Monday, January 24, 2011

Boy Book Review - YOU

YouYou by Charles Benoit

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

YOU should have been an impossible book. Second person, present tense, "book noir" YA novel. Give me a break.

That's what I thought when I first heard the author describe his book last summer. I looked at the cover and saw nothing that interested me, so I passed it by. I saw it again on a shelf last week, and on some whim I picked it up and read the first line:

"You're surprised at all the blood."
I was immediatly bonded to fifteen-year-old Kyle Chase. Different from any other YA I have read, the second person narrative somehow worked. Second person is more likely found in advertising, text books and training manuals - "You do this" and "You do that". Somehow the use of second person blended with the dark, suspenseful atmosphere fit with this work of fiction. I felt like I was deep inside the head of an all too normal teen hurtling toward self-destruction. I felt his doubts and fears, his every emotion anc crisis became mine. And by the time I joined him in the unexpected end that is as bloody as the beginning, I, Like Kyle, could only wonder, when did it go wrong?

Surprisingly, nothing felt contrived or forced. This book hit me at a visceral level. Kyle was likeable even while being annoying (typical teen boy) and felt each of his triumphs and disappointments I rooted for him, which made the final pages gut-wrenching. That second person writing made me feel like Kyle's co-conspirator.

YOU is not a walk-away-feeling-happy kind of book. It will have you rethinking your own life and your own choices and the consequences those choices can bring. Following Kyle from the beginning to the unexpected and yet inevitable ending left me wondering just how free free-will really is.

If you like happy, light-spirited endings, this may not be your book. But readers of any age looking for suspense, and twists-and-turns, and peering deep inside a characters soul to uncover both the good and the bad, may find this book gives them that, and a lot more.

Final note - I did not understand the cover until after I read the book. Once I had finished the story it was easy to see that the cover was appropriate, but when I did not know the book the cover actually turned me away. This is another "don't judge a book by" type of cover.

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