“Part love story, part supernatural thriller and completely engrossing” (People)—from the acclaimed author of You, now a hit Netflix series
“A dark beauty of a book, Providence kept me up at night with characters that made my heart a little bigger.”—Jessica Knoll, New York Times bestselling author of Luckiest Girl Alive
Best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe share an intense, near-mystical bond. But before Jon can declare his love for his soul mate, he is kidnapped, and his plans for a normal life are permanently dashed. Four years later, Jon reappears. 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 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 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 shocking whodunit he never could have predicted.
With an intense, mesmerizing voice, Caroline Kepnes makes keen and powerful observations about human connection and how love and identity can dangerously blur together.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY REAL SIMPLE
“Providence is a novel that doesn’t fit into one box—it’s tender and dark, eerie and cool, heartbreaking but also an affirmation of the power of love. Kepnes perfectly captures each character’s struggle and pain in such a unique, unconventional way that every page—every sentence—is a delightful surprise.”—Sara Shepard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars
“Caroline Kepnes is cool right this minute. . . . [Providence is] terrifically conceived and executed. . . . Kepnes has an exhilarating, poppy, unexpected voice.”—The New York Times Book Review
“An addictive horror-tinged romance that’ll keep you guessing.”—Entertainment Weekly
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.30(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Caroline Kepnes is the author of You and Hidden Bodies. She has worked as a pop-culture journalist for Entertainment Weekly and as a TV writer on 7th Heaven and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, she now lives in Los Angeles.
Read an Excerpt
I brung Pedro home for Thanksgiving break and tomorrow I have to bring him back to school. You’re not supposed to say brung. You’re supposed to say brought. But I like the way brung sounds, like you’re cold and ringing a bell. Brrrrunggggg. Nobody can kick your ass for what you think in your mind, not even your mom. Mine is stirring spaghetti sauce on the stove and shaking her head at me.
“Get that rat outta my kitchen,” she says.
“Pedro’s not a rat,” I say. “He’s a hamster.”
My mom doesn’t budge. “Whatever he is, he’s not staying in my kitchen. I’m not gonna keep repeating myself, Jon. Take that thing outside. Now.”
She always calls it my kitchen, same way my dad calls the TV my TV and the puffy chair my chair. My only territory is my bedroom. I guess my shed too, but that’s in the woods and technically it belongs to Mrs. Curry. Everything else, in the house, indoors, belongs to my parents.
I take Pedro outside to the swing set even though I’m too old for it. He shivers.
“Come on, little guy,” I say. “You’re from New Hampshire. You can handle it.”
The truth is, I don’t know if Pedro was born here. Maybe he was born in Bermuda and got shipped here. This is my home, where I started. I was born at Derry Hospital outside of Nashua. Three days before Carrig Birkus. Sometimes, when he’s kicking my ass, I think about how we were in the hospital at the same time. I picture us as newborns in nearby cribs. I see our dads waving at us. We were equals in a way. Back then you probably couldn’t tell us apart. But now we’re opposite. Carrig is a jock. One of those guys with buddies. His life is keg parties and girls. He cracks a joke and everyone laughs, and he knows how to speak to people, how to get to them. Last month his picture was in the window at Rolling Jack’s, the sports store in the mall. He was ATHLETE OF THE MONTH.
I’m not anything of the month. Chloe laughed when I said that to her.
“That’s a good thing,” she said. “The worst thing you can do is peak in middle school.”
She always says the right thing, the nice thing. I can picture her photo and her name up at another store, PERSON OF THE MONTH. I’d never say that though. I know that much.
Tomorrow we go back to school, which means seeing her again, Chloe Smells Like Cookies. That’s what I call her in my head. Every time my mom makes cookies, no matter what they are, oatmeal raisin or chocolate chip or caramel, they smell like Chloe. Chloe Smells Like Cookies doesn’t make fun of me. She sits with me at lunch even though the other girls laugh at her and the other guys tell her she is wasting her time on a faggot.
Chloe hates that word. She says after high school she’s gonna live in New York City where nobody uses that word. She thinks the people in our school have small brains and small hearts. She says New York is like Sesame Street for grown-ups, everyone has big hearts and you can be anything you want to be. She was there for Thanksgiving this week. Her parents took her to see the parade. She saw all the floats when they were shriveled and flat on the ground.
We’ve been texting a lot all week. She says I’d love New York.
It’s so much bigger than New Hampshire even though it’s smaller, you know?
I get it, Chloe. I wish I was there.
Of course you do. You always get it!
My mom yells: “Dinner!”
I write back fast: See you tomorrow.
She sends me a smiley face. That’s code for Me too, Jon.
The house smells like spaghetti and broccoli, and my mom asks if I left Pedro outside and I tell her I did even though he’s in my pocket. My dad picks up the broccoli and puts it in the microwave.
“What are you doing?” my mom asks. “It’s cooked just fine.”
“I can’t stand that smell,” he says.
“It’s good for you, that smell.”
My dad grunts. He’s a burly guy who does drywall and plays pool. A lot of the guys around here think he’s weird because he has a Scottish accent.
I sneak bits of spaghetti into my pocket. I almost get away with it but Pedro nips at my finger and I yelp and my mom slams her fork down.
“These damn schools. What the hell is there to be learned from taking a rat home at your age? Aren’t you a little old for this nonsense?”
“We’re mentoring a class at the elementary school,” I tell her. “None of the kids in third grade could take him so I volunteered.”
My parents look sad, like all this time they thought Pedro was here because he had to be here, not because I wanted him.
“A lot of people have pets,” I say. “Carrig Birkus has a dog.”
I shouldn’t have said his name. They know I’m not friends with Carrig Birkus anymore. The last time he invited me to a birthday party was in fourth grade, when people still had parties with invitations, when your mom made you invite every kid. It was a Batman invitation so I showed up in my Spider-Man outfit but everybody else was in normal clothes. Sometimes I feel bad for my parents, like they’d do better with one of the other babies from that day, the kind who plays sports and wears the right clothes to a stupid party.
I look at my mom, right at her, like you do when you want something. “He’s a clean animal,” I say. “I promise he will stay in my room.”
My mom cuts her spaghetti. She doesn’t roll it around her fork like people in New York do on TV. Her name is Penny and she’s from New Hampshire, so she talks the way people here talk and she grew up on a farm where the animals stay outside.
“It’s your room,” she says. “You want to live in a disgusting pig sty and let animals poop about your things, that’s your business. Just don’t go coming to me to clean up.”
On the way upstairs I sneak a box of Oreos out of the cupboard. My dad is talking to my mom about the Patriots and the Super Bowl and my mom is talking about Giselle and how beautiful she is. They speak the same language only different. What comes out of my mom’s mouth never affects what comes out of my dad’s mouth. I think Chloe and I are better at talking. What Chloe says always affects what I say.
Upstairs, I put Pedro on my bed and bring an Oreo up to my nose and inhale, but Chloe smells like homemade cookies. I take out today’s Nashua Telegraph and reread Pedro the headlines from this morning. Today is Sunday, the biggest paper of the week. I can’t read the whole thing to Pedro, but I do my best. We make it to Section C, Lifestyles, and I think he likes it.
I love news. It reminds you that there’s a whole world out there, a world of people who’ve never even heard of Carrig Birkus. Every day is new, every paper, every story. In a book or a movie you only get one story. But in a newspaper, you get happy stories, sad stories, stories that you can’t understand about mortgages, scary stories about robberies, meth heads, that kid who got kidnapped in Dover.
Last Christmas my parents got me a subscription to the Telegraph. It was all I wanted. I was nervous they weren’t gonna get it for me and I opened my last present, a sweater box. I was bummed. But I tore away the tissue paper and found a receipt for a subscription. I cheered and my mother laughed. I love it when she laughs, and it doesn’t happen a lot. She said she will never understand me.
“I hate newspapers,” she said. “Who wants to know about all the terrible things people are doing?”
“I want to know about everything,” I told her.
“But it has absolutely nothing to do with you whatsoever, Jon,” she said, befuddled. “Nothing in there is your business at all.”
My dad was tearing the tag off his Patriots jersey. “Well,” I said, “those Patriots don’t have anything to do with Dad.”
I never heard my mom laugh so hard. She hit the couch, and my dad flew into a light rage, telling me it’s not those Patriots. It’s The Patriots. We had ham and cake and peppermint ice cream and the only thing wrong about that day was that there was no newspaper. They don’t publish on Christmas. Then again, it only added to the joy of the next day, when I woke up early to get the paper out of the special box my dad had installed next to our mailbox. It was good to see that the world was back on again.
When it’s time to go to bed, I make a special place for Pedro. I use advertising flyers to build him a cozy bed. My mom is crazy. There’s nothing dirty about him. If and when he poops, it won’t even get on my sheets. “Good night, Pedro,” I say. I close my eyes and I like the sound of him breathing, like it’s a hard thing to do.
The next morning my mom hits my door once. “School!”
It’s what she says every morning. Pedro pooped in his advertising bed and I crumple it up and bring it downstairs and throw it in the trash in the kitchen. My mom points at the trash with a spatula. “Is there poop in there?”
“Yes,” I say.
“Then bring it outside.”
“But it snowed.”
“And since when are you allergic to snowflakes?”
I take Pedro and his bed outside and look at the trees at the edge of our yard. My mom and dad don’t know that it takes double the time for me to get to school every day because I have to go the back way, through Mrs. Curry’s yard, with the thorns that branch out, then alongside her fence and through the mud clearing near the Dumpsters and then back through the Shawnee family’s yard, by their swing set, and then finally down their driveway and onto Carnaby Street where my school is. It would be so much faster to walk out the front door of our house and turn left and walk down Birch all the way to Carnaby. That’s what everyone on my street does. But I can’t. Carrig and Penguin and those other guys, they come after me if I go the short way, they pound on me. They take my newspaper and smack me with it or they throw snowballs at me, black and brown and icy, the kind that hurt. When it’s hot out, they jump me or knock my bag onto the ground.
Chloe Smells Like Cookies takes the bus. She knows about my back way bramble route to avoid Carrig Birkus. She knows everything, more than my mom or my dad or the teachers. She’s the only person who knows about my shed, our shed.
I go there every single day after school and I bring Fluffernutters. Some days I hear her coming and my heart beats fast and then she comes in, throws her backpack down and starts complaining. Other days she doesn’t come and it starts to get dark and I go online and see that she’s busy with her other friends. But those days she does come, when I hear her in the woods, charging toward me, those are the ones that count.
Chloe always says we get along because we’re both only children. She hates that phrase. “It’s bad any way you cut it,” she said once. “It’s either like, ‘Oh you, what do you matter? You’re only a kid.’ Or it’s like you’re just not enough because there’s only one of you.” And then she licked her lips and looked away. “We’re not only anything,” she said. “We’re great.” See, I have that going for me, being an only child. Carrig Birkus, he has four brothers and a couple sisters. Imagine living with all those kids. I can’t, not really. Me and Chloe, we have more in common.
My mom opens the slider. She yells, “Breakfast!”
Inside, she made burnt eggs and bacon and my dad is reading the paper. He gets to have it first and he gives it to me section by section. I put the pages back together so that it feels new, like nobody has looked through it. The good thing is that most days he only reads the sports section.
“So, at the end of the year somebody gets to keep Pedro,” I say.
My mom looks at my dad and my dad puffs out his cheeks and my mom groans and my dad looks at me. “You keep him out of your mother’s kitchen, yes?”
“Yes!” I say, and I can’t wait to get to school and tell Mrs. McMurphy that I want to keep Pedro. I can’t wait to tell Chloe Smells Like Cookies. I think you can invite a girl over without weirding her out if you have a pet. I think that’s why Carrig Birkus has a dog.
I can’t get to school fast enough. I tear through the brambles and I’m out of breath as if I’m running from bad guys. I run too fast and a thorn snags me. My cheek bleeds. I stop. I take off my glove and put my hand on my face. There is bright red blood. Pedro is in my pocket, shifting. I take him out and now there is blood on him. I apologize.
I hear something in the bushes though there is never anyone else here. I turn around and my whole life doesn’t flash before my eyes, just the past few hours, the headline on the cover of today’s paper—cyber monday: is it worth it?—and the smell of last night’s broccoli against the morning eggs, Pedro’s heavy breathing, the snow, my blood on Pedro’s Ovaltine-colored fur.
But it isn’t one of the kids from school coming at me. It’s a sub we had last year or the year before. Mr. Blair. Nobody liked him. He wore his phone on his belt and he was losing his hair on the top of his head and people laughed at him all the time. But I didn’t. I didn’t.
He’s coming at me fast and it turns out I am not the kind of kid who springs into action when it’s time to fight. I freeze. I choke. Same way I do on the baseball field at recess.
The blow comes from high above and something hits my head. Brrrrungggg. Pedro runs when I hit the ground. He can’t send help. He’s an animal, and like my mom says, he belongs out here. I don’t.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
There is something doubly disappointing about the idea that Ms. Kepnes' latest novel is so forgettable. Her first two novels were spectacular pieces of twisted fiction. The idea of a character possessing strange powers that threaten others made me hope that Providence would be more of the same. Reader, lightning does not strike a third time in this instance. There are several areas in which the story falters. The first is in Jon and Chloe's relationship. The synopsis makes it sounds as if it is part of the magic that later becomes such a large part of Jon's life. However, a reader never gets that impression from the story itself. They are 13 years old when Jon disappears and still finding themselves and their niche in their small social world. Chloe, in particular, must reconcile her desire to be among the popular students and the person who she calls her best friend. I say calls her best friend because she still allows the popular students to bully and beat Jon; two people with such a strong connection would never allow that to happen to the other without interference. Later, after Jon disappears, what Chloe feels - in my opinion - is nothing but guilt. The guilt manifests itself in never being able to forget Jon. Upon his return, she continues to feel guilty at having moved on in her life while he was...well...not able to do so (without giving away a key plot point). Is there love there? Probably. Is it a mystical bond? I don't think so, at least not the way Ms. Kepnes makes it appear to be. There are so many other emotions at play in their relationship, not to mention all of the issues that coincide with being a teenager and young adult, that to call it mystical is to ignore the mundane. Also, H. P. Lovecraft and his novels provide a disconcertingly large part of the focus of the novel. To understand what they bring to the story would require knowing information about him and about his stories. Ms. Kepnes tries to provide the basics for readers, however, it is not enough to bridge the gap of unfamiliarity. I feel that someone who is a Lovecraftian would appreciate Providence much more than I did if only because they will understand some of the connections between Jon and Lovecraft the author is trying to make. So much of the novel either references Lovecraft or specific plot points of his novels that I believe I lost a significant level of detail and insight by not being familiar with either. To me, Providence is another story about obsession with characters who would greatly benefit from counseling and maybe even medication. However, Ms. Kepnes does everything in her power to pretend it about something else, and that is where the story loses me. Ms. Kepnes does not need magic or superpowers to create compelling characters; that she does with Jon and Chloe is a letdown. It feels a bit like she took the easy path with this novel and with these characters, using Lovecraft and at least one of his novels to develop the plot and relying on magic powers and a mystical connection rather than properly developing the characters. Her previous novels proved that she can write amazing stories. Unfortunately, I found nothing amazing in Providence.
Providence is the third novel by American author, Caroline Kepnes. A mad ex-professor abducts a young teenager and keeps him in a coma for four years before releasing him. It sounds like a fantastic plot, but in Kepnes’s hands, requires only a minimal suspension of disbelief to keep the reader avidly turning the pages. Jon Bronson is abducted on his way to school by substitute teacher, Roger Blair. Chloe Sayers has been Jon’s best (only) friend since they were eleven, but even she has no idea where he has gone. There are searches and vigils, and for some years, Chloe, a budding artist, updates his image, saves his favourite paper, remains faithful. Only close to graduation does she finally consent to start living again, to date a persistent Carrig Birkus. Jon wakes, four years later, no longer a scrawny teen, but a man, musclebound, healthy and hale. Blair has left a letter: Jon knows only that he has a “power”, but of what has been done to him, why, and what effect it will have, Jon is ignorant. His first encounter with Chloe tells him some of what he needs to know. They conduct a relationship of texts, calls and email. Then a classmate dies on Prom night, and Jon again disappears without a trace. Years later, in New York, Chloe’s art, inspired by Jon’s eyes, propels her to fame. In Providence, Detective Charles DeBenedictus (Eggs) is intrigued by a string of young, fit people dying of cardiac-related causes. And Jon, under multiple aliases, searches for Blair, hoping to undo whatever awful thing has been wrought upon him. Kepnes has a real talent for not just sketching characters, but portraying them in full, rich colour. These are characters that have appeal, for all their flaws and failings, and it’s difficult not to care about their fates. Kepnes tells a great story, and there’s a touch of Stephen King in there, so it’s no wonder the master storyteller has described her work as “hypnotic and totally original”: high praise indeed. Compelling and gripping, this is a brilliant read.
Normally I don't check the genre that a book is lodged under, to be honest most of them tell you in the tagline for the book these days (especially if you buy online). However, after finishing this one I have to say that personally I would have filed this one under Horror and not Crime, Mystery, Thriller (or whatever order they are in). It is exceptionally creepy and quite fantastical in it's construct; in fact it all comes across a little bit Stephen King (compliment there - I am a huge and long term fan of Mr King). The book basically follows the lives of 2 main characters: Jon - Bit of a loner at High School, the highlight of his daily life is the delivery of the Telegraph, so much so he asked for a subscription from his parents as a gift - not normal teenage boy behaviour. He has one friend, Chloe, and doesn't seem to particularly gel with his parents either. Jon also struggles with bullying and so takes the forest route to school, this proves to be his downfall when he is kidnapped one morning on his way to school and disappears without trace. Four years later he re-appears and he is changed - tall and muscular but still with the mindset of a 13 year old and in possession of a copy of HP Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror and a letter from his kidnapper telling him that he is improved. This is where things get very, very strange indeed. Chloe - Jon's only friend from High School but has a group of friends of her own. Chloe really struggles to cope when Jon goes missing and turns to her art as solace, constantly drawing Jon's face and especially his eyes. Try as she might she cannot forget him and when he reappears she rushes from a Pool Party to be with him. Chloe does manage to more or less hold her life together, going to art college and then settling down in New York to become an artist, leaving a very public social media trail so that Jon can find her, if he wants (and how badly she wants him to). We then have a secondary character who is a major part of the story: Eggie - Providence cop who is starting to wonder at the sudden upswing in young people dieing of heart attacks completely out of the blue. Married with a severely autistic son we get to find out a lot about the state of his marriage to Lo, his disconnect with his son and his obsession with work. An obsession that almost proves fatal. Wonderfully constructed tale that has solid, believable characters that you don't always like. The concept of the book is sufficiently strange to keep you engaged - even though we, the reader, know the truth of what is happening it honestly doesn't detract from your enjoyment. Maybe, it makes it all the more compelling because this is a secret we share with Jon and Jon alone. Each of the 3 character's voices is strong and individual - even if the chapter didn't have the narrator's name in it you would immediately know from the tone of the writing. I've never really been a fan of Lovecraft (give me Poe any day of the week) but I think that I now need to read The Dunwich Horror.
13-year-old Jon Bronson only has one friend: Chloe. She is the only one he confides in and shares his dreams with. The other kids torture him that’s why he takes the long way to school. Until one morning when he is kidnapped in the woods. With Jon gone, the world seems to stop for Chloe. She knows that one day he will return. Four years later, Jon wakes up in a mall. He doesn’t remember what happened in the time he was gone, only that his former teacher Roger Blair was to one to kidnap him. But something has changed, even though Jon cannot really say what it is. In his presence, strange things start to happen: spontaneous nose bleeds and people passing out. Since he has become a serious threat to others, Jon withdraws from to world to figure out what this evil teacher did to him in those ominous four years of absence. “Providence” is labelled a thriller, unfortunately, I didn’t really find any thrill in it. For me, it was first and foremost a kind of love story and some supernatural or sci-fi added that did not really make sense to me. I really liked the beginning of the novel. Jon is a bit strange, but a likeable, intelligent boy. The fact that he is bullied by his classmates just raises more compassion for him. When he is abducted and we only get Chloe’s grief for the loss, the novel even becomes quite gloomy and admittedly, I really despised the adults who were absolutely ignorant about the girl’s loss. Jon’s return is a real mystery, there is an inexplicable aura surrounding him which is hard to grab and explain. Then, unfortunately, the novel becomes quite lengthy. It’s a kind of hunt for the kidnapper without real progress. Added to Jon and Chloe is an elderly detective with a “gut-feeling” who is chasing ghosts, too. In the end, there was some kind of solution that I couldn’t really believe.
I received a netgalley of Providence by Caroline Kepnes, in exchange for an honest review. I was anxiously awaiting another novel by this author and I was not disappointed. The story follows an awkward boy names Jon who is kidnapped in middle school. Four years later he returns but he is not the same. Unaware of what has happened to him and what to make of his new powers, Jon tries to coexist and protect the ones he loves. Chloe is the girl Jon left behind and she just wants to reconnect with her old friend. However as much as Jon would love this he must stay away to protect her. The book is part love story and part mystery. I highly recommend.
This book was interesting, it was a different type of book from what I've been reading. It's a love story, it's about bullying, it's a fantasy/sci-fi, it's a mystery. I liked it. I liked John, Chloe and I loved the cop Egg. I enjoyed everyone's story, their background, I was invested. It kept my interest, but to be honest, Caroline Kepnes' other books, You and Hidden Bodies, are hard to follow. I was a little disappointed. If this had been her first book I read, maybe I would have liked it more. First sentence: I brung Pedro home for Thanksgiving break and tomorrow I have to bring him back to school. Last sentence: Chloe.
A strange, surreal novel that fits the description of a riddle wrapped in an enigma , this slightly supernatural title left this reader on edge all the way thru...a tension that stayed with me even after I finished it. It's one of those love it or leave it titles, but you'll be sorry if you don't read it to the last page...no spoilers here!
By far the best book of summer 2018!!
Providence is "part love story, part detective story, and part supernatural thriller." It is a tale about unconditional, unrequited love; a detective who is determined to solve a mystery and in the process finds himself questioning everything he thought he knew; and a "what if?" exploration about the results science might produce. When the story opens, Jon and Chloe are growing up in a small New Hampshire town, Chloe is beautiful and popular. Jon is a bit of a nerd who gets bullied at school. But the unlikely twosome are the best of friends. One morning Jon takes a remote route to school in order to avoid being confronted by a group of bullies led by the most popular boy at school. But he never arrives at school. He vanishes and the desperate search for him is futile. Eventually, Chloe gives up hope that Jon will be found, and carries on with her life. Her popularity at school does not wane, especially since she ends up dating the very boy who taunted Jon. Four years after he disappeared, Jon awakens. He has no memory of those years and has physically transformed. He has grown and is strong. His abductor is gone, but left him a cryptic note. And Jon realizes that he is not far from home. When he returns, his parents are elated, of course, and he desperately wants to renew his relationship with Chloe. But he is horrified to learn that in the time he has been away he has developed a mysterious power to bring harm to others. And those he loves are not immune. He cannot control that power or alter its outcome so he dares not be near Chloe. Living in self-imposed exile in Rhode Island, Jon supports himself by delivering papers and performing other work that doesn't require him to interact with others he cares about. He tries to get close to someone new . . . with disastrous results. Jon decides to put his power to use delivering justice to those who deserve it which brings him to the attention of Detective Charles “Eggs” DeBenedictus. Eggs is a dedicated investigator who tends to get himself into hot water with his superiors because of his determination to follow up on clues that don't seem relevant to his fellow officers. He thinks he is on the trail of a serial killer. Eggs has a troubled home life. His wife wants him to take care of himself by undergoing his annual physical examination. She also wants him to accompany her to visit their severely autistic son who resides in a care facility. Eggs avoids doing either one as he becomes increasingly obsessed with the case. Meanwhile, Chloe becomes a successful artist who specializes in painting the eyes of the boy who still haunts her. Providence is an inventively unique story about a bond between two people that defies description and all attempts to sever it. It is a tale about a young man who loses four years of his life through no fault of his own and, upon learning that he has acquired a power he neither wants nor can control, just wants to resume leading a normal life. It is an exploration of the impact Jon's transformation has upon everyone he loves -- even though they don't know about the strange power he possesses. Kepnes has woven a nuanced, complex story about loyalty, trusting one's instincts about another person's spirit, and the lengths to which we are willing to go in order to maintain relationships that bring meaning to our lives and make us feel better about ourselves. It is an entertaining and heart-breaking story that readers will ponder.
I love Caroline Kepnes’ voice. She’s incredibly compelling, creating characters that a reader shouldn’t really root for, yet we all do. In her first two novels, You and Hidden Bodies, she took a charming, obsessive killer and made him into a hero. As I normally don’t read thrillers, I was surprised when I fell in love with these two books and its main character, Joe Goldberg. When I realized that she had a new, somewhat different, book coming out, I jumped at the chance to read it, especially as it appeared she’d added a supernatural twist to it. Even though Providence kept my heart racing, I realized halfway through that it was the possibilities rather than the actual story that had me revved up. By the time I was 75% through, it was clear that all the things I thought this book could be weren’t going to happen. The ending left me unfulfilled. The premise is intriguing: Jon, a high school freshman kidnapped and considered lost forever, only to return four years later bigger and wielding a fantastical power that leaves people dead. The book is divided up by three narrators: Jon, whose only goal is to fix himself, to rid himself of the heartbreaking power he has in order to have a life with Chloe. Chloe, who hasn’t moved on despite Jon’s absence. And, Detective Charles “Eggs” DeBenedictus, who is on a mission to solve the mystery of why people all over Providence with no health issues are dropping dead from heart attacks. Providence quickly became bogged down with too much story that fell flat. I never felt a connection between Jon and Chloe, which left me ambivalent towards the pages dedicated to their angst over each other. Jon never really matures past the age of 15 and his loneliness was painful to read about. Chloe was frustrating because she wouldn’t move on, even when she felt that she was being treated badly by Jon. For me, I never sensed their “mystical connection” that kept them both from moving forward. Eggs’ hunt for “the beard” was coupled with the apparent breakdown of his marriage. His obsessiveness to find what everyone believed to be an imaginary killer was interesting but, when he does finally solve his mystery there’s no sense of accomplishment because I already knew who he was looking for. The scenes with his wife were the most relatable as they struggled to deal with their severely autistic son and his illness’s effect on their marriage. And then there’s HP Lovecraft. His books and life play a vital role in this book, which left me feeling as though I was missing something important because my knowledge of him is limited to an episode of Supernatural. 2 Stars for Providence. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for honest feedback.
Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for an e-ARC of Providence by Caroline Kepnes in exchange for an honest review. I do not normally read reviews before I start a new book in order to have an open mind to write my own review. However, I was so underwhelmed with this book that I thought it must be me. I no longer feel alone. It seems the author tried to write in as many genres as possible, thus creating a confusing and uninteresting text. Halfway through, the reader stops caring what happens to the characters or the storyline. This was my first book by Caroline Kepnes and I understand that her previous work was far superior. This one reads like it was written in a hurry. I look forward to reading other novels by this author.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. I was a massive fan of Caroline Kepnes' book YOU. It was intense, intriguing, captivating, and terrifying (in an "OMG am I rooting for this psychopath?" kinda way). I've yet to read Hidden Bodies, the sequel, but it's on my plan for this year. When I saw this new standalone from her on Netgalley, I had to request it. YOU was just so compelling that I knew this one would have to be awesome. Unfortunately, this one felt like a let down after such a great first read from her. The characters were all pretty unlikeable (I only cared for one character, a minor character, Eggs' wife Lo), and not at all easy to root for. There was very little action over all, and the plot felt like a slow trudge through a field of molasses and peanut butter in loose boots that you're not allowed to leave behind. Overall, just meh. I didn't hate it completely, and the story concept was a good one, so I ended up settling on two stars as a final rating. I will say this, if you've not read a Caroline Kepnes book before, either read this one before you pick up YOU, or just go straight to YOU.
2.5 Stars For me, Providence was one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. There was so much pre-release buzz surrounding it and I’ve been dying to read something by this author, so I took the leap and dove into Providence. Jon and Chloe were the best of friends. They understood one another in ways that no one else seemed to get. They shared an intense connection. However, on the day that Jon is supposed to confess his true feelings for Chloe, he goes missing. I was so intrigued by this. I was dying to know more. I needed answers. I wanted to know what happened with Jon….4 years later, Jon finally returns home, but life has changed a lot in the time that he was away. He is convinced that if he can change himself; get better, he can finally have what he’s always wanted with Chloe…In addition to Jon and Chloe’s storyline, we also have the one of Detective Eggs. Eggs has been consumed by a string of deaths and will stop at nothing to solve the case. How can people who are healthy just have their hearts stop beating? Eggs is convinced that all of these murders are connected and will risk everything to find out the truth…. I’m going to be 100% honest with you. I wanted so much to love this book. I really did. But, it just didn’t work for me. I was really intrigued by the story in the beginning. I wanted to know what happened to Jon and couldn’t wait to see where the story would go once he returned. That intrigue lasted about 25-30% into the story. After that I just felt confused and lost. This book has a heavy H.P. Lovecraft presence and that was just totally lost on me. I’ve never read anything by Lovecraft, so all of those references were over my head. I Am Providence and The Dunwich Horror were seriously huge themes throughout the book and they just left me with a giant question mark over my head. Maybe if I had a better understanding of HP Lovecraft and those stories, this story might of clicked for me, but it just didn’t. Providence is one of those books that you’re either going to get or you’re gonna be left in the dark, like I was. It’s going to be a hit for some and a miss for others. From mystery and suspense to supernatural themes, this book certainly had a lot going on. I think this author is a very unique story-telling and has a great writing style. Even though this book was a total miss for me, I’m still glad that I gave it chance and checked it out.
Meh...Providence is not a place I enjoyed visiting. While a junior in high school in Providence Rhode Island, Jon is kidnapped. His best friend and possible love of his life, Chloe, is heartbroken. However, she and his parents eventually assume he is dead and move on with their lives. Four years later, Jon wakes up. His only clue to what happened is a note from his former substitute teacher and captor, Mr. Blair, in a beaten-up paperback copy of The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft. The note states. “You were in a medically induced coma. You are free. [...] You have power. [...] We did good work down here, Jon, and it will be interesting to see the way things play out. You’re welcome, Jon.” Six years later, Eggs is a Providence police detective looking for the cause of a rash of heart attack deaths in young adults. His department believes they were natural deaths but Eggs is obsessed. Eggs and his wife, Lo, have an institutionalized son, Chuckie. Providence is a fantasy in the vain of the 2012 film Chronicle and perhaps Stephen King’s Carrie. While it contains the love story of Jon and Chloe, it is not strictly a romance like the author’s most popular book, You. I didn’t read You so I had no previously conceived ideas for this novel. Judging by other reviews, if you loved You, you will not like Providence much. My biggest issue with Providence is with the characters. None are sympathetic. Poor Jon had all his problems thrust upon him but as a reader I truly didn’t care what happened to him. Chloe is so indecisive that I felt like slapping her. Her high school friends after Jon’s disappearance feel like 80s movie stereotypes (the popular girl, the jock, the art girl). Eggs’ feeling toward his son do not seem genuine but are obviously a plot device. Another issue is the plot slows to a crawl in the middle of the book. If I wasn’t reading a review copy, I would have put it down or at best skipped to the ending. Some readers seemed to enjoy this book. To me, it seemed derivative, slow, and populated solely with unsympathetic characters. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend it except to hardcore Lovecraft fans. 2 stars. Thanks to the publisher, Random House-Lenny Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
This is an absolute stunner of a new read from Caroline Kepnes. Jon and Chloe are best friends growing up - until Jon is kidnapped and disappears without a trace. Chloe is left behind, always with Jon in her heart, always working to bring him home to her. When Jon finally escapes, he discovers he has a new incredible power that he cannot explain and that seems to destroy anyone he cares about. This book was terrifically surprising to me. I LOVE Caroline’s other work, and I loved that this book was equally absorbing, engaging and suspenseful - while being a complete departure from her first books. Don’t go into this book expecting another Joe Goldberg story, or anything like it. Absolutely go into this book expecting to fall in love with Jon and Chloe, and finding yourself completely lost in their world of impossible love. I don’t always love a book with a supernatural twist, but I do love it when that twist is done in a completely unique, wonderful and human way. Caroline accomplished that, and then some making this a strong 5 star read for me.
I was NOT expecting to love Providence, but I am pleased to say I spent all day yesterday ignoring every responsibility I had to devour it. I am not huge on sci-fi or anything too unrealistic, but wow, Caroline Kepnes can tell a good story. I did have some issues with some of the story line, and how a lot of it could have been completely avoided...pretty simply. but I think you just have to go into this one with an open mind, and enjoy the weird ride Thank you Netgalley and publisher for an advanced copy
Caroline Kepnes has developed an intriguing story with references to Lovecraft. Unfortunately, I have never read Lovecraft so I feel as though some of the references went over my head, which may have taken away from my overall rating of this book. Although the references were not always clear to me, I still thoroughly enjoyed the plot of "Providence'. There were some minor areas that seemed rushed but I'd say this plot was solid. I will say, this plot was different from other books I've read recently. There is a science fiction/horror underlying theme present throughout the story. While it does focus on a romantic connection, it's not a typical boy loves girl, boy gets girl concept. There were no predictable moments between Jon and Chloe like in other novels with an evident love connection. I enjoy when there isn't always a happy go lucky feel for the characters, it's more real. The different perspective chapters is becoming a trend and there are some authors that deliver this style beautifully and I truly think Kepnes did a wonderful job writing from the various point of views. Each character had their own voice and different perspective of the events that it felt like you were seeing it from their eyes. Kepnes can create characters so vividly that you feel as though you understand how they will react to certain circumstances. Jon becomes this villain yet vigilante and I couldn't help but root for him the whole time. Chloe, although annoying at times, becomes another character that is rooted for. The supporting characters were a little underdeveloped but I think that isn't a terrible thing. I would have rated this book higher but the reference to Lovecraft and his writing was difficult to truly understand. Perhaps I will have to read Lovecraft and reread 'Providence' to understand everything, especially during the Lovecraft Convention portion of the book. I also feel as though the book was rushed to be finished and that there is so much left unanswered. I hope Kepnes writes a sequel to this book so I can get my questions answered.
Amazing first read first read from this author! I think I gained an advantage here by not reading her You series before this one as I had nothing else to compare it to. If this is a taste of what her writing is like...sign me up for all the books! I was captivated by this unique story of love and loss from the first page. Jon is an incredibly relatable character, I mean...we all know a Jon don't we? I sure do and that made me fall for Jon even more. Actually, all the characters were relatable and I loved how they all had their own story. It was like getting a glimpse into the lives of that guy and girl you went to high school with. You know the ones...always around but never really stood out? That's what this author did. She took basic, every day individuals, gave them lives that really weren't all that special and created an exciting mystery that brought them all along. It's fantastic, really. The only reasoning for not 5-starring this book is that there were a few little things that bothered me. Eggs and Lo didn't really make that much sense to me, I mean I get the importance of them in the book, but them as a couple....Lo's "kids".....their son....his obsession....parts of all that just didn't really make much sense to me. I also really was bothered by the fact that we don't really get much reason for Blair taking Jon in the first place. Maybe that's something that will come later on...maybe in another book (hint, hint) but I was left slightly unsatisfied there. Those are really my only critiques and they were fairly minor. Kepnes has created a story that is both original and classic, light hearted and incredibly dark, heartwarming as well as heartbreaking. Now, I'm off to the bookstore to pick up the rest of her books!!