YOU LOVE ME – BY CAROLINE KEPNES
Published by Random House / Available April 2021
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5
Overview: Joe is out of prison and on his own again. Love is back in California raising their son, but Joe has signed a contract to keep away from them. Instead in California, he’s settled down on an island in the Pacific Northwest. Here, out in the wilderness, Joe embraces small town living and gets a volunteering job at the local library. There, he meets Mary Kay. However, it’s not like before when Joe would kidnap and kill people standing in his way of love. No, this time, Joe is living by new rules. He’s trying to be good. Unfortunately, trouble seems to always find Joe. Things just…happen.
The Good: In You Love Me, Joe is more likeable than ever. Of his three appearances, I’ve never rooted for him the way I did here. He’s grown a lot, but it is still delusional and overly optimistic. I genuinely cared about Joe and his new love life. It’s strange to care for a murderer, to want him to succeed, but that’s what exactly happens throughout this novel. For its duration, I was very much interested and invested in Joe’s problems and celebrations. The frequent cliffhanger endings to chapters increased my suspense and dared me to keep reading in search of a peaceful moment for reprieve. It is for this reason that the ending shocked me in such a way that I was devastated. There’s also the bonus of incomplete storylines left open for a sequel or two.
The Bad: There are two or three characters that annoyed me to no end. I understand that was their purpose in the story – to drive you crazy – but that still made their scenes difficult to survive. I couldn’t wait for them to die; one of them even had the audacity to live! If they return in book four – and they should – I hope Joe puts them down hard. I also thought that the end – however gripping and upsetting it was for me to accept – was not what I wanted. I expected a cliffhanger of conflict, but Kepnes gave us something sad instead. Honestly, I was a bit depressed when all was said and done.
The Takeaway: You Love Me does an excellent job in making you care about Joe all over again. You’ll hold your breath, stomp your feet, become territorial, emotional and jittery … all in the name of Joe. Can’t the guy just catch a break? This one left me a bit heartbroken, to be honest, but that just goes to show you how much it’ll make you care.
File Under: Suspense … Thriller … Murderers … Twisted Love … Predatory Suspense … Drama
Also See: You (You #1) … Hidden Bodies (You #2) … Providence
- Snow- Capped Press (www.snowcappedpress.com / Issue 01 Expected Spring 2021)
- Review by Aiden Merchant (Closed to review requests at time of posting / Refer to social media accounts or website for changes to availability)
Reviewer’s Information: (e) firstname.lastname@example.org / www.aidenmerchant.com