J is for Joe

Hello, and welcome to Blogging A to Z 2017! Thanks for stopping by. Fellow A to Z-ers, please make sure to leave a link to your blog in the comments.

My theme this month is 26 of the Best Characters in Fiction.

IMG_6764Joe is the narrator of You, by Caroline Kepnes. He meets Beck in the bookstore where he works, and after getting her name from her credit card, Googles her.  He looks at her Facebook and Twitter. And then he starts to figure out where she’ll be so he can engineer a “chance” meeting. It gets creepy. Fast.

The thing is that Joe is an otherwise nice guy. Overly emotional and obviously a stalker, he also does his best to make her happy. And Beck likes to mess with men. She’s not a good person either. They’re not a problematic combination even if Joe was an ordinary guy.

My emotions were all over the place with this book, because while Joe is a bad guy, obviously, I started to see where he was coming from. Because it’s told in his point of view, I started to get sympathetic.

It’s masterful, and I don’t know how Caroline Kepnes did it. It made me think of this quote:

“When you really know somebody you can’t hate them.”
― Orson Scott Card

Believe me; I didn’t like Joe. And having worked in mental health, with people who’ve been in DV relationships and people who’ve assaulted others, I know that he’s wrong on so many levels.

But… the ability to get inside his head was a valuable experience. Fiction gives us that ability, even when it’s disturbing.

Do you ever find yourself sympathizing with the villain?

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10 comments on “J is for Joe

  1. I found myself continually shocked that this creepy vulnerable guy was written by a woman, it seemed so overtly masculine! I also love how she kept giving us threads of Joe’s obviously horrific and dysfunctional past with the book shop owner who he also had such a complex relationship with. Of course he ended up so weird lol. I loved this book and the sequel. I can’t wait for what Kepnes does next.

  2. He does sound creepy. I wonder how unsettling it would be to read this book and discover you’re developing sympathy for him.

    Having said that, however, I’ve found that the best villains are people whose make-up includes both good and bad. Few villains think of themselves as villains, I believe.

  3. scr4pl80 says:

    I am not so sure I could get over the evil. Maybe I just haven’t read the right book yet.
    Janet
    J is for Journey

    • doreeweller says:

      I think that some people probably can’t. I don’t like reading any books with harm to animals. I tell myself it isn’t real, but my brain just doesn’t work that way.

  4. I love hearing about other people’s favourite characters and “bad guys” are always some of the most interesting, especially if the author manages to make you sympathise with them, even just a little bit.
    J is for Jesús Navas

  5. messymimi says:

    Sympathizing, no. Feeling sorry for because they are that way, yes.

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