The sequel to You and continues much of the good work from the first book, as well continuing some of the silliness. While the first book felt like a funny takedown of East Coast Ivy League elites, this one takes on Hollywood. This would mostly be ok and work, but it can’t quite tell if it wants to say something or tell a story at various turns.
So I spent a lot of time thinking about what this book is. It’s got some Boogie Nights wrapped up in its sense of Hollywood, while also directly referencing Magnolia. It’s still a little bit Gone Girl too. But I think I figured out what I felt like it was doing; it’s a very straight Tom Ripley novel. What I mean by this is that the Ripley series works so much because of the ways in which Tom is able to inhabit interstitial spaces and hide in the cracks. He’s not “gay” per se (although he certainly seems to be) but he’s able to hide in plain sight, undermine everything, and exist just outside of the gaze of society. In these books, Joe is almost the opposite. He’s hyper present in these spaces and uses that visibility to defy expectations as well. He’s much more masculine in his presentation, but shares the same misogyny of Tom Ripley. The biggest difference is that Ripley mostly avoids such clear cultural touchstones. It’s still more fun than it has any right to be, and is as much satire as straight.