Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Joe Goldberg - A New Face of Terror

When I first saw the movie Misery, I was slightly scared of Annie Wilkes; I vowed to run whenever someone said they were my number one fan. Then, I read the book . . . and was completely terrified of her. In my life as a bibliophile, there have been several books or characters that have made going to bed a horrible experience for me. In being a dark fantasy author, I have been told repeatedly that my character Hilliard Ravensdale was quite evil. I took that to be a compliment. However, all that changed when I was introduced to Joe Goldberg. In Caroline Kepnes' first book, YOU, we see through the eyes of Joe, a mild mannered and reasonably attractive man who works in a bookstore in New York. However, his world is turned upside down when he meets the sexy Guinevere Beck. Suddenly, all hell breaks loose as the facade falls and we see Joe for what he truly is. When I read YOU, I didn't just read it - I devoured it. I wrote a review of YOU last year; go check it out! I will freely admit that I'm sucker for characters who are messed up and Joe fit the bill quite nicely. Thankfully, Joe makes a return in the book Hidden Bodies and this time, Joe kicks it up a notch.

The story is thus: after the events in YOU, Joe meets a young woman named Amy who comes into his life like a whirlwind. He knows she's broken and loves her for it, and she sees him as a kindred spirit. However, Amy breaks his heart and trust, thereby sending Joe into a downward spiral (again) fueled with revenge, murder, and above all, hate. He leaves New York behind and follows Amy across the country until they both land in the City of Angels. Joe begins to plot his revenge, yet LA gives him more than he bargained and could ever hope for. Do the dead stay dead, or do they follow us to our graves? Joe wants the dead to remain dead, yet under the bright lights of LA are eyes that have no mercy.

Kepnes' writing grips your heart and plunges it into cold water. Over and over and over again. Joe Goldberg is a terrifying character because, gosh darn it, he looks just like everyone else. However, if one stares into his eyes for a second longer than necessary, the madness becomes quite apparent. Kepnes' writing is so tense that you feel Joe taking you by the hand and showing you the locations of his murders, all the while telling you that you are safe with him. Don't believe it. I purchased my copy of Hidden Bodies at Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi; at midnight, I finished the book and took a deep breath, followed by a lot of curse words. (I can't believe he f**&ing believe he did that! and so on)

Although Joe is quite dangerous, I also felt sorry for him. All he wanted was love and instead, his heart got trampled on repeatedly. At one point, I found myself agreeing with him in his actions. Even the damned are human. When I closed the book, I wondered if Kepnes would write a third book as a way of "wrapping up" everything. Does Joe deserve that? I think so.

If you enjoy thrillers that don't let go AT ALL, pickup a copy of YOU, devour it in a day, then purchase Hidden Bodies immediately. When you do, tell Joe I said hello and that I blocked him on Facebook.


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