This is a deeply disturbing book about the nature of obsession. If it had just been that Joe was strange stalker it would have been uncomfortable but for the object of his affections to be as damaged as he made it very disturbing if you stop and think about the themes generated in the story. Both the characters are fairly unpleasant people and have pretensions about themselves that you only really find in city dwelling students in their early 20s - life soon knocks a great deal of that out of you if you manage to escape academia.
The narrative is all from Joe's point of view and the way he skews events to suit his own ego is absolutely horrifying - the true thought process of the psychopath. You soon realise that for Joe nothing is really there or real unless he is experiencing it and that he has the right to manipulate every event to his own ends and to fit his own agenda. I loved the way the author weaves Beck's narrative in to the tale by virtue of Joe monitoring her email conversations with friends. In some ways these two really do deserve each other, but when two narcissists collide it is never going to be pretty.
As much as I enjoyed the book I had to think long and hard about how to rate it. You see, there are issues here - one of my main problems was the disposal of, what we learn is, Joe's second victim; it just isn't feasible for this to occur. Shamefully, I have also been swayed by popular opinion and started wondering if it was really as great as many are making it out to be. Truthfully, it is a very good book of the genre and details the pre-occupation of early twenty-somethings with their self image, how they gain validation from Social Media and how carnal pleasure is some sort of holy grail. Honestly, all the physicality didn't bother me - it sits right with the characters. However, as good as it may be I fear that this is through the "shock value" of the tale being told from the wrong side of this story. Usually we hear from the victim or the investigators with only a rare interjection from the criminal. I am also struggling with my mental comparisons with American Psycho (the film as I haven't read the book) as being a baseline that Joe is based on and finding him somehow lacking.
On the whole this is a good, strong psychological thriller told from an unusual perspective - a perspective that does make you wonder how the author manages to get under the skin of someone so damaged.