Providence by Carolyn Kepnes, 3 1/2 Stars

I’m getting to the point in the summer that my TBR list is getting a tad bit long. Time to really focus and put in that time on the couch and in my bedroom relaxing and reading. Oh and the pool…if I can manage to sit for any extended period of time (beyond 5 minutes).

Today I’m reviewing Providence by Carolyn Kepnes, a 2018 Indie Next Selection.  I read You (loved it!) and have Hidden Bodies (You #2) in my physical stack from the library. I’d like to read that one before it is due (in 10 days!) But I think I also have Riley Sager’s newest, The Last Time I Lied on my list ahead of that one because it will be released on June 19.

Doesn’t sound hugely unrealistic to read those two in the next 10 days, but for some reason I’m feeling the pressure. How about you? What do you plan to read this week, month or summer?

From the Publisher:

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:

This book was definitely a breath of fresh air. So many thrillers these days are similar, but I haven’t read anything that this reminded me of in years. It did draw from memories of Creature, by John Saul, which honestly I probably read over 20 years ago. But the person Jon becomes after his kidnapping reminded me a bit of Mark, a shy good guy who find himself and his life hijacked by someone with a strange vision of what humanity should look like.

When we first meet Jon, he is a painfully awkward teenager. Geeky, his best friend is a hamster who he sleeps with, need I say more? Okay, there is also Chloe. It’s strange though because in the beginning of the book, I don’t know what would have brought them together. She is a fairly normal, attractive high school girl and he’s…well…hamster boy. It defies the high-school caste system.

But somehow the time apart makes them grow fonder. So when Jon comes back, they realize their burning desire to be together. Except there is just no way for this to happen because Jon has changed. He’s now much more sociably acceptable from the nerdy boy he once was–he’s hunky and strong. But that’s not all that has changed.

Throw in a veteran cop with issues of his own and it makes for a very satisfying romance/noire. I appreciated the fresh story but I did question some details. Like, why couldn’t Jon have written Chloe letters? Or emails? And what about his family, couldn’t he have still spoken to them somehow?

I also feel that the how and why of the kidnapping and subsequent metamorphosis were never really addressed. I’m sure that was for a very specific reason, but I seriously wanted to know more.

Overall a great read that will appeal to Caroline Kepnes’ fans, those who like their thrillers with a slight science fiction bent and of course, those who enjoyed John Saul books in the 1990’s.

Providence releases on June 19, 2018. Special thanks Random House Lenny and Netgalley for an advance e-galley in exchange for my honest review.

Get your copy!

Indiebound

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