Caroline Kepnes can write, but you’ve probably already read You, so you don’t need me to tell you that. If you haven’t yet discovered You, go immediately to your local bookstore or library and obtain a copy. Your only regret will be not having read it sooner.
I remember when I discovered You, I really had the feeling of being blown away. It was creepy, worrying and more than a little pervy, but in all the right ways. Hours would pass without my realizing it. Hidden Bodies was a great follow-up, even though I’m not a big fan of sequels, preferring for perfect finishes to be left as such. With Providence, Kepnes’ third novel, she has done it again. It’s every bit as good as those that preceded it, whilst managing to be profoundly different. This is no small feat and as an added bonus, I can honestly say, that I would like my teenage daughter to read it too. Not You, not yet, but Providence is definitely suitable.
Providence shows that some writers really can be all things to all people. In my mind this is first and foremost a love story, but it’s also the tale of the anti-superhero with some young adult fiction thrown in. Actually, were it not for the character of Eggs, the devoted cop, I suspect this story may have ended up in the Young Adult section of your local bookstore. Whatever the mix you find in it, I know that you will agree that it works.
Jon isn’t a kid that fits in. He has one friend, Chloe who adores him but isn’t like him. One day, on his way to school, Jon is abducted by a substitute teacher that he recognizes and vanishes for the next four years. When he wakes up he finds himself in the basement of a local shopping mall. He remembers nothing, but at his bedside finds a copy of The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft. The new Jon reemerges into the world looking like a young Adonis, still himself, but not a version of himself that he or anyone else ever imagined him growing in to. He sets about returning to normal life, only normal isn’t what he has any more. His love for Chloe remains the same but everything about him has changed.
As with You, Providence is a dark book, but it’s a different kind of dark, the type that we are more used to in this world of the Marvel hero. As with a movie we can sit down and enjoy this book over a weekend, making the implausible plausible, even if it’s only briefly.