Monday, February 29, 2016

Review: Hidden Bodies

Summary: In the compulsively readable follow-up to her widely acclaimed debut novel, You, Caroline Kepnes weaves a tale that Booklist calls “the love child of Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman.”

Hidden Bodies marks the return of a voice that Stephen King described as original and hypnotic, and through the divisive and charmingly sociopathic character of Joe Goldberg, Kepnes satirizes and dissects our culture, blending suspense with scathing wit.

Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him.

In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: truelove. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice... -Emily Bestler Books

When I saw that Caroline Kepnes had a new book out, I knew I wanted to read it. I listened to her first novel YOU and was absolutely blown away by how disturbing... yet terrific, this book was. Her new novel is titled HIDDEN BODIES, and it once again stars Joe Goldberg, the demented romantic lead from YOU. Needless to say, I knew I was in for a twisted ride!

HIDDEN BODIES picks up right where YOU left... and I do recommend reading YOU first. HIDDEN BODIES tells the story of what happens when Joe's obsession with his new girlfriend Amy takes him to Los Angeles. As Joe settles into this new environment, he's hoping he can put his past behind him for good!

He makes some new friends and even a new girlfriend named Love who seems to be too good to be true. He also tries his hand at screenwriting and finds that he has a natural knack for storytelling. However in the back of his mind, he's always watching for the next shoe to drop. He's afraid that his involvement in the bodies he's killed will be discovered... and that makes him a bit desperate. He's willing to protect his new life and love no matter the cost!

I really enjoyed HIDDEN BODIES! It was similar to YOU, namely because Joe is still Joe; and I wasn't really any less shocked by his behaviors in this novel. He's such a fantastic character, both dark and twisted, but he's also a hopeless romantic. I probably should hate him because of his selfishness and the bodies he's left in his wake; however, I am drawn to his craziness and desperation as well as his creativity in getting out of bad situation. This book kept me on the edge of my seat while also entertaining me with Joe's dark humor and wry observations, and I didn't want to put it down. What does that say about me?

HIDDEN BODIES isn't for the faint of heart. Joe's behavior is pretty gruesome and there is quite a bit of adult content. Honestly, I'm shocked that such an attractive, female author writes this stuff! Call me biased, but I would think the author of a twisted book like this would be a pasty recluse -- definitely not a woman who has had success writing for Tiger Beat, Entertainment Weekly, and assorted television shows.

One thing I really appreciated about HIDDEN BODIES was how Joe's character evolved. I say that rather tongue-in-cheek, but he has changed some. Joe was able to pick up and leave New York for Los Angeles, and he adapted rather well. Let's put it this way, he managed to get involved with the Hollywood scene from the get-go; and he found new love rather quickly! In addition, his motives for murder (or at least his justifications) seem to be a little less about him and more about doing it for others.

I also really appreciated that the novel took place in Hollywood. I found this change of pace to be refreshing, and it certainly gave the author a lot of different ideas to explore. What I enjoyed the most about this setting was how she tied the shallowness and selfishness of the city to the characters in the novel. I'm not certain I'd say there was a definite theme in this book, but if there was one, it would be narcissism. Through Joe's reflections, the author does a fantastic job of showing how ego drives behavior (especially bad behavior) and how today's society tends to get caught up in their own best interests.

I can't go into too much about the ending of this novel because I don't want to give too much away, but I definitely enjoyed it. I'm not sure it's all plausible, but really I didn't pick up this book because it's believable. I read it because it's a thrilling ride along side the mind of a psychopath. I do think the ending was open-ended enough that there might be more to Joe Goldberg's story... and honestly I hope so!

I loved HIDDEN BODIES and recommend it to those of you who enjoyed YOU. It's dark and dirty, but it's also a well-written suspense novel.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


Beth F said...

Sounds really good but dare I start a new series?

sofia said...

I'm actually reading this right now and about halfway through. I did read You as well (twice actually) and love love loved it! I recommend it to everyone. I did read that You is being developed for Showtime as well

bermudaonion said...

I skimmed this because I'm listening to this book right now. It's deliciously creepy so far.