in his wake.

The title is so perfect.. is this Joe telling his victims that he is certain of his words as he tells whoever his object is at the time that "you love me?" —or is it the author saying this to her readers, that even though we are sickened by Joe, we can't and won't look away, so she accuses us of some sort of addictive voyeurism into his world as she says to us "You Love Me"? A 4th book has been promised, and I stand accused and I confess to both. I do love you Joe.

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