YOU, the book WASN’T better
Updated: Jan 29, 2020
That doesn’t mean the book wasn’t amazing, but when it comes to YOU, season one of the Netflix show was a little better than the book, and its second season was way better than Hidden Bodies, the sequel to YOU.
Why YOU is better than YOU
The book was amazing. It’s first-person but often written in second, since Joe was watching Beck so closely he could narrate a lot of her life in that underused perspective. But the show is slightly better. Here’s why:
Show Joe is more sympathetic
This is partly due to Paco, a character absent in the book, who is a much-needed foil. He’s like a younger version of Joe, who also has an abusive father and a neglectful mother (though Joe’s past isn’t explained much at all in the book, which is another place Netflix wins). And the fact that Joe helps him with his problems and cares makes Joe relatable.
Show Joe was conflicted and guilt-stricken about killing Benji (and everyone he killed), while Book Joe was so indifferent about his death he glossed over it. It wasn’t even a scene. (And Book Joe’s body count is much higher in general.)
The show has texting
In the 2015 book, we’re supposed to believe that Beck and her friends send each other one-sentence emails, even though… no one does that. I think the author couldn’t figure out a plausible way for Joe to hack Beck’s phone. But the show fixed this, by giving Beck an iPhone, which are hackable with an Apple ID. So, in the show, Beck and her friends text each other, like real people.
Joe’s rebounds are way cooler
The two neighbors Joe dates in seasons one and two are much cooler in the shows than the books.
The show is kinder about Beck’s death
Beck dies in a lot of detail in the book. In the show, the camera cuts away fast. That built the tension since I didn’t believe she was really dead. Show Joe is so sympathetic, I actually believed he wouldn’t kill her.
The show ends better
The book also frames Dr. Nicky for Beck’s murder, but it doesn’t come up with a novel written by Beck (since Show Joe put her in the cage and made her write finally) about how Dr. Nicky murdered her, published posthumously. (And she wrote this ending! It was her plan to convince Joe to release her.) That ending is perfect, and in the novel, there’s only a slim mention of Beck’s short stories being published as a book.
Why YOU Season Two is way better than Hidden Bodies
While I loved the book YOU, I can’t recommend Hidden Bodies. I don’t know what happened to this author while she was writing it. Did someone rush her? Did she go to Hollywood and get a big head (90% of this book is shallow, Hollywood name dropping.) or did someone actually kill and replace her and write it for her? (Maybe. Something similar happens in the book.)
Thankfully Show YOU decided to interpret the book loosely. It kept the character names and the setting (LA instead of New York), but threw everything else out, which was a good move. The structure, plot and characters in Hidden Bodies are nonsensical.
Candice didn’t return from the dead to torment Joe as Amy Adam in the book
In the book, Candice was killed by Joe the first time and Amy Adam was a whole unnecessary side story and character Joe fell for and decided to kill but didn’t.
Love (Joe’s real love interest) didn’t come in until page 100 or so
That’s insane. And Book Love was shallow, annoying and privileged. I prefer Show Love.
There’s no Ellie in the book
Another young character Joe cares for and tries to help, though this time he does a piss-poor job.
Will Bettleheim isn’t in the book
An endearing character that Joe puts in his cage and actually doesn’t kill, which shows some growth. (He’s still a monster. But making him sympathetic is better writing than demonizing him.)
The body count is drastically different
Book Joe kills six or so people, while Show Joe only kills two very bad people. (Three if you count a flashback of his abusive dad — more backstory that’s absent from the book.)
Season Two ends better than the book
Forty decides to adapt Beck’s novel into a screenplay and accidentally solves the murder. There’s also a huge plot twist involving Love, and Joe slides back to his usual ways in the last scene.
So, read YOU, but don’t read Hidden Bodies. Happy reading!