This book was an amalgamation of genres. It was part thriller, part science fiction, part horror, and a touch of romance. What you got is a heart-filled story of a young boy who was kidnapped and given super powers against his will.
Here’s more about the book
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.
I honestly went into this book thinking it would be a straightforward thriller. I thought that Jon would have died and the investigation to find out who kidnapped would begin. However, that premise is just scratching the surface on what this book is about.
The story follows three particular people; Jon, the victim. Chloe, his best friend. And Eggs, an investigator from Rhode Island that’s looking into the mysterious heart attacks in his area. However, the main character and the glue that pulls both Eggs and Chloe into the story is Jon.
The story feels both character and plot driven. A lot of what you’re going to read is feelings and thoughts of what these characters were all going through and there are a few moments of plot-driven story. But this book felt super literary in comparison to other thrillers I’ve read before. Then again, this is also my first Kepnes book and I do want to check out YOU in the future.
You read exactly who kidnaps Jon and you see where Jon shows up in the future. I was surprised that he woke up on his own in a secluded room. From the outside, it looks like he was one of those lucky victims who walk away from a dangerous situation unscathed. However, once you start getting into the story you see that there is something much more seriously wrong with Jon.
Jon turns out to have a supernatural power; he’s able to kill people by just being in the same room with them. This is what happened to him when he was locked up for four years. He is somehow transformed into a mutant like this was some dark X-Men movie. And in an effort to keep those he loves safe, he runs away from his family and friends. One particular friend being Chloe.
I felt like Chloe was basically there to be Jon’s love interest. She’s the Lois Lane to his Clark Kent. She’s the Mary Jane to his Peter Parker. And while Caroline Kepnes does a great job with shaping her into more than just the love interest, I do feel like there could have been a little bit more depth to her. It seemed like everything she did was connected back to Jon in some way. Whether it’s creating life-like portraits of him or spending two years watching her phone to see if he calls, it just doesn’t seem like she’s anything more than just a love interest.
The feeling is different for Eggs. He’s a detective that’s a little on the older side, so he’s a little mocked by the rest of the police force. He’s got a complicated relationship with his wife because their son has Autism and he’s not winning any awards for being Father of the Year. He’s looking into the mysterious death and his character definitely gave you the vibe that this could be crime fiction or a thriller. Watching Eggs work felt realistic. He goes by his hunches and even ignores his wife because he’s so obsessed with the case. You get a really good sense of the type of person he is, the work he does, and how all of that effects his world. You also get the reason why everyone calls him Eggs (which, tbh is the worst nickname anyone can have).
The last thing I want to mention is H.P. Lovecraft. If you’re not aware, H.P. Lovecraft is a post-humous author who was famous for writing horror fiction (specifically the Chthulhu). The main story is centered around Lovecraft’s novel The Dunwich Horror, which is about a young man who is chastized by the world because he’s a monster. This was the book left by Jon’s kidnapper after he woke up from his four-year coma.
But Lovecraft’s work and life is all throughout the story. For example he was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, which is where some of this story takes place. Jon also wears a “I Am Providence” hat, which is a quote from Lovecraft’s novel. His “Frankenstein’s monster” self is based off a character from Lovecraft’s book. And then there are smatterings of Lovecraft as well throughout the book. It’s kind of interesting how much Lovecraft is mentioned here and as a person who has never read Lovecraft, I found it quite interesting. I actually learned a lot about Lovecraft and I’m not even sure if that was Caroline Kepnes’ intention.
Overall, it’s a great story for those literary folks out there. Don’t expect it to adhere to one genre over another and if you like character-driven stories then this one will be right up your alley. I know that I read this in a couple of days so it’s definitely quite interesting to me and my genre faves.
- Hardcover, 384 pages
- Lenny (June 19, 2018)
- Rating: 4/5 stars
- Find PROVIDENCE on Amazon
I received a copy of this book from Random House for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions have not been influenced by the publisher or the author.
Simone and Her Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way affects my opinion of the above book.
3 thoughts on “Providence by Caroline Kepnes”
This does seem to mix several genres! I generally like to stay away from sci fi/superpowers so I probably won’t pick this one up, but I’m intrigued to see that in a literary thriller!
No worries! Yeah, it might be a little heavy for those who aren’t in superpowers, but aside from that it’s my first Caroline Kepnes and I liked it.
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