‘You’: A Review

I recently finished You by Charles Benoit. I’ve tried to write this review without spoilers, but consider yourself duly warned.

Odd narratives styles tend to get at my heart. I don’t have a favorite “genre”, but if that could be a genre, it would be my first choice.

For those of you born in the 90’s (maybe earlier?) remember those choose your own adventure books, especially in elementary school?

Some of them looked something like this and you would constantly be flipping between pages to see what happens next.

Well You takes it to the next level. I’ll give you the first page for teasers.

“You’re surprised at all the blood.

He looks over at you, eyes wide, mouth dropping open, his face almost as white as his shirt.

He’s surprised, too.

There’s not a lot of broken glass, though, just the tiny slivers around his feet and one big piece busted into sharp peaks like a spiking line graph, the blood washing down it like rain on a windshield.

He doesn’t say anything clever or funny, doesn’t quote Shakespeare, he just screams. but no one can hear him, and it would be too late if they could.

You’re thinking, this wasn’t the way it was supposed to go, this shouldn’t be happening. And now things are only going to get worse.

You’re just a kid.

It can’t be your fault.

But then there’s all that blood.”

The whole book is written that way. Honestly, I don’t think it would work so well if it wasn’t. The main character is an average nobody who’s figured out that high school is a joke. He doesn’t care about life and you know that. But the second person pov makes him someone we can relate to; we the reader understand him.

I’d argue that this is almost more personal than first person.

But a word to the wise: it is SO hard to pull off. Do not try this as an amateur writer.

I think part of the reason I liked this book so much was that it reminded me of a lot of online text based roleplaying games. I honestly cannot remember any names, but they went something like this:

“You walk into a clearing. To your left is a statue of your deceased king with some bugs crawling on it. In front of you, the horizon stretches onward, giving way to lengths of the field. To your right rest the stables, you can hear the horses talking to each other even from this distance.

What do you do?”

Except here, the choice is removed from you because that’s EXACTLY how the main character feels. His previous choices took away the rest of his choices. Now, he has nothing left.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars. Please read it.

Speaking of odd narratives, I need to finish reading House of Leaves.


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