Providence by Caroline Kepnes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Anyone hoping to feel the magic of You or even its slightly less awesome follow up Hidden Bodies is going to be sorely disappointed by Providence.
If you're like me, you were blown away by You and you fell in love with Kepnes' depth of character and ability to get inside an obsessive mindset. Having an unreliable and murderous narrator was a bold choice that paid off in spades. So when I received an advanced copy of Providence for this review I was incredibly excited. I hate to admit that I was underwhelmed.
Providence centers around childhood friends John and Chloe. When John is kidnapped and disappears for years, Chloe is left bereft. Side note worth mentioning, this book is so forgettable that I had to go back and look up the main character's names again even though I just finished it last week. When John comes back years later his mysterious departure and now has some sort of strange powers that make him a danger to anyone he cares about…including the one girl who never forgot him.
What follows is a cat/mouse game in which Chloe and John avoid each other and try to find each other over and over again. They try to move on with their lives, but they can't. There's also a side story about a detective who starts putting together a pattern of deaths involving John.
****************SPOILERS START HERE********************
I was incredibly disappointed by this novel for multiple reasons, not the least of which was the issue with John's "powers". There is no resolution to this plot point. You won't find out where they come from or why he has them. This novel would have been better served either going all in on the powers he has, or removing them from the plot altogether. There would have been a vastly more fulfilling novel if the author had just explored the ideas and emotions behind a teenage boy being kidnapped and returned years later. It's almost as if the editors said to Kepnes…"Heeeey, know what would make this appeal to the YA crowd? Give the dude powers, yeah! That's the ticket! They'll eat it up, see." I'm hoping you heard that in the old noir detective style voice that was in my head when I typed it.
Another disappointment with the novel is the use of social media. Where You was adept at portraying what it must be like to stalk someone, Providence uses it without emotion. I had a hard time believing that even with everything standing between the characters, that they couldn't have managed a relationship via video chat. People are Catfished every day with less interaction.
I was also upset at the amount of wasted time. I understand that for many romances to be palpable there's got to be at least a little wasted time with the protagonists, but these two waste literally the entire book. It was infuriating. Follow that up with such an ambiguous ending and I was just overall unhappy with the novel in general.
Honestly, I'd skip this one. Either find something else to read entirely or go back and read one of Kepnes's other novels. You'd be better off.
You can read my review of You here: http://www.amusingmuses.net/books-blo...
You can read my review of Hidden Bodies here: http://www.amusingmuses.net/books-blo...
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