When the newest book, Providence, by Caroline Kepnesbecame available, I excitedly requested and downloaded it on NetGalley. Her first book, You, is one of my favorites, and her second, Hidden Bodies, was very strong. I rushed through Providence this week turning the pages and watching a strange story unfold before my eyes. There are many parts I enjoyed, a few I thought were just okay, and in the end would give it about 3.5 stars.
Let’s start out with a little bit about the story… two teenagers are best friends in love with one another but unwilling to tell the other. We see why they click and what is appealing in both. Then Jon goes missing. The book jumps several years later and Chloe is now dating the guy who picked on Jon when they were younger. We have no idea what happened to Jon. More time passes and we find out Jon was kidnapped by someone at their school, and when he wakes up, he’s been in a medically-induced coma for years. He’s physically matured and somehow developed a bit of a supernatural power. This is where I got worried… I’m not a fantasy or sci-fi reader, but I’m trying to branch out, so this was a really great opportunity to check out another genre.
I wasn’t disappointed. It was exactly what I thought it would be. I love how the ‘other worldly’ talents integrate into the story, but I had tons of questions like a two year old: why, how, when, where, what… yet I believe it’s important as a reader to hold your own questions at bay and read with an open mind. I never got the answers, but then again, you don’t always get them in sci-fi or fantasy (from what I understand). It just happens and you go with the fun aspects of something new or different. That said, I found ways to enjoy the book for what it is. A coming-of-age story where the main character is a bit older than normal because of everything he’s gone through. And you end up questioning what is right and wrong. Is one bad or evil action able to be redeemed, or should someone suffer / die because of it.
Throughout the course of the ~400 pages, Jon struggles to balance his love for Chloe and his inability to control the powers when he gets emotional. It’s a love story, a suspenseful drama, a mystery chase, and a bit of a reflection on life. Kepnes is fond of (and strong at, too) developing characters with obsessions, social media-frenzied anxiety, and over-indulgence in human emotional needs. I mean this in a positive way, too. She gets right to the core of what makes some people tick or focus on the little details that sit within a person’s mind all day long. It helps pull you in to the story and the characters.
Many readers will compare this to You, and if they aren’t sci-fi or fantasy genre buffs, they may struggle a little. I am not familiar with HP Lovecraft’s books, which are a central theme in this one. Although Kepnes does a good job and explaining what you need to know, it would be better if you had read Lovecraft. I hope readers will see this as something similar yet purposely different to both books, as it stands out as an interesting and quick read where you see a different slice of humanity and psychological rhythm. Character development is spot on. Plots are woven well. Settings are very clear. And there’s a subtle page-turning push you feel trying to understand where it’s all going.
For me, it’s a good book. I’m glad I read it. I’d recommend it only to folks I think would be willing to cross all the different genres and go for a peculiar and crafty ride. Thanks to NetGalley, Kepnes and her publisher for getting me an early copy.
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.