I rarely reach for a book based on a series that was my guilty pleasure. But in the case of "You" Caroline Kepnes, I was sure from the outset that I would take a look at the novel. I wondered how different is what was written in the book from what we know from the series. And also - whether what could have happened while watching the show, i.e. a certain sympathy for the main character is possible while reading the book. Text with full understanding includes discussion but does not include large spoilers.
Perhaps the biggest difference that one feels when reading a book is the lack of an actor whose nice and handsome face could somewhat soften the feeling that the main character Joe is a dangerous and obsessive individual. This is a very interesting phenomenon, though Joe's obsession in the series and the book develops similarly and takes a very similar form of behavior, however, Joe from TV has a nice face of Penn Badgley, and his pleasant detour. This is why, while watching the show, the question arose whether the stalker could be handsome and can actually be played by a handsome actor. Because some of the spectators were ready to forgive him for his actions since he looks so nice. In the book, there is no visual element (of course, everybody imagines somehow heroes, but probably not that specific) and immediately Joe shows his real face. This is not a hero who can be considered charming, or that we forgive him everything, on the contrary from the very beginning we feel a certain revulsion towards him. Mainly because he looks at the whole world in a way lined with either obsession or reluctance.
Well, the second element which in my opinion is very much felt in the book and which can be avoided while watching the show is that our main character is in fact a very complex person who also has the feeling that he is better than people around him. In the book, you can feel a lot more how much the hero despises everyone around him. In the series there is a scene in which he leads such a narrative in a bookstore where he talks about people who pretend to buy serious books and in fact they mean Dan Brown at the bottom of the basket. The series somehow mitigates this malicious and full of claims to the world of the story element. Meanwhile, in a book on dozens of pages we can see that the hero has a problem with the whole world, he does not like other districts, he does not like drinks that people drink, he does not like every aspect of the world he does not belong to. In addition, in the novel, much faster than in the series, we begin to understand that our hero has been treated very badly in the past and his behavior is not only a manifestation of disorders but probably also some response to trauma. In addition, the creators of the show tried to soften the character of Joe by adding Paco - a kid who, Joe is a bit concerned. It seems that they rightly decided that a hero of such an antisocial behaviour will be difficult to follow for several weeks. At the same time, it seems that thanks to the addition of this element the character of Joe is much more interesting, because I will not hide that in the novel is a little one-dimensional and I will not say boring but it is much easier to decide what we think about him.
The novel differs from the series in several elements. First of all it is closed - it is true that another part was created, but some open elements in the series are definitely closed. At the same time I will not hide - in my opinion, the decision of the author is definitely a a better idea, it leave no doubt that Joe has a few nasty acts - which are more open on the show. In any case - if the book irritated me in few places (mainly because it was quite uniformly homogeneous in my narrative), I think that this solution is better. The book also explains some phenomena somewhat better which in the series have been somewhat overlooked. Even if we understand exactly why Joe can use Beck phone for so long, or it answers as much as possible, how it is possible that the heroine did not know (or maybe knew) that she was stalked for so long. In addition, the differences are rather minor - the most important is the lack of Paco, and in my opinion, rather due to the fact that the narrative has a completely different path in the book and the series. Most of the differences are at the end of the book mainly because it is clear that the writers were getting ready for the next seasons, which I suspect may be even more different from the starting material.
I am very curious if I would react to the book if I read it first and then watch the series. I have the impression that my perception of Beck itself would change very much. In the book, we actually see it only with the eyes of our hero, who on the one hand is in love with her on the other one can see that his obsession takes on a very sexual character, there are still thoughts about sex or about the sexual life of Beck. The series is definitely less, and at the same time Beck is not only reduced to how Joe sees her. Its clear narrative is dominant and many of the heroine's features are repeated, but we still have the opportunity to get an opinion about it not only by looking at Joe's eyes. This changes the perspective quite a bit because here we feel that our narrator is unbelievable, fixed and highly appreciative. It is true that neither in the novel nor in the series Beck does not fall on some super nice and embraced girl, but ultimately - not everyone must be super-gripped and sympathetic to deserve a life without a stalker under the window. In any case, it seems to me that while Beck's from TV series can be liked, Beck's from book seems to be more of a description character than the character itself. Anyway, you probably know how much the reception changes the fact that the character has the face of an actor or actress, which especially in the case of beautiful people changes their perception.
However, I will not hide - I do not mind the serial cover I the novel. No matter what I feel for the main character, it's nice to have a cover from which a handsome actor looks. But, seriously, I have the impression that the novel and the series are perfect for interesting comparisons, how much in our reception of history changes the fact that we are watching something played by actors or reading. Apparently it is absolutely obvious, but here it is clearly visible, how much the same words spoken in a pleasant Badgley voice sound different than when they are pronounced by a Joe from the book, whom we must imagine. Anyway, I'm curious how exactly Joe would have imagined who did not see the show and would have to describe his appearance solely on the basis of the novel. At the same time, it is a good lesson of how scriptwriters try to mitigate the unpleasant character and slightly nuance it. Again, I have the impression that it is easier to read the thoughts of disgusting people than to listen to them in the show. And actually it does not bother that both the series and the book catch on popular guilty pleasure. In total, sometimes observing such treatments is more interesting in the case of popular literature than literary masterpieces. Maybe because then the answer to the question of who approach to the story has turned out better is not so easy.
I will not convince you that "You" is an outstanding book. A bit like a show, at some point the story begins to gather in a single place a bit too many events and these events are slightly unlikely. No less if the series can be considered as specific chips for the brain, then the book would be nachos. Something that you feel like every now and then, most often at bedtime, when all the stores are closed, and what you should not eat too much, but from time to time you can. And that's the way you are. In my opinion, perfect for traveling, because it draws in, but at the same time - I know that it will sound funny, it is read as easily as the series. In any case, I would definitely recommend it for the summer. Especially as the message of the book and the show is similar - stalking is now easier than ever and still, it is one of the nastiest human behaviors. It is true that in my opinion it should not lead us to delete profiles in social media, but rather to increase awareness that people who cross borders are a real threat, and not only we should be careful but it would also be good if we were better guarded (stalking it is still poorly detected and poorly tracked). In any case - you do not have to decide whether to view or read. You can always have both.