Review | When The Lights Go Out | Mary Kubica
Publication Date: 9/4/18
Publisher: Park Row
Page Count: 336
Why I Read This: Ever since The Good Girl, Mary Kubica has been an auto read author for me. I also got a free copy sent to me by Book Sparks- thank you!
Synopsis: From Amazon-
Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known.
Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.
Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?
Opening Sentence: "The city surrounds me.”
My Review: The book is sad. Jessie’s mother is dying. Early in Jessie’s mother’s life, she had trouble conceiving and the grief nearly drove her mad. She ending up pushing her husband away. so it’s always just been the two of them. Soon, Jessie is going to be alone in this world and she starts to have insomnia. She moves into a new place and begins to hear voices. Her neighbor is hiding something- but she can’t say what. Worst of all, it appears that the person she always thought she was was a lie. Her social security number isn’t really hers, she doesn’t have a driver’s license, and has no way to find the answers to her many questions with her mother gone.
All of this to say, I was very disappointed by this book. I don’t quite understand what happened. Mary Kubica's writing is great. There was a solid premise that sucked me in. There was tension in the story and the setting was evocative- I was starting to feel as worn out as Jessie. But. The ending? Arguably the best part of a book (for me?) Completely unfinished. To the point where I to had to look to make sure I wasn't reading an early version of the it. I can generally buy any far fetched premise you want me to, as long as it's well thought out and clever. I didn't get that here. The twist was not shocking; the twist was lazy. I really hate to give bad reviews, especially for authors that I typically love, but I always want to share my honest thoughts. This was definitely not her best work, and it’s disappointing because most of the book was really good. It’s that last 10% that made me regret the hours I had put in to get that far. Try it for yourself and see what you think- there seems to be a small minority that didn’t mind it.
This does lead me to a question: why are endings so important? Shouldn’t we be able to enjoy the journey? If the writing is good enough, can we forgive a bad ending?
My answer to my own question is this- a book can be as tightly wound and page turner-y as it wants to be, but if there isn’t a solid conclusion, then I feel cheated. It feels like a waste, and generally books with shaky endings are the ones that end up on my “do not recommend” list.
Let me know your thoughts about endings in the comments below. Whats the last ending that made you regret the whole reading experience? (I already know Behind Her Eyes is going to be on there! But that was one that was far fetched but I liked.)
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