The Plot: You.
The Good: You are you. You are Kyle Chase.
OK, enough of writing in the style of You!
Told in second person, Benoit pulls you into the story, makes the story about you and your choices and your friendships. Your slacking off (why?) in middle school, so you didn’t go to High School with your friends from the gifted program, and you began hanging out with the hoodies and drinking and getting Cs and you liked Ashley but couldn’t tell her and now you’re standing there, with shattered glass and blood and screaming won’t help because it’s already too late and how did you get here?
Some people say the teen books that scare the hell out of them as parents are the books where bad things happen to teens. Me, – while not a parent, I’m an aunt, and a friend of many a parent – I am scared by the books about kids who get lost. Not literally, but figuratively.
Like Kyle, lost without any real reason. In the first chapter, with the blood and knowing it is already too late, Kyle thinks, “You’re just a kid. It can’t be your fault. But then there’s all that blood. So, maybe it is your fault, but that doesn’t make things any better. And it doesn’t matter one way or the other. Think. When did it go wrong?” When did it go wrong? Is it one thing, the sum of many things, or nothing at all? What were Kyle’s choices that led him here? You takes you along on Kyle’s journey. It’s not just Kyle’s journey. It’s yours. What choices have led you to where you are now? Can you change where you are at?
You provides a –well, a villain, of sorts. I won’t tell you who, among Kyle’s friends, family, and acquaintances, is the bad guy. Maybe it’s Kyle. Maybe it’s you. But it is chilling – and honest – and truthful. Because sometimes, motivation for action is not that someone wants to do good or to do bad. Sometimes, the motivation is just that they can. So they do. And that is also scary. A person who pulls a string for no reason other than to see what happens. Or, because the person knows what will happen and does it anyway, to see if people are really that predictable. So a person takes an action, suggests, hints, and does it something simply to get a reaction. It is so much softer and more potent than simply manipulation. And being that person, that puppet master. That, too, is a choice, a result of choices.