When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.
There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.
As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.
I’m going to be completely honest with you right now. I am not careful on the internet at all. I don’t use separate email addresses and I don’t private a lot of my social media and I, like everyone else, basically throws chunks of myself out there for anyone to find. Which is why this book was honestly terrifying to me and a lot of other people.
In this day and age, I think a lot of us just accept that nothing is private anymore. We leave pieces of ourselves wherever we go and we don’t really care. We accept that if we try to buy a skirt on Amazon, we are then going to see advertisements for every kind of skirt known to mankind on every single site after that. We accept that there are sites that remember information as sensitive as our credit card numbers and home addresses. We accept it and forget that this information could prove deadly in the hands of the wrong person.
The book is told entirely from the point of view of Joe and he is, of course, a highly unreliable narrator. So the book follows Joe as he meets Beck and bit by bit forces her into his arms without her realising that he is orchestrating everything and that he knows her every email, password and even when she gets her period.
By the way, can we just pause and talk about the period thing for a second. I mean most of us girls have period tracker apps on our phone and we update them regularly. Can you imagine that if someone were to get access to our phones, they would know exactly when we would be on our period?? I mean I never thought about that and now I can’t stop thinking about that and quite frankly I want to delete my period tracker app right now!
Okay. Let’s get back to the book. So I thought that the plot was very well done. The story line was very believable and since we got to see how Joe did things step by step, we also got to see how believable the story was and how exactly he managed to do all the things that a sane person would think impossible or unrealistic.
The only thing that I didn’t like was how dragged out the whole story was. I felt like it was a good 100 pages too long and it did get a bit tedious and monotonous being in Joe’s head and just hearing the same thing over and over again.
And that brings me to my next gripe with the book. The story felt very repeated. Like Beck and Joe would have a few good days together, then she will start to distance herself from him, he would go crazy, they wouldn’t talk for a few weeks, he will stalk her like crazy and then she will return to him and the whole cycle repeated itself about 3 times in the whole book and it just got a bit irritating.
Joe was a very complex character. I mean of course. A man who does what he does is always complex. It was very interesting to be inside his head and to be able to see exactly how he rationalised every step of what he was doing. I think his rationalisations of everything was what really made the book terrifying. I mean he just so truly believed that he was doing everything right that as a reader, you start to actually feel sorry for him.
Like you would think that you wouldn’t be able to relate to Joe at all and that it is impossible to feel compassion for him but that is far from the truth. You actually do feel sorry for him and you feel his pain when Beck distances herself from him. I personally felt like I got the fact that he kept trying and trying and she kept acting above him and treating him worse then a dog sometimes.
Beck had a lot of issues. Of course that doesn’t excuse what Joe did to her or how badly she suffered because of him but she wasn’t exactly a saint. Beck fooled around with many guys, she craved attention and she never needed a boyfriend. She needed a dog. Someone who would come when called and someone who she would kick around when she was tired of them. And Joe was exactly that for her. I honestly didn’t like Beck and while I did feel sorry and afraid for her, I wasn’t 100% Team Beck in this situation.
This book was an impulse read and honestly it is something I would usually have never picked up especially because it is a thriller and I generally do not read that. But I am so glad I did. I’m glad because I think it’s helped me to understand just how someone can commit identify theft or how someone can be truly stalked. It’s helped me to see my social media presence in a different light.
If I’m being honest, I have developed a slight fear if you will. I am a little concerned about how much information I divulge to the Internet and I am worried because my life is documented on my social media and if someone like Joe wanted to stalk me, it probably wouldn’t be hard.I don’t know. This book really messed with my brain and the way I think about the Internet.
If you get the chance, I would completely recommend this book to anyone. It doesn’t matter if this genre is new to you. Just read it. It really sheds light on our use of the Internet and I just think that in this day and age, where everything is digital and everything is convenient and everything is stored up in iCloud, we need to be aware of the consequences of things going wrong so that we can effectively protect ourselves against it.