The Differences Between Netflix's You And The Books: Which Novel Is Series 4 Based On?

14 February 2023, 12:07

Everything you need to know about You and the books
Everything you need to know about You and the books. Picture: Netflix

By Savannah Roberts

Everything you need to know about the books that inspired Netflix's You, and all the differences in the storylines...

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Netflix has released the highly-anticipated fourth series of You, and it didn't take us all long to binge through the first five episodes in part one.

Fans were all keen to know what the new season had in store for us, with a whole new host of characters joining the show as Joe Goldberg makes the move to none other than London!

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You is famously based on the book series of the same name by Caroline Kepnes, but which novel corresponds to which season?

So far she has released the books You, Hidden Bodies, and You Love Me, with the fourth instalment, For You and You Only, coming out in April.

Read on to find out how the plotlines in the Netflix hit differ from the ones in the books [spoilers for the novels and seasons 1, 2 and 3 ahead]...

You season four isn't based on a particular book
You season four isn't based on a particular book. Picture: Netflix

Which book is You season 4 based on?

Ahead of the release of You's fourth season, it was assumed that the show would continue to take inspiration from Caroline Kepnes' novels, but it seems it will be going in a completely original direction.

She released her third book You Love Me in April 2021, meaning it was too late for it to be used as source material for the third season.

The plot of the third book and the newest season iss completely different. As we know, in the show Joe escapes to London and carves a life out as a university professor, making friends with a group of the city's elite in the process.

The story in You Love Me sees Joe take a different path, he does leave the West Coast but remains in the US and quickly falls for a woman called Mary. He tries to pursue the new romance without his typical obsessive behaviour, very different from season four indeed!

You season 1 was more faithful to the books
You season 1 was more faithful to the books. Picture: Netflix
Netflix made some changes to the original storyline
Netflix made some changes to the original storyline. Picture: Netflix

You season 1 follows Caroline Kepnes' first book

Netflix's You arrived on the platform back in December 2018 and the psychological drama instantly made waves among audiences.

Fans of the Caroline Kepnes book of the same name were all buzzing to see a TV adaptation od the story. The original thriller novel was released back in 2014, on the most part, the series follows its source material but they do take some creative liberties...

The over-arching plotlines are mostly the same, centring around an aspiring writer Guinevere Beck (Elizabeth Lail) who quickly becomes the subject of Joe's infatuation.

Some of the biggest differences are as follows: the characters of Joe's neighbour Paco and Beck's pal Annika do not exist in the book, Peach (Shay Mitchell) is far less suspicious of her best friend's boyfriend and dies in a very different series of events, and Candace is a more mysterious piece of Joe's past and is long dead before Beck is in the picture.

Season 2 of You made a jump to LA
Season 2 of You made a jump to LA. Picture: Netflix
The second series is based on Hidden Bodies
The second series is based on Hidden Bodies. Picture: Netflix

Hidden Bodies partly inspired You season 2

Both seasons two and three are inspired by the second book in Kepnes' series, Hidden Bodies, but they don't follow the story religiously.

Season two is truer to the book, Hidden Bodies core storyline is as follows: Joe Goldberg makes the move to Los Angeles from New York, changes his name and starts anew, he does so to leave behind the grisly end to his relationship with Beck. However, upon arriving in LA he becomes quickly infatuated with Love Quinn.

In the book, another reason why Joe heads to the City of Angels is to hunt down a character called Amy Adam, a woman who wronged him and broke his heart. The Netflix series did make a reference to this by using the name as an alias for Candace, who is as we mentioned remains dead in the books – not in the show though! One of the reasons Joe goes to LA in the series is to escape Candace who threatened to reveal all of his deadly secrets.

Other notable changes include the inclusion of Ellie Alves (Jenna Ortega), as Delilah (Carmela Zumbado) never had a little sister in the books, and she was much less integral to the main plot.

Now on to Love, who is portrayed by Victoria Pedretti on the show, this is where the differences get major! In the books she does accept and love Joe despite his murderous past, however, she herself is not a murderer. As we all know, Love is just as twisted as Joe (if not more) in the TV version so this is a pretty big change!

You's third seasons sets off on a new trajectory
You's third seasons sets off on a new trajectory. Picture: Netflix
Joe and Love's marriage ends every differently in the books
Joe and Love's marriage ends every differently in the books. Picture: Netflix

You season 3 marks the show's detour from the books

The third season of You still draws from the aforementioned Hidden Bodies but its ending sets it on a completely different path, this is where it gets more complicated!

As we've already mentioned, Love isn't deadly like Joe in the books, but she does become pregnant with his son, the only difference being that Joe is in jail under suspicion for countless murders whilst she gives birth – just a small detail!

Caroline Kepnes' third book You Love Me shows that Joe and Love do in fact come to an end, but not because he kills her like in the Netflix adaptation!

The Quinn family paid Joe's legal fees once he's been found innocent in trial, they then bribe him with $4 million to leave Love and disappear. From there the book takes a completely different direction from where season four picks up – the more you know!

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