Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Hidden Bodies

Joe Goldberg is back and he has a new object of obsession and affection. Amy Adam believes in living off the grid: temporary cell phones, no social media, and even no banks. She has a few weird quirks, but he's fallen head over heels in love with her. Only one thing is harshing his happiness: the evidence he left at Peach Salinger's house right before he murdered her. To kill two birds with one stone, he decides to take Amy on a road trip around there and get rid of the evidence at the same time. They have a wonderful time, but so many Salingers surround the property that Joe can't enter. He returns home a little sad, but becomes devastated when he discovers that Amy duped him. She left town with the rare books from the cage in his bookstore. Enraged, he lets go of his life in New York and follows Amy to LA to teach her a lesson.

I went into Hidden Bodies thinking it would be a lot like You: Joe would pick out a woman, employ similar stalker and invasive maneuvers to keep tabs on her, and then eventually find out she's a real person and kill her. I was completely wrong. It starts out much the same way, but he's forced to actually trust her due to her desire to live off the grid. When she dupes him, it doesn't come as a surprise since the first time he met her, she paid for books using a stolen credit card. His journey and adjustment to Los Angeles are amusing because of the disparity between his expectations and the reality of the city. Joe spends some time tracking down the elusive Amy, but once he meets Love, he ceases to care. She just so happens to be rich and opens up a whole new world to him in LA with her connections.

The rest of the novel is a mix of a Bret Easton Ellis novel, the Great Gatsby, and of course Catcher in the Rye. Joe hates fakes and phonies but he is one himself. As before, his story normalizes his insane perspective so after a while it actually seems pretty reasonable until the more extreme thoughts come out. His narrative is full of self doubt and leaps in conclusion. He never quite feels like he belongs because he really doesn't. His constant lies and different background keep him separate from the others plus his past sins and mistakes frequently come to haunt him as well. However, all of his acquaintances are just as hollow as he is, so he does fit in, in a way. I practically got whiplash at times because he would be completely convinced someone saw through him, already planning their murder, and the next second, it was a misunderstanding and everything is fine. He gets completely caught up in the rich Californian lifestyle, complete with aspirations to be the film writer he claims to be. The most hilarious part of the story was when a woman on his floor starts stalking him and he's freaked out that she's invading his privacy. He spent the entire last book justifying his stalker actions and when the tables are turned, he just doesn't see it the same way.

Hidden Bodies is an unexpected sequel to You that ends with a definite opening for another book. This isn't my favorite series, but Kepnes knows how to keep my interest and is willing to explore reprehensible characters in interesting ways. My only complaint would be that the Hollywood decadence and his struggle for a career took up too much of the book. Other than that, I enjoyed it and I would read the next one if there is one.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

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