Hidden Bodies (Kepnes)

Hidden Bodies 
Caroline Kepnes, 2016
Atria Books
448 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781476785622



Summary
In the compulsively readable follow-up to her widely acclaimed debut novel, You, Caroline Kepnes weaves a tale that Booklist calls “the love child of Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman.”

Hidden Bodies marks the return of a voice that Stephen King described as original and hypnotic, and through the divisive and charmingly sociopathic character of Joe Goldberg, Kepnes satirizes and dissects our culture, blending suspense with scathing wit.

Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies.

In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him.

In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor.

But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: truelove.

And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—ca. 1977
Where—Hyannis, Massachusetts, USA
Education—B.A., Brown University
Currently—lives in Los Angeles


Caroline Kepnes is a native of Cape Cod and the author of many published short stories. After graduating from Brown University, Caroline moved to New York where she covered pop culture for Entertainment Weekly and Tiger Beat.

She also worked as a staff writer on the first season of ABC Family's The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Caroline’s second novel, Hidden Bodies, is the follow-up to her debut novel, You, which was optioned by Showtime.

Caroline now lives in Los Angeles, where she writes fiction, drinks artificially sweetened caffeinated beverages, and avoids freeways. (From the publisher.)

Visit the author's website.
Follow Caroline on Facebook.



Book Reviews
With Hidden Bodies, Caroline Kepnes delivers a more riveting, more chilling, more fascinating sophomore novel as our favorite sociopath Joe Goldberg takes on Hollywood… suspenseful, charming and unexpectedly poetic…With her singular style, endearing antihero and captivating social satire, Kepnes will leave you entirely satisfied and ready for more.
USA Today


Kepnes succeeds in convincing us to root for her insanely narcissistic yet strangely charming protagonist, and she is magnificent at satirising the collection of vacuous Hollywood wannabes that he encounters.
Guardian (UK)


Fifteen months ago, Kepnes published her first thriller, You, a debut so impressive that I suggested: "If you read only one thriller in 2015, make it this one." This sequel more than lives up to that and, even more excitingly, it extends the extraordinary story of the foul-mouthed, amoral, hyper-randy and intensely creepy bookstore assistant Joe Goldberg, who was the focus of the first book…. The nihilism of Los Angeles and the world of movies and music is superbly evoked…. But it is the character of the rampant Goldberg that casts a distinctive spell. There are hints of the great Patricia Highsmith in Kepnes’s story-telling and, like her, she never allows the tension to sag. Second thrillers are tricky to pull off, but this proves they can be done brilliantly.
Daily Mail (UK)


There’s something deeply insidious about the storytelling of Caroline Kepnes. As satire of a self-absorbed society, Kepnes hits the mark, cuts deep, and twists the knife.
Entertainment Weekly


Joe Goldberg, the narrator of Kepnes’s dark, quirky sequel to 2014’s You, is a serial killer who otherwise leads a normal life.... [In this second novel, he] undergoes a surprising personal transformation, and remarkably, the author convinces the reader to empathize with her killer protagonist.
Publishers Weekly


Kepnes received strong reviews when she debuted last year with You, featuring creepy antihero Joe Goldberg, dangerously obsessed with a woman who bought a book at the East Village bookstore where he works. In this sequel, Joe become equally obsessed with new bookstore employee Amy Adam.
Library Journal


The story reads like the love child of Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman but without the gore and misogyny, which means nothing stands in the way of the reader enjoying Joe’s cynical, murderous charm. Though it is a sequel to You (2014), Hidden Bodies may be even better on its own.
Booklist


Kepnes expertly tosses up roadblocks to keep her murderous antihero busy and the reader constantly guessing.... With its scathing social satire and loathsome yet strangely charming leading man, Kepnes' sophomore effort is well worth the read.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
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(We'll add specific questions if and when they're made available by the publisher. In the meantime, use our generic mystery questions.)



GENERIC DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Mystery / Crime / Suspense Thrillers

1. Talk about the characters, both good and bad. Describe their personalities and motivations. Are they fully developed and emotionally complex? Or are they flat, one-dimensional heroes and villains?

2. What do you know...and when do you know it? At what point in the book do you begin to piece together what happened?

3. Good crime writers embed hidden clues in plain sight, slipping them in casually, almost in passing. Did you pick them out, or were you...clueless? Once you've finished the book, go back to locate the clues hidden in plain sight. How skillful was the author in burying them?

4. Good crime writers also tease us with red-herrings—false clues—to purposely lead readers astray? Does your author try to throw you off track? If so, were you tripped up?

5. Talk about the twists & turns—those surprising plot developments that throw everything you think you've figured out into disarray.

  1. Do they enhance the story, add complexity, and build suspense?
  2. Are they plausible or implausible?
  3. Do they feel forced and gratuitous—inserted merely to extend the story?

6. Does the author ratchet up the suspense? Did you find yourself anxious—quickly turning pages to learn what happened? A what point does the suspense start to build? Where does it climax...then perhaps start rising again?

7. A good ending is essential in any mystery or crime thriller: it should ease up on tension, answer questions, and tidy up loose ends. Does the ending accomplish those goals?

  1. Is the conclusion probable or believable?
  2. Is it organic, growing out of clues previously laid out by the author (see Question 3)?
  3. Or does the ending come out of the blue, feeling forced or tacked-on?
  4. Perhaps it's too predictable.
  5. Can you envision a different or better ending?

8. Are there certain passages in the book—ideas, descriptions, or dialogue—that you found interesting or revealing...or that somehow struck you? What lines, if any, made you stop and think?

9. Overall, does the book satisfy? Does it live up to the standards of a good crime story or suspense thriller? Why or why not?

(Generic Mystery Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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