Published by Simon and Schuster Australia on August 1, 2018
Genres: Thriller, Suspense, Fiction
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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A propulsive new thriller about the obsessive nature of love when an intensifying relationship between best friends is disrupted by a kidnapping.
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.
Have you ever wondered how your life would’ve been like if there was one moment that was different? Providence tells the story of two childhood friends whose lives are forever changed by a kidnapping, and follows their story throughout the next 10 years.
Centered around Jon’s disappearance for four years, and subsequent return to society where he’s never quite the same, we hear about his fear and loneliness as he discovers he can’t be around people. There’s a sense of magical realism here as you wonder what has happened to Jon with his new supernatural ability, and how he became that way. At his core, he doesn’t know what to do with himself and his dangerous ability, so he isolates himself from the rest of the community. While Jon starts out to be a strange, sweet quiet nerd who dreams of being a superhero, it’s interesting to see how creepy he becomes as he resorts to stalking Chloe and playing mindgames with her.
Chloe on the other hand, has never forgotten about Jon and continually keeps on trying to get in touch with him. As she moves on with life becoming an artist, you can sense that she’s never quite forgotten about her childhood best friend and it’s as if she’s constantly giving him clues to what she might be up to. Even though we only see the two interact in their teenage years, you can sense the sense of attachment, dependency and belonging. Although Chloe is incredibly flawed, often letting her obsession with Jon get the better of her, there’s also something sweet, innocent and endearing about her. There’s something incredibly compelling about their connection and unhealthy relationship with one another.
With all of the mystery unfolding around their mutual attraction and Jon’s new condition, we also hear from a detective Eggs, who has a hunch that the sudden string of “heart attack” victims aren’t quite right. Despite what his wife and colleagues constantly tell him, Eggs never gives up when it comes to exploring these crime scenes. While it was interesting hearing from his perspective, his career, his avoidance of his autistic son and up and down relationship with his wife, it felt quite far removed from both Jon and Chloe and was a bit distracting at times. Often his exploration lead to red herrings, which was frustrating to read about but also made the story drag in some places.
Because the book skips around so much, both between characters and with time skips, I found it a bit disjointed at times. There are also a lot of Lovecraftian references which I’m not familiar with, which kind of disconnected me from the book a little.
Providence shows how life never really moves on after the people that impact you disappear. It shows how a love story can go wrong in the most devastating of ways, leading to isolation, stalking and obsession. While it features some interesting themes of nature vs nurture, of childhood attachment and retribution, I felt like it tried to explore too many themes at once, with an unsatisfactory resolution at the end.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for sending me a review copy!
Providence is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$32.99 or from The Book Depository.
Trigger warnings: Kidnapping, murder, stalking, child abuse, animal death
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