Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes is the follow-up to You. If, like me, you loved You, then this is an utterly unmissable sequel. I bought it whilst reading Little Women and naturally enough found myself skipping a week’s worth of Daughter imposed reading deadlines in order to binge read this beauty.
The problem with truly great books like You, is that they are hard to follow. If you believed in the character of Joe, then you really know too much to read Hidden Bodies, because at the end of the day, you really can’t believe that he got away with it. The other problem is that you also know what Joe is capable of and so, to some extent, the element of surprise is gone. In his relationship with Beck, you found yourself believing at points that he could turn this around and live a normal life, but not so in Hidden Bodies.
Kepnes is such a clever writer that no matter how despicable Joe is, there is a small part of you still rooting for him, still believing in his redemption. How ironic then that Hidden Bodies takes Joe to Los Angeles a city full of the the self interested and the heart of the entertainment industry. Of course, Joe being Joe, he ends up there for all the wrong reasons, following a girl who has let him down, failed to live up to his code of conduct. The beloved bookshop is now behind him and life begins anew. Only it doesn’t. He picks up all his old patterns, but finds love in Love.
Love, the name of Joe’s new girlfriend, is every bit as complicated a character as Beck in You. You like Love more, but she’s a different kind of ‘off’. She’s the girl with too much wealth, too many choices, who can have anything she wants whenever she wants it and she wants Joe. Yes, she’s likeable, but oh so flawed. Her twin brother Forty (I kid you not) is so much worse again, he has the money but lacks any moral fibre, a hateful character who is his sister’s touchstone. As with You, there’s no one with whom the reader can really feel an affinity and yet it’s a truly addictive read.
Hidden Bodies’ single biggest flaw is that it isn’t You. It still epitomises crime writing at it’s very best but because you have to have read You to find Hidden Bodies, Hidden Bodies will always come in second. The shame of being a sequel.