Saturday, November 9, 2019

Providence by Caroline Kepnes

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Released: June 2018

I was so thrilled to find Providence after reading You a few years ago. I loved You so much that I kept my copy and was stoked when they made it into a Netflix television series. Providence is the third novel by Caroline Kepnes.

Dreamworld's Synopsis

Thirteen-year-olds Jon and Chloe are close friends and share a special bond despite the fact Chloe is more popular at school and has lots of friends. Jon is relatively small for his age and gets bullied and picked on regularly by his peers at school. On most afternoons, Jon and Chloe escape to a secret shed in the forest near their homes to hang out and spend time with one another. Jon is completely in love with Chloe, though Chloe is somewhat oblivious.

One morning on his way to school, Jon is kidnapped by his former substitute teacher. Chloe doesn't realize how much she cares for Jon until he's gone, and spends the next several months and years throwing herself into art as a way of coping with her best friend's disappearance.

Four years later, Jon wakes up in a vacant lot at the local mall—far bigger and stronger than before, and extremely handsome. Jon has no clue as to how he got there and has no recollection of the past 4 years. The only clue left behind is a book by H.P. Lovecraft that contains references to a monster, which is exactly what Jon feels he has become. Anyone Jon spends time with seems to get a nosebleed, experience heart problems, and/or drop dead. To avoid killing any other people—including Chloe—Jon becomes a recluse as he continues pining away for his one true love.

Over the years, Jon works toward figuring out what happened to him so he can reverse the "curse" of being a monster. Meanwhile, Chloe chases after love only to discover that her real love will only ever be Jon. Chloe devotes much time to finding out where Jon is so she can confess her true feelings and figure out why he won't reach out to her.

Dreamworld's Review

Providence was definitely original, but I can't say I was a fan of this book. I think Caroline Kepnes is incredibly talented, and I'm eager to read Hidden Bodies, which is the sequel to You. I was expecting Providence to have a style similar to You, but I could not get into this story, at all. Also, I felt there was more "telling" than "showing" (you know, the technique "Show, don't tell" — a writer's bread and butter). I felt no chemistry between Jon and Chloe at the beginning of the novel before Jon was abducted, and wasn't invested in their relationship throughout the book. It seemed too unrealistic and unconvincing.

The first sentence in the synopsis on the cover flap for Providence reads, "Best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe share a bond so intense that it borders on the mystical." After that lead-in, I was expecting an epic romance on something similar to a Claire-and-Jamie Outlander level, but I felt no magic or mystique surrounding Jon and Chloe's relationship. I kept wondering why Chloe just couldn't move on after Jon's disappearance. Kids go through a lot of transitioning during middle school, high school, and college, so it didn't make sense why Chloe couldn't just move on, go with the flow, and keep living her life without remaining stuck on Jon.

By no means does Providence turn me off of Caroline Kepnes. I'm still a huge fan, and am looking forward to reading Hidden Bodies and any other novels she writes that take place outside of the You universe.

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