Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Review: You by Charles Benoit


This wasn't the way it was supposed to go.

You're just a typical fifteen-year-old sophomore, an average guy named Kyle Chase. This can't be happening to you. But then, how do you explain all the blood? How do you explain how you got here in the first place?

There had to have been signs, had to have been some clues it was coming. Did you miss them, or ignore them?

Maybe if you can figure out where it all went wrong, you can still make it right. Or is it already too late?

Think fast, Kyle. Time's running out. How did this happen?

In his stunning young-adult debut, Charles Benoit mixes riveting tension with an insightful—and unsettling—portrait of an ordinary teen in a tale that is taut, powerful, and shattering.


The Short Version:
Entrancing and guttingly real, You combines a unique writing style, a relatable mess of a main character, and a shocking string of events for one powerful punch. Written as if both speaking to the reader and writing as if the reader were actually Kyle, the title denotes the narrative while the book still centers around Kyle. With a steady building of events and a jaw dropping conclusion, You will leave the reader reeling and dumbfounded in all the best ways.

The Extended Version:
Kyle is a slacker, a failure, and a mess. He looks at where he’s at in his life, and tries to figure out how he got there. He’s the kid you brush off and ignore, but he’s also kind and a good friend when given the chance. He’s quiet and lost in himself, but he has many redeeming and endearing qualities about him. He is absolutely real, raw in so many unflinching ways, with everything laid out about him, both the good and bad. He has a temper and a penchant for violence, but nothing too major or necessarily concerning. Kyle straddles the line between dangerous and teenage, still learning to control his temper and actions.

Zack is the new kid at school and a large force in the plot. He is charming in all the worst ways, and thrives on his interactions—however messed up—with others. His own personality and psychology are intriguing, and he would certainly make a strong character for his own book, but cast in the light of Kyle, he leaves a lingering bad feeling throughout. His actions are reprehensible at times, and gutting at others despite the humor and charisma he brings with him.

The second person narrative is interesting, creating an interesting mix of informal, personal narrative and pulling the reader in as though they are the ones walking in Kyle’s shoes. Adding to this is the lack of chapter designations, with only line breaks to indicate a new section. This gives a different feel for the life-like progression of time and flows smoothly. Insight is still strongly given to Kyle’s mind, showing his crushes, his wants, and his feelings. The shift and mix of this is fantastically well handled, and though it could be something that turns people off from the book, Benoit has skillfully handled the technique. A strong impact of the book, in the end, comes from this narrative and the genius behind it is very clear.

The underlying messages of this book are potent and striking. Benoit has weaved a series of seemingly unrelated events together to lead to a fantastic, jaw dropping ending. With a sense of urgency and dread steadily building, and an innate fear of the worst, the reader is pulled in to Kyle’s thoughts and actions even without the direct narrative. With some brilliant flashes of insight and connection, Benoit drives some strong points home before his explosive and gaping ending. Kyle's crush on a girl named Ashley, his borderline temper, and a long string of choices are what drive the book to the conclusion, truly making the reader step back with questions about their own life and choices.

You holds many of the fantastic elements that make up strong contemporary fiction. Mixing humor throughout an otherwise gripping story, and throwing in some surprising events and twists, You has many stunning scenes and a strong overall arc. With a gutting nature, a gritty, raw and real main character, and a steady stream of events, You will hit with a range of audiences.
Source: ARC gifted from a friend
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (August 24, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061947040
ISBN-13: 978-0061947049


  1. Great review. This sounds like a really complex book. The second person perspective is unusual. But it's good that you still felt like you could "get" Kyle.

  2. Ooooh! Sounds like a great read, I'll be looking for it. Great review! =)

  3. He's from my hometown - holla! Glad you liked it! :)

  4. I love your reviews SO much! They always make me want to run out and buy the book asap.

  5. This sounds great, awesome review :)

  6. LOVE the sound of this one. I've been reading a lot of good reviews for this one so it's definitely on my TBR list.