BOOK CLUB: Providence

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Author: Caroline Kepnes
ISBN: 9781471162862
RRP: $32.99
Publication Date: 1 August 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Providence is my first Caroline Kepnes and it certainly won’t be my last. I found myself completely invested but I was also able to put it down and walk away when I needed to. I found it to be more of a slow burning thriller than a gripping edge of my seat read. I’m trying to think how best to describe it because this was most definitely not your ordinary thriller, yet I’m not sure how I would categorise it. A little Lovecraftian?

Jon Bronson is one of those kids that just seems to have a target on his back. He doesn’t so much have a tiny circle as one single friend, Chloe Sayers. Chloe is friends with the popular crowd as well and splits her time because they certainly don’t mix. Jon is an only child who is relentlessly picked on, which is why he takes a shortcut through the woods at the back of his house to school; it saves him being picked on at the bus stop.

Ironically it is cutting through the woods that is ultimately Jon’s downfall. It may have saved him from bullying at the hands of Carrig Birkus but it made him an easier target for the kidnapper who whisks him away on his way to school.

Chloe Sayers is hit hard by Jon’s disappearance, having it hit home just how close they are now that he’s gone. We watch her through the early days of his disappearance as she misses him, and realises how few people really do. The Police search for him but the team of locals who assist in the search is small and they make no headway, he seems to be gone without a trace. We watch Chloe for a couple of months as she adjusts to life without her best friend and begins her path to becoming an artist.

Four years later Jon returns, completely without warning and with no memory of the time he has been away beyond being able to identify his kidnapper. He isn’t the same since he’s been away and it isn’t just the rockin new bod he woke up with. Strange things seem to happen when he’s around and he needs to work out how to stop it.

It isn’t long before Jon feels that it’s best for everyone if he isn’t around, and leaves again. I think the fallout is worse second time round because he came back, those who loved him expected that things would be ok but they weren’t. In the months that he was back he tried reconnecting but things just weren’t the same.

I really enjoyed this read, it was unique and it made me think; it also made me very curious about Lovecraft and I would love to delve into his work when I have some time.  My issue at the moment is that I am stuck on how to go about a spoilerless review that doesn’t tell you more about the book than you can get from the blurb.

Kepnes has explored relationships in depth. This is a tale of that first love, sparked when they were too young to be more than the best of friends and before it could go any further Jon was kidnapped and that changed everything. This is a situation that could have gone a number of ways but the yearning and the missing saw that bond solidify and strengthen in Chloe to where she found it hard to form attachments to other males.

Chloe and Jon were in touch a lot when he was back but they didn’t see each other. Jon had his reasons but it totally messed with Chloe’s head and sends very mixed messages, leaving her with no idea how he actually feels.

The love triangle was an interesting one, and sometimes they are more interesting than predictable. Watching it play through to the very end was eye opening in the way that sometimes you are shown a new perspective that makes everything look different.

Providence is dark, it’s different, it’s a love story doomed from the start but it’s so much more than that. It’s a tale of learning to know yourself, of sacrifice and of connections.

I enjoyed Providence, I loved Eggs as a character, and I would recommend it to people who like things a little disturbing.

Caroline Kepnes can be found on Facebook and CarolineKepnes.com.

Providence is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club Members will be reading Providence so please be aware that there may be spoilers in the comments below.

19 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Providence

  1. I don’t even quite know what to say about this book. ‘Providence’ was a story that was certainly different from what I usually read. I think people who like supernatural/thriller themes would enjoy it. I found it a bit strange, but I wanted to get to the end to find out what would happen. Sadly for me, there wasn’t a satisfactory ending. Thank you Beauty and Lace for an interesting book review >:o)

  2. Providence is certainly a very unusual novel and difficult to review without giving away too much of the story. I did enjoy the writing style and found the characters well developed and relatable. The supernatural, crime and love components makes an interesting recipe for intrigue. The love triangle which weaves throughout the story line is powerful and disturbing enough to have maintained my interest when I became frustrated with some parts of the narratives. I would have preferred a more in -depth ending because for me there are still a few loose ends. Overall though, I did enjoy reading ‘Providence ” and will watch out for “You” the previous novel written by Caroline Kepnes..

  3. “Providence” is a really enjoyable novel that could be claimed by any number of genres (romance, young adult, adult, speculative fiction) and so is likely to appeal to a broad range of readers.

    Bullied Jon and popular Chloe are somehow good friends, until the relationship is abruptly severed by Jon’s kidnapping. Four years later Chloe is still struggling to come to terms with this loss, when the trauma is deepened and changed by Jon’s equally abrupt return. But Jon is different now, dangerous, and to protect those he loves he disappears again. Chloe’s search resumes, but now no-one else understands.

    This is a sensitive exploration of relationships; friendships, youthful romances, established marriages, parenthood. That exploration, coupled with strong characters, is the main focus of the novel and a huge strength. I felt Kepnes did a brilliant job of expressing the thoughts and emotions of her characters, and helping readers empathise with them.

    In exploring relationships, she also looks at her characters’ relationships with themselves – their identity – and how that is changed or defined by their interactions with other people. “Providence” is a very thoughtful novel that should leave you with a fair bit to think about after you’ve closed it.

    As a bonus, there’s an interesting and well paced plot, an engaging writing style, and a strong ear for dialog. This is one of those really enjoyable novels that had no glaring flaws and which left me disinclined to go looking for them. I’d strongly recommend this to anyone looking for a thoughtful and involving novel.

  4. Providence is a very different novel to the norm, so if you are after something a little different, this is for you. It is well written, and I certainly enjoyed the development of the characters. The themes of first love, school bullying and family dynamics was welldeveloped. I am not really into the “supernatural, super powers” but there was enough “reality” in the story to keep me reading to find out what happens.. Unfortunately, the ending was a let down. I would be interested to read other novels by this author as I enjoyed her style of writing and character development.

  5. Providence was definately a strange novel. I had myself at times completely enraptured with the novel but also found i could put it down and walk away and come back later to it.

    It was a constant action or thriller novel. It was definately a slow building suspense.

    I found my completely invested in the characters and having an empathetic view to them. At times shaking my head at them and times where i felt i could relate.

    I would definately recommend this novel to someone who likes strange, almost supernatural, novel that is still a good read.

    Thankyou for giving me this oppurtunity to read Providence!

  6. Providence is an unusual love story. A young boy goes missing — a misfit . there are many aspects to the story. Why and how was he taken and who took him.? The story keeps you guessing as to what really happened to this young victim. The story also follows those that care for him and the impact on their lives when he was taken and the impact when the victim returns and he has been ‘changed’. When new characters are introduced to the story I was left a little bewildered as to the connection but continuing on it became clear . I personally don’t like unresolved endings and I thought this ending was only partly resolved and so I consider, leaves the reader a little up in the air… who if anyone ended up with happy ever after in this tale ! I enjoyed Providence. It was unusual and a great read. 8 out of 10.

  7. An author endorsed by the New York Times and master storyteller Stephen King, Caroline Kepnes’ new novel, Providence has been highly anticipated. The popularity of her first novel You and her follow up, Hidden Bodies, along with screen deal of her debut novel, has contributed to this level of interest. Providence is quite the departure from the previous two novels written by Kepnes, one of which I have read. Providence is a genre bender, delivering a concoction of genres from a love story, to a crime, a mystery, to supernatural and fantasy elements. It was unusual and diverting read that surprised me with its central direction.

    It feels good every now and then to give yourself a reading shake up. With my reading of Providence I was able to break free from the genres that I usually gravitate towards and try a different style of novel. Although Providence has been billed as a thriller, I would say this novel is not a story that can be easily slotted into a specific genre. Rather, it draws in many different genres and topics. At its heart, Providence is a young adult love story with a difference. There also are moments of magical realism that define this new novel by Caroline Kepnes that definitely makes you think outside the box.

    The characterisation in Providence is well attended. The leads, Jon and Chloe, are fleshed out by Kepnes. I could envisage these bold characters very easily and I was able to develop a level of connection to their lives. I grew to care for them both and genuinely hoped they would find a way to be together, despite the odds. Likewise, Kepnes does a good job of illuminating non primary characters. I did enjoy the character of Detective Eggs.

    Due to the subject nature of the novel, Kepnes works hard to build a sense of intrigue and speculation. Readers will find this focus on suspense draws you further into the novel. There were plenty of opportunities to ask questions and Providence is a thought provoking style of novel. Kepnes also uses Providence to explore the complex nature of human connection, relationships and friendships. She looks at absence, trauma, longing and fixation. The plot is delivered in a slow burn style format, with plenty of time given for introspection. Overall, the dialogue presented is engaging format that works to compliment the interesting characters.

    Although I freely admit that I am not a fan of magical, supernatural, fantasy or anything super power related, I could see that it worked within this novel. These elements were not to my personal taste, but I grabbed a hold of the romance elements and appreciated Providence for the presentation of a love story that was off the beaten track. I’m not sure about the conclusion, or the general wrapping up of this novel. However, I have been thinking about the themes presented in Providence, despite moving on from this book.

    Ultimately, I would pop Providence in hands of readers that seek something that will challenge them and those who appreciate diverse reads. The inclusion of the supernatural, magical realism and fantasy elements, which moves away from Kepnes’ previous writing in the thriller genre will be sure to attract different readers. I personally grabbed a hold of the crime, mystery and of course the atypical romance presented in the book. I’ll be watching out for the next release by Caroline Kepnes, I’m sure it will be different again!

    *I wish to extend my thanks to Beauty & Lace/Simon & Schuster Australia for a copy of this book for review purposes.

  8. Thanks for the chance to read this book Simon & Schuster and Beauty & Lace, WOW, that was different. I am giving it a 3/5 but I am not at all sure what to say. Inside the young protagonists minds Jon and Chloe is well done, you feel young and vulnerable at the start, you care about the pet from school, all of that. Then Jon goes missing and your mind turns to the usual things that can happen to a young missing child, but this book goes different and dark. Without spoilers quite some time has passed before anything is heard of Jon, and he has changed, I mean really changed. Physically and of course, traumatised. It is difficult to imagine what that would be like, even without the wierd dark stuff, to loose time, friends and miss your family aging. As Jon and Chloe get older, Chloe becomes an artist and lives with Carrig, leaving Jon out in his own world, protecting himself but also protecting others from him. It is all well done but when Eggs came in, I saw a bit how things would pan out, but I guess the dark and disturbing side made me very nervous by then. I guess that is what I want to say, the story is disturbing, dark, well done and I was nervous all the way through as to what would reveal next! Great to challenge yourself.

  9. Reappearing after being abducted some years before, Jon has “powers” that he never asked for, does not know how to control and fears the use of. They make it so he must distance himself from his family and his only friend Chloe. To find a life that he can live without causing harm. Chloe doesn’t know, she doesn’t understand and she longs for the day where she can find Jon again and repair the rift that his abduction caused.

    Eggs, an officer, keeps finding these young people dieing from “cardiac arrest”. This is odd, unusual and keeping him up at night, but no other person sees what he does. Perhaps having an autistic son has made him skeptical of things that are benign, or are they.

    I found this an odd read, something that was really left of field, so to say. While I cannot say I didn’t enjoy the intrigue and drama of the book I guess I’m not as into the sci-fi that it offered. Those who like the weird and unexplained will devour this book, it has a good story, great characters and a lot of intrigue.

    Thanks for the opportunity!

  10. Weird, took a lot of getting into and even now I’m undecided to whether i liked it or not.

    Not an easy afternoon read more so a book where you need to have time to read and understand all the complexities. Not recommended for dare i say “non experienced ” readers as they may never pick up another novel.

    Very hard to review without major spoilers.

    Stephen King describes this novel as “hypnotic and totally original” and we all know his idea of originality.

    For those that love something left field and different take a punt but those who love rigid structure and storylines, maybe give this one a miss.

  11. As a fan of the sci fi / fantasy genre I found this book right up my alley.

    A love story with a dark twist.

    Without giving too much away, this novel tells the story of a young boy who kidnapped and returned years later with abilities that he can’t control.

    People are dying and “Eggs” the police detective is determined to find out why even though the deaths are all seemingly by natural causes. His relationship with his wife and son play a significant part in the shaping of his character. I really liked this guy, but sometimes he frustrated the hell outta me!

    Chloe, Jon’s childhood girl has moved away and has become a successful artist, with Jon being her silent absent muse.

    Will Jon and Chloe be able to be together? Will Eggs find out what’s killing seemingly fit and healthy people? Will Jon find out how and why he was changed?

    Personally I hope there us another book, because I still need answers!

  12. A story of love, from childhood, through adulthood for Jon, who was missing for several years and Chloe, the girl that loved him, even if she did not really know it at the time. I enjoyed and and was instantly hooked by the story, you were drawn in, but fearful of what would happen. The story begins to make you think it will have a conventional plot, but far from it the strange powers that are conferred make you wonder-what is going on. Also once Eggs comes on the scene you can see the other side to the story and begin to be hooked into his story too. An exciting read, but I cannot say I enjoyed it, rather I wanted to know what was going to happen and then was glad it was all over! I would recommend for something different. I give it 3/5 and thanks the publisher and Beauty and Lace for challenging read.

  13. I loved this book.
    I loved Jon, Chloe and Egg. I loved the unique relationships in the story. I loved the intrigue behind what was done to Jon during the time he was missing. I loved the personal journey each takes, and the limited interaction between the characters which is so unusual to see. It’s a tragic and yet hopeful story that kept me deeply involved the whole way through. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the chance to read this treasure.

  14. Providence is a unique novel and one that is definitely out of my usual genre. I found it intriguing, disturbing, fascinating and frustrating in different parts! I loved Eggs and his side of the story. I certainly felt for Chloe and how confused she was once Jon returned but left again. And of course Jon whose existence was near empty and so lonely. Although the ending was certainly not nice, neat and happily-ever-after I guess life isn’t either. The relationships are really what makes this book.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read this intriguing book.

  15. Providence by Caroline Kepnes….thank you Simon and Schuster and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this novel

    A story of two best friends, Jon and Chloe, in a normal small town in New Hampshire. A story that could have evolved from best friends to a romantic pairing given time and circumstance. However, Jon is kidnapped and disappears for several years. Chloe is devastated and, in her grief and efforts to find Jon, develops a latent artistic streak. Jon returns after 4 years, a bigger, stronger version of the geeky kid who disappeared. Every boys dream, right? No, not so easy. Jon thinks now he can declare his feelings for Chloe but something had happened to him while he was away that he knows nothing about as he has no memory of his ‘lost’ time. This ‘something’ causes people around him to die so Jon goes into seclusion and attempts to reconstruct his missing years in an attempt to reverse whatever is affecting him.
    The story revolves around the attraction between the two friends and the hurdles and blocks to any possible relationship, there is another lover for Chloe and several deaths throughout. I found the story captivating and plausible (when the science is at least partially explained) and I identified strongly with the two main characters and their idiosyncrasies. I was a little disappointed with the end…unless it is going to continue into another book, but life is never perfect, I guess.

  16. Providence is a very different novel than I would normally read it has a mixture of genres from Romance to supernatural thriller and much much more!

    Jon and Chloe are best friends, but when Jon is kidnapped he disappears for several years.
    Jon is an induced coma and wakes up with no memory and powers that he does not understand.
    I loved the mystery of finding out what is coming next.
    A unique book with great base characters worth the read! 3/5

  17. Jon & Chloe are best friends with a weird relationship as Jon wants to be friends all the time but Chloe is friends with Jon but doesn’t let her feelings for him show. She meets him after school by herself her closest friends know of there friendship but not openly to everyone.

    One day Jon disappears and ends up beings gone 4yrs and Chloe slowly gets on with her life. Then Jon reappears and his body has changed he learns a teacher he knew did this to him. Jon learns its not safe for people to be around him and leaves town.

    I enjoyed bits and pieces of this book but not all. It left a lot of information out as to what happened with Jon when he got taken.
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read this book

  18. This is not a book that I would have picked up. I tried to read it for several weeks and then decided to put it down for a while. I did try again and got almost half way …. but nope not my cup of tea.
    Thanks for giving me the opportunity to try something out of my norm

    Thanks again Beauty and Lace

  19. Not really the book I was thinking it was going to be. I think my review is on par with everyone else’s, It was poorly written, and nothing like as sharp as You was, Caroline’s first novel. It was haphazard, convoluted and a bit all over the place and I just didn’t really enjoy it.

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