- The Lifetime-turned-Netflix series “You” is based on the novel of the same name by Caroline Kepnes.
- In the book, the characters Paco, Claudia, Annika, and Raj don’t exist.
- On the TV series, Candace and Mr. Mooney get much more prominent backstories.
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One of the buzziest shows of 2019, the Lifetime-turned-Netflix thriller “You” actually spurs from a novel written by Caroline Kepnes.
As with any book-to-TV adaptation, “You” the show differs quite a bit from the book it is based on.
Here are a few of the biggest differences between “You” the TV series and “You” the novel.
Warning: Post contains major spoilers for both the “You” TV series and novel.
For starters, Beck has brown hair in the book.
Although Beck has blonde hair on the show, she is described as having brown hair in the book.
In the book, Beck doesn’t have an awful professor who is trying to seduce her.
On the show, Beck has to deal with a professor who sexually harasses her and even removes her from her teacher’s assistant position because she will not give in to his inappropriate requests.
In the book, however, there is no subplot about an awful professor – Beck’s time at school is hardly mentioned at all.
Joe Goldberg’s neighbours do not exist in the book.
Although prominently featured on the TV series, Joe’s neighbours Ron, Claudia, and Paco are not present in the book.
These characters, let alone their names or storylines, are nowhere to be found in the 425-page novel.
Their tragic storyline was completely made for the TV series – in the book, there’s no beating from Ron (in fact, Joe actually gets beaten by a former employee, Curtis, in the book on page 259), there are no hospital visits or drug overdoses to humanize Joe, and there is definitely no Paco for Joe to look after.
In the book, Joe’s apartment is described as being pretty rundown.
Joe has some pretty sweet digs on the TV series – his apartment seems clean and lined with bookshelves.
But, in the book, Joe is really hesitant to welcome anyone into his digs, and his place is described as being pretty messy, decrepit, and rundown.
One of the most horrifying scenes on the show doesn’t happen in the book.
In the book and on the series, Joe lies about a gas leak to get into Beck’s apartment for the first time. Beck ends up coming home early, and Joe begins to panic.
But, in Kepnes’ novel, Joe simply sneaks out instead of hiding in Beck’s apartment. On the series, Joe hides in her shower during one of the most nail-biting scenes of the entire first season.
In the book, Benji never killed anyone.
On the TV series, Benji is the owner of an artisanal soda company. In the book, Benji is actually the proud owner of an “organic club soda company that symbolises everything bad about right now.”
One thing does remain the same between the book and movie: Benji is a narcissist who happens to really be allergic to peanuts and could care less about Beck.
Unfortunately, the TV show does change a significant part of Benji’s storyline, having him reveal to Joe that he killed one of his friends and caught the whole thing on tape.
This detail was perhaps added to help Benji look like more of a bad guy, making Joe seem a bit “justified” in killing the rival suitor.
In the book, Joe quizzes Benji about books while holding him captive.
While holding Benji captive, Joe frequently gives Benji books to read and tries to quiz him on them later.
On the show, Joe doesn’t give Benji any sorts of exams or assignments, other than the “Which soda is yours?” beverage test (which also appears in the book).
In the book, Beck doesn’t have to work and she’s not financially struggling as much.
In the book, Beck isn’t a broke student who really needs a job – at least there’s not much of an indication that she is, anyway.
On the TV show, she’s a yoga teacher who has to balance early morning classes with her tough teaching-assistant schedule. None of this happens in the book.
In the book, Beck lives in an apartment meant for Brown graduates pursuing a graduate degree in New York City. She won the apartment by writing a winning essay for The Brownstone Biased Lottery.
And, while she could probably afford curtains, both the show and book maintain that Beck’s apartment windows remain bare, allowing Joe to do all of his peeping activity unobstructed.
And, while we’re on the topic of Beck’s finances, in the book, Peach never offers to give Beck money to hold her over as she does on the show.
Annika doesn’t exist in the book.
Beck’s influencer friend Annika is a character created solely for the TV series.
In the book, Beck’s go-to friends are Chana and Lynn. Neither character plays a major role in the book, hardly interacting with Joe at all.
On the other hand, the TV show frequently depicts Beck’s friends hanging out with Peach, but in the book, Peach likes to keep Beck’s other friends at bay and neither girl seems to mind as they dislike Peach.
There are several more characters on the show that are not in the books.
On the show, Beck and Joe accidentally run into Maddie Johnson at one of Peach’s parties, where Johnson slyly asks about Candace moving to Italy and ghosting literally everyone she’s ever known – planting seeds of suspicion in Beck’s head. But this doesn’t happen in the book as Johnson isn’t a character in Kepnes’ original novel.
Elijah, the guy Joe was supposed to have killed after finding out he slept with Candace, is also not in the novel.
And neither is Raj, who has an interesting “sleepover” with Peach and Beck in Greenwich.
In the book, Joe works with a high-schooler long before working with Ethan.
In the book, Joe notably works with a lazy high-school kid named Curtis prior to working with Ethan.
Joe fires Curtis after he gives Beck Joe’s address. As mentioned earlier, Curtis later retaliates by sending his friends to attack Joe.
Candace has more of an established life on the TV series.
In the novel, the reader doesn’t get too much insight into who Candace was – other than she was one of Joe’s previous girlfriends who he definitely killed.
On the show, however, Candace is given a whole storyline. She’s an angsty musician who eventually signs with a producer (who she’s also sleeping with) before moving to Rome.
Oh, and contrary to the TV show, Beck never tries to investigate what happened to Candace in the books – the reader isn’t even sure Beck even knows who she is.
In the book, Peach is not super suspicious of Joe.
In the book, Peach (played by Shay Mitchell) never confronts Joe about his obsession with Beck even though she does so on the TV show.
In Kepnes’ novel, Peach does think she has a stalker but doesn’t mention that she believes it is Joe. She also doesn’t attack Joe with a gun after finding him in her vacation house.
Peach also dies differently in the books.
On the TV series, it’s implied that Joe shoots Peach – and Peach’s suicide note is left, typed, on her laptop.
In the book, Joe drowns Peach on the beach, sending an ambiguous note to Beck from her phone before filling her pockets with rocks and dumping her lifeless body in the ocean.
Unlike on the TV series, no one notices that Peach has died for a few weeks and there’s no immediate commotion surrounding her death.
In the book, Joe doesn’t get caught at the Dickens Festival.
Joe isn’t the stealthiest stalker on the show. In fact, he gets caught at the Dickens Festival red-handed, but quickly lies to Beck and is then invited to a super awkward Beck family dinner.
However, in the book, Joe actually purchased a Dickensian costume (and a beard, although it is not of the Dickensian style) to blend in at the celebration. He loses his beard after violently puking while onboard a ferry and is almost caught by Beck but he makes it out of the whole ordeal unseen.
In the book, there is also not much emphasis on Beck’s father’s new family other than that she’s mostly disliked by them.
Karen Minty is a bit different in the book.
Unlike the book, Karen Minty on the TV series is a kindhearted do-gooder who is relatively normal.
In the book, Joe begins to date Minty after a therapy session with Dr. Nicky when Dr. Nicky suggests he could get the “mouse out of his house” by finding a ” stray cat.”
Joe interprets this by trying to replace Beck with a new lover. In the book, Joe meets Minty in the subway and they have a conversation and begin to have a bunch of sexual-fuelled encounters.
On the TV series, Minty is his neighbour Claudia’s sister who has come to visit. As aforementioned, Claudia doesn’t exist in the book series.
One thing does remain true in both the book and the show is that Minty is a nurse and she does briefly date Joe.
The creepy box of Beck’s personal belongings is hidden somewhere else in the book.
Among the dozens of other details that changed between the on-screen adaptation of Kepnes’ novel, a big one was when, on the TV show, Beck discovers “The Box of Beck” filled with her stolen mementos in the ceiling of Joe’s bathroom.
In the book, Beck has to climb into a tapestry-covered hole in the wall (made by Joe after tossing a typewriter through it) in order to discover the box.
Joe didn’t try to conceal the box because he believed no woman would ever climb up to look inside a hole.
In both the show and the novel, Beck does find a pair of her panties, a used tampon, and even her yearbook inside the secret box – but in the book she doesn’t find any creepy “souvenirs” that Joe kept of his past kills.
In the book, there’s nothing belonging to Benji, Peach, or Candace is found in the box. There aren’t any teeth, either. In fact, when Beck finds the box, all she thinks is Joe is a “twisted panty-hoarding creep.”
There’s not much indication that Beck knows Joe killed Peach, Candace, or Benji by the time she dies in the novel, but Beck knows the truth before her death on the TV show.
Mr. Mooney’s abuse toward Joe is shown on the TV series, but it is never mentioned in the books.
On the series, viewers frequently see flashbacks detailing Mr. Mooney’s abusive behaviours toward Joe, like locking him in the basement cube.
The series likely added these flashbacks to try to have viewers sympathise with Joe – in the books Mr. Mooney is seldom mentioned.
Readers are never even told if Mr. Mooney was ever cruel to Joe.
In the book, Beck escapes captivity just by walking out of the bookstore.
On the series, viewers see Beck cleverly use a typewriter key to stab Joe so she can try to escape from the basement.
But, in the book, Joe is a lot more trusting of Beck. Joe simply leaves the door of the “cage” unlocked and Beck leaves.
At the end of the first season, Candace appears. But, at the end of the book, it’s a new character.
At the end of season one of the TV show, Joe encounters Candance.
But, during the end of Kepnes’ novel, Joe actually meets a new woman in his bookstore, readers only know her as Amy Adam, an attractive-looking credit-card thief.
Candace’s reappearance at the end of the season is definitely unexpected, hinting at an exciting and off-book season two of “You.”
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