Review | Providence | Caroline Kepnes

Providence Review | TBR Etc.

I received Providence as an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: 6/19/18

Publisher: Lenny

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

Rating: 3.75/5 

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Review | Tangerine | Christine Mangan

Tangerine Review | TBR Etc

Many thanks to Ecco for sending me a copy! #partner

Publication Date: 3/27/18

Publisher: Ecco

Page Count: 308

Why I read it: I reached out to the publisher to see if they would send me a copy because the synopsis sounded so up my alley- the beautiful cover didn't hurt! 

First Sentence: "It takes three men to pull the body from the water."

Synopsis: From Goodreads-

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country. 

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless.

My Thoughts: This is an inside look at a toxic female relationship. The girls meet in college as Lucy and Alice are paired as roommates. They come from a similar background- both lost their parents when they were young and have had to fight to get where they are. Quickly, they come to rely on one another, but soon the relationship becomes unbalanced. Alice has her own interests and tries to break away from her enigmatic roommate, but when she does things start to unravel. She thinks. We flash between their college lives to a year or so later, when Lucy unexpectedly shows up at Alice's new home in Tangier.  She's living with her husband, who she married after knowing only a little while. For a minute, Alice is happy to have some familiarity but she quickly finds that she's losing herself again. Alice is an unreliable narrator throughout and you almost always questioned her perception of what was going on versus what was actually going on. Lucy is a feminist and I loved reading about the roles that were expected of women during this time and what happens when a women doesn't play into it. I got sucked into their relationship- the jealousy, the posturing, the competition, the closeness. It was cloying and I loved hearing the narrative from both sides. It felt luxurious to read this and Tangier served as such a rich background. Tangier is Christine Mangan's first novel, but she has a PhD in English and a MFA and her writing made this storyline work. The publishers compare her to Donna Tartt and I can definitely see the similarities. High praise! 

Overall, I enjoyed reading this and would recommend. It's a slow-burn with an atypical setting, time period, and characters. It has a familiar unreliable narrator - but because you hear from both sides you're in on the scam. 

Favorite Quote: "...I knew there was no such thing as an absolute. Everything changes, sooner or later. Time moves along, without constraints- no matter how hard one may attempt to pause, to alter, to rewrite it. Quite simply, there is nothing to stop it, nothing at all." 

Read Alike: A Hundred SummersThe Secret History, Sometimes I Lie

Rating: 3.75/5 An intoxicating debut! 

Find me me here!