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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

#allthebookreviews: Providence by Caroline Kepnes @randomhouse @carolinekepnes

by Caroline Kepnes

Thanks so much to Random House / Lenny Books for these copies.
As huge fans of Kepnes, Jessica and I were thrilled to get these gifted copies.

Publisher:  Lenny
Publish Date:  June 19, 2018
400 Pages
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary

A propulsive new thriller about the obsessive nature of love when an intensifying relationship between best friends is disrupted by a kidnapping.Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other, though they can never find the words to tell one another the depth of their feelings. When Jon is finally ready to confess his feelings, he's suddenly kidnapped by his substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.

Mourning the disappearance of Jon and facing the reality he may never return, Chloe tries to navigate the rites of entering young adulthood and "fit in" with the popular crowd, but thoughts of Jon are never far away.

When Jon finally escapes, he discovers he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to protect Chloe and find the answers to his new identity--but he's soon being tracked by a detective who is fascinated by a series of vigilante killings that appear connected.

Whisking us on a journey through New England and crashing these characters' lives together in the most unexpected ways, Kepnes explores the complex relationship between love and identity, unrequited passion and obsession, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

My Review:

Well, this was NOTHING like I expected it to be!  Partially this is my fault because I had read the synopsis AGES ago and completely forgot about it and went into this fairly blind.  I was expecting something more along the lines of a thriller (which I wouldn't QUITE categorize this in) and instead got a part contemporary, part romance, part sci-fi/mystery type read.  Please, for those who are so anti sci-fi for some reason, bear in mind this plays a lesser part to the story than the contemporary "mystery" type feel that we get even though it is a big part of the book.  Don't quite know what I mean?  Well, that's actually what I LOVE about this book.  I pretty much had no idea what was happening the entire time.  I don't know if it's my lack of knowledge of Lovecraft, which seemed to be referenced a lot, or that it never quite gave me any of the answers that I wanted. 

I do applaud the uniqueness of this story and absolutely felt for Jon and Chloe throughout the entire read.  However, at a certain point I could feel my interest wane.  I needed to know exactly how it would play out and what exactly DID happen to Jon?!  Although I think the answers towards the end were supposed to round it all out for me, either I missed some of the point or it just didn't quite work for me.  I can't quite pinpoint exactly the reasoning behind what didn't work for me. 

What DID work for me was the intricate way in which Kepnes brought you right into the story.  I love all the characters... well except for maybe one particular guy but that's a whole other story.  This really, to me, felt more of a story of Jon and Chloe and their trials and tribulations while having to be a part - with neither of them fully knowing the reason why.  This is a look at relationships, friendships, love and the intricate threads that come with all of them.

There's absolutely no taking away from the talent that is Kepnes.  While I'm left still feeling a bit befuddled, I did love the relationship between Jon and Chloe.


Jessica's Review:

When starting PROVIDENCE by Caroline Kepnes, I would highly recommend going into it not expecting a straight-up thriller. This book is so hard to place in just one genre. There are mystery elements, part coming-of-age and part romance, there was a hint of sci-fi, and then some procedural elements as well - with plenty of Lovecraft references to go around. It sounds like a crazy mix but Kepnes perfectly pulls it off! 

Jon and Chloe have been best friends since they can remember, but they have never been able to truly express the full extent of their feelings to each other. One day, Jon is kidnapped and their worlds are turned upside down. More questions arise after Jon manages to escape - what really happened to him?
I couldn't believe how effortlessly Kepnes seemed to weave these characters together throughout the novel. We jump between alternating perspectives as Jon is trying to navigate through life now that he has escaped. "Kepnes explores the complex relationship between love and identity, unrequited passion and obsession, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two." This is from the synopsis, and I think that this perfectly sums up what you can expect to see in this novel. 

This started out strong and kept me sucked in, there was a little bit of a change of pacing in the middle, but not enough to take me out of it. If you're a fan of Lovecraft, then you'll appreciate all of the references that are sprinkled throughout the book. If you're unfamiliar with his work, then don't let this deter you. I've seen from plenty other reviewers that really enjoyed this book without having any background on Lovecraft!

Overall, I really enjoyed this genre melding read. There's no denying the incredible writing talent Caroline Kepnes has and I will definitely be looking for more from her in the future! 

I give this 4/5 stars!

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