I think this book is really successful (not supremely — despite what the cover tells you, it’s not Gone Girl but more so than I would have suspected). But what this really means is that the audiobook is really successful. The narration of Santino Fontana really works here because instead of the deadpan of the show (mimicking Dexter) we get more life. Joe, we realize, is not a sociopath unable to feel anything or even a psychopath unable to empathize whatsoever with his victims. Instead, he is obsessive and overemotional. He’s not exactly rage-filled (in THAT way) but is clearly deeply abusive and controlling, something that takes almost the entire book (despite his killing multiple people) to become clear.
So the other thing that makes this novel pretty successful is that all of its references to the books and movies and tv shows that seems kind of obvious to us, mostly come from Joe — so there’s a kind of self-awareness that works. In the show, someone else calls him “Dexter” which I think is a failure, but when Joe talks about 500 Days of Summer, or American Psycho, or Love Story, or other works that we’re getting references to here, it’s just works better. So even though I thought was show was perfectly fine, I think the book (and we’ll see about the second book soon enough) is solid.
I think the satire is richer than the show too. Joe is part of that satire (the kind of hipster who is a hipster about his supposed authenticity [he actually reads! the books others only pretend to]) but so are the other characters: Benjy, Peach, and Beck. Only Karen Minty and Ethan, because of their actual earnestness are seen with sympathy (and nothing too terrible happens to them).