I received Providence as an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Publication Date: 6/19/18
Page Count: 384
Why I read it: I loved Caroline Kepnes since her debut book, You, and couldn't wait to read her latest!
Synopsis: From Amazon-
Best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe share a bond so intense that it borders on the mystical. But before Jon can declare his love for his soul mate, he is kidnapped, his plans for a normal life permanently dashed.
Four years later, Chloe has finally given up hope of ever seeing Jon again. Then, a few months before graduation, Jon reappears. But he is different now: bigger, stronger, and with no memory of the time he was gone. Jon wants to pick up where he and Chloe left off . . . until the horrifying instant he realizes that he possesses strange powers that pose a grave threat to everyone he cares for. Afraid of hurting Chloe, Jon runs away, embarking on a journey for answers.
Meanwhile, in Providence, Rhode Island, healthy college students and townies with no connection to one another are suddenly, inexplicably dropping dead. A troubled detective prone to unexplainable hunches, Charles “Eggs” DeBenedictus suspects there’s a serial killer at work. But when he starts asking questions, Eggs is plunged into a whodunit worthy of his most outlandish obsessions.
In this dazzling new novel—and with an intense, mesmerizing voice—Caroline Kepnes makes keen and powerful observations about human connection and how love and identity can dangerously blur together.
My Thoughts: This is going to be a very polarizing book. Caroline Kepnes's first book, You, was such an iconic hit and people are not going to be able to resist the temptation to compare her latest to that. While I can tell this is a book written by the same author, this is completely different from a Joe Goldberg book and you have to be okay with that going in.
Her strength is her character writing. Right from the beginning, I was drawn into the story. Jon is an outsider with odd interests like the daily news and Chloe is his best and only friend. Jon gets kidnapped early in the book- not a spoiler, just an early plot point- and he emerges as...changed several years later. We're not entirely sure what happened to him, only that things are very, very different and that it's going to be hard for him to get close to anyone. Chloe mourns the loss of her former best friend but grows up, finding solace in her art. Down the road, we're introduced to Eggs, a dogged detective, and Lo, his wife. Eggs and Lo have a son with a serious disability and the couple works to find a way to best care for him.
There were a few too convenient plot points used to drive the narrative along but nothing to distract too much. My attention was certainly held. There's a lot of Lovecraft references that I absolutely skimmed over, but perhaps if you're a big Lovecraft fan you might like that element. I found myself rooting for Jon to fix himself, for Eggs to find Jon, and for Chloe to find herself. It was interesting to find myself rooting for characters, even when their best interests were in direct competition with one another. I would rather read a unique story like this from a writer I already love than the same stories written with different characters over and over. I usually like to recommend 'read alikes' to help other readers decide if they should read a book, but I honestly haven't read anything like Providence. One thing I'm sure of is that I wouldn't call this a thriller- it's more supernatural fiction than anything else.
Read Alike: I really can't think of one! The closest is a stretch- but Eggs reminded me of Detective McKenzie from Clare Mackintosh's Let Me Lie.
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