It’s just another day at work for Joe Goldberg, manning the cash register, arranging book displays, and signing off delivery receipts at the rare and used books store in East Village. He loves the store and the feeling of being surrounded by books. Joe doesn’t have a fancy university degree, but he’s way smarter than any Ivy League student who comes walking through the store doors.
And then Joe meets beautiful, intelligent, aspiring writer Guinevere Beck. They share a brief but meaningful moment about books. They flirt a little. Joe is instantly smitten and knows in his gut that this girl is special. She seems to like him, too, but maybe she’s just shy, or maybe she’s just being coy when she leaves without giving her number.
Joe doesn’t have much to go on, just her name on her credit card. There’s only one Guinevere Beck in this part of New York City, who’s also got a public profile on Twitter and Facebook. Without much difficulty, Joe is able to monitor Beck’s online activities and physical locations, get a glimpse of her private moments in her apartment, learn what makes her tick, and understand what goes through that pretty little head of hers with every email and status update.
When Joe conveniently bumps into her at a party that she Tweeted about, she accidentally leaves her cellphone behind. All of Beck’s social media accounts, including her email, are still logged in, providing Joe with unrestricted access to her online life. So begins an obsessive, complicated, and murderous pursuit of a girl, who has no idea she is being stalked methodically and single-mindedly by that cute guy from the bookstore.
I have never read a book quite like this. It’s so unique and creepy — and you know how much I love unique and creepy. I love it because it’s dark and disturbing. It’s obsessive, sexy, and even incredibly romantic. It’s the classic tale of stalker and stalkee, told from the twisted, messy, and frantic point of view of the stalker. Reading only one narrator from start to finish ought to bore you to tears, but not this narrator.
I loved how he revered her, and how certain chapters felt like an ode to all things Guinevere Beck. He’s so good at loving her I kind of fell for Beck, too. She’s a lying, insecure girl, who craves attention from men because of her daddy issues, but even those things look adorable through the eyes of Joe Goldberg. He’s responsible for every shitty and magical thing that happened to Beck’s life, and I found it shocking that I approved some of the things he had to do to just to get her.
Joe has orchestrated the perfect romance, until things start to unravel, of course. He’s another unreliable narrator, but it’s this quirky character trait that makes this book such a compelling read. Because you just don’t know when he will go in for the kill, or when he will sweep you off your feet. The ending is even sicker and more twisted than I thought. So before you publish that status update or post that seemingly harmless selfie, think about all those sickos out there lurking on the internet, looking for their next victim. That could be you.