Review: Providence by Caroline Kepnes

Synopsis from Good Reads:

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.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

Providence will be available June 19, 2018. 

Providence included some of the addictive writing I’ve come to associate with Caroline Kepnes, but it was not enough to make this book really stand out for me.

Unlike Kepnes’ You series, I thought this book was missing that one compelling character that would make up for any issues I had with the plot. Providence is told from three different POVs – Jon, Chloe, and Eggs – and unfortunately I never really connected with any of them. Pretty much every review I’ve read has praised Eggs as the best character, but I just never really cared that much about him. I thought Chloe was incredibly unlikable. I did like and really feel for Jon, but even with all he’s gone through, he still felt like a pretty one-dimensional character.

The theme of the story is supposed to evolve around love and obsession and I just never really bought it. I don’t really think Jon and Chloe loved each other. I think they’re both emotionally stunted from what happened when they were young teenagers and they just never really grew up. They had a crush on each other, which was then intensified by the whole “want what you can’t have” thing. And I hate to keep making comparisons to You, but the obsession angle fell a little short for me, too.

I feel like The Dunwich Horror should have been required reading prior to starting this. It and Lovecraft’s life and other works were referenced often and while there was some explanation, I still feel like I missed something by not being familiar with it. I also did not really feel inspired to go check out his work after reading this. It kind of seemed like there was some lesson or big emotional impact I was supposed to experience by the end of the book, but I never did.

Overall, Providence had some moments of addictive writing, but just wasn’t the book for me. I didn’t really like any of the characters and I thought the story was just kind of depressing. I also thought there were some inconsistencies in how Jon’s power works and I didn’t really appreciate the lack of resolution at the end of the book. Though I did enjoy parts of it, I’m still left wondering what exactly the point of it all was.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2.5 Stars

The Jingle Bell Tag

Land of EnCRAFTment: Jingle Bell Shaker Box Invites!:

I saw this tag over on A Novel Glimpse and thought it looked fun, so I decided to steal it. Feel free to steal it yourself if your blog is in need of a little holiday book cheer.

“All I Want For Christmas Is You…” | What book do you want to see under the Christmas Tree?

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This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills. This was one of my favorite books of the year and probably my favorite cover of the year. I definitely need a copy to go on my shelf!

“Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time…” | What book that you have read this year have you enjoyed the most?

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I’ve enjoyed so many books this year so to narrow it down I’m following Deanna’s example and picking my most recent most enjoyable read, which is My Lady Jane.

Elf | What book unleashes your inner child?

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I don’t know about my inner child, but reading the Backstage Pass series made me really nostalgic for the boy bands of my early teen years.

“It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” | Which book has  the most festive look to it?

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I’ve been really into holiday romances this year and I think Wrong Brother, Right Match by Jennifer Shirk is just like a Hallmark Christmas movie – even the cover of it – which is one of my favorite things about this time of year.

The Grinch | Your favorite villain…

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Joe from the You series by Caroline Kepnes is more an anti-hero than villain, but there is no denying this guy does totally villainous, messed up things. But I still root for him the whole time.

The Holiday | Name your favorite TWO couples…

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Kaz and Inej from Six of Crows/Crooked Kingdom

Lucy and Josh from The Hating Game

What book would you like to give as a present to your followers?

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Red Rising of course! Everyone needs to read this series!!

Top 5 Wednesday: Books I Want to See as TV Shows

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Welcome to my first Top 5 Wednesday! You can find more info about it over at their Good Reads page. This week’s topic combines two of my favorite things: Books you want to see as TV shows. I have done this topic once before for a Top Ten Tuesday, so I’m going to try to come up with all new answers.

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1. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. This book spans several years, has lots of characters, and a great central romance to root for that goes through lots of up and downs.

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2. Curse Workers by Holly Black. I could totally see this on the CW.

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3. You by Caroline Kepnes. I could see this as a Dexter-ish series with anti-hero Joe.

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4. Red Rising by Pierce Brown. Yes, we are (eventually) getting a movie, but there’s definitely enough story there for a tv series.

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5. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Action, humor, romance, magic. What more can you ask for?

What books would you like to see as tv shows?

The Olympic Book Tag: Take 2

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I love the Olympics and I love Olympic Book Tags! Yes, I have already done one, but there are 2 Olympic Book Tags floating around the blogosphere and Deanna from A Novel Glimpse, tagged me for this one.

The Opening Ceremony — What book did you think had an incredible opening?

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Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum. I was hooked on this book from the start


The Games — What is your favorite fictional competition?

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The Hunger Games is literally the only book I can think of with a competition. I feel kind of bad for saying it’s my favorite competition, though, haha.


The Original — The modern games are based on the original Greek competition – what is your favorite book based on a classic?

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Definitely, Maybe in Love by Ophelia London. A cute re-telling of Pride and Prejudice


The Eternal Flame  — What is one ship that you won’t let die, even after the books made it clear it was never going to happen?

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I usually end up shipping the ship we’re supposed to ship, so the only one I can really think of is *Ruin and Rising Spoilers* Nikolai and Alina. While I was ok with her ending up with Mal, Nikolai was always my favorite.


Gymnastics — What’s a book that had so many twists and turns it left your head spinning? (in a good way)

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Golden Son. I was trying really hard not to repeat books, but what is a tag without a Red Rising mention?!


The Controversial Judge  — What’s a book that you have a totally different opinion about than most other people?

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Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I just don’t get it. I really did not like this book at all, but the blogosphere loves it.


Beach Volleyball  — What is your favorite fictional duo?

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I’m going to go with Shazi and Khalid from The Wrath and the Dawn series. I thought they were a great example of a romantic pairing also working together for the greater good.


Weightlifting — What is the most massive book on your shelf?

A collection of Jane Austen’s novels. I love it.


Track & Field — What is a book that you just tore through with world record speed?

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I read P.S. I Like You by Kasie West in a day.


Synchronized Swimming — What is a book series that you kept reading, even though you didn’t have any idea why?

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Pretty Little Liars. I made it to book 10 before I couldn’t take anymore.


The Tortured Fan — What fictional family, group, nation, or organization do you irrationally root for no matter how many times they break your heart?

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Joe from the You series. He is a sociopath, but I always root for him.


Closing Ceremony — What book had an ending that just blew your mind?

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Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Reviewing the Unreviewed: March 2016

I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads.

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The Crown and the Arrow (The Wrath and the Dawn 0.5) by Renee Ahdieh. Read March 3. 3 Stars.

This works as a nice deleted scene to The Wrath and the Dawn. I wish it was a little longer, though.

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Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik. Read March 6. 3.5 Stars

A pretty decent Pride and Prejudice re-telling with likable main characters. Super cute and a quick read.

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Chasing Jane by Noelle Adams. Read March 5-6. 3 Stars.

A cute, fast, romantic read. I liked the premise of the Jane Austen/Jane Eyre tour of England and wish the book would’ve been long enough to really explore that, though.

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Hidden Bodies (You #2) by Caroline Kepnes. Read March 3-6. 4 stars.

It’s probably wrong how much I love Joe. He is one crazy, messed up, scary guy. But I couldn’t stop rooting for him. Kepnes writes him in such a way that I am SO in his head that his craziness almost makes sense. I thought the book was a little too drawn out and the ending was left a little too open to be completely satisfying, but it was overall a compulsively readable, enjoyable book.

Last First Kiss (Brightwater, #1)

Last First Kiss (Brightwater #1) by Lila Riley. Read March 9-11. 3 Stars.

This was a pretty average romance, but mostly enjoyable. I liked Sawyer. He was very sweet. Occasionally I thought he was a little TOO into Annie too fast (a couple times I almost found him creepy), but overall he was likable.

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The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright. Read March 17-19. 3 Stars.

A solid mix of adorable and cheesy. It’s a shame the synopsis basically gives everything away, though (not the author’s fault, though). We know Edmund is a prince so it’s not as fun as it should’ve been waiting for Evie to figure it out. We know who Evie’s mother was well before the 100+ pages it took for Evie to confirm it.

It’s also a bit of a mix of Princess Diaries and Anna and the French Kiss, but doesn’t quite live up to either. (Evie even says once, “I’d felt like I was in a bad remake of The Princess Diaries.”) The “quest” letters from her mother didn’t play as big a role as I thought it would.

Overall, though, it was pretty cute. I liked Evie, though she did have some moments where she “stuck up for herself” which just made her sound bratty and immature. And Edmund was SO SWEET. I just loved him. He did a few dumb things, of course, but he’s definitely book boyfriend material.

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Married ’til Monday (Chapel Springs #4) by Denise Hunter. Read March 20-21. 4 Stars.

I really enjoyed this book. My hold came in at the library and I wasn’t sure if I was in the mood to read it, but decided to give it a try and couldn’t put it down. I really liked the characters, Ryan especially. I liked that it involved two of my favorite romance tropes: The Fake Relationship and The Second-Chance Romance. I liked that Abby finally realized she had some issues and worked on them instead of just jumping back into a relationship and let a guy “fix” her. I thought it did run just a tad long, though. Overall, I really liked it and I’ll be going back to read the first books in the series.

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Barefoot Summer (Chapel Springs #1) by Denise Hunter. Read March 26-27. 3 stars.

This book brought me out of a book slump, but it ended up being just ok for me. I liked it to start with, but I thought it just dragged on a little too long. A lot of repetition. And this is the first book in a series and I’ve already read the last book in the series and there are some continuity issues with the character who the last book focuses on which annoyed me a little.
Overall, though, it was a sweet romance with likable characters and a good message woven in.

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RE-READS

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The Lynburn Legacy: Unspoken, Untold, and Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan. I completely adore this series and I love it just as much every time I read it. I really thought I was finally going to get a review written for Unmade, but it still didn’t happen. Maybe next time.

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh. I wanted to re-read this before the next book comes out. I enjoyed it, but I found myself skimming parts of it, too.

Love Stinks: Toxic and Unbearable Relationships in Fiction

12 Hilarious Anti-Valentine's Day Cards For People You Hate. Sending these to EVERYONE I know:

For some, today is to celebrate Valentine’s Day. For others, it’s Singles Awareness Day (SAD). (For me, it’s the day The Walking Dead comes back!) So to combine the themes of love and bitterness, I’ve come up with a list of some of the most Toxic or Unbearably Annoying relationships in fiction.

TOXIC RELATIONSHIPS

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Nick and Amy Dunne from Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

They are probably the most toxic couple on this list. On their own, they can both be horrible people, together they’re a disaster. 

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Joe and Beck from You by Caroline Kepnes

These two are both sociopaths as far as I’m concerned. The stalking, the lying, the manipulation, the cage…

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Chloe and Oliver from Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas

Chloe was a seemingly nice girl until Oliver came to town. He leads her down a dark path and they ruin lives (even their own).

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UNBEARABLE RELATIONSHIPS

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Cole and Ali from The White Rabbit Chronicles by Gena Showalter

I started out shipping these two, but by the third book their romantic interludes were so cringe-worthy to me that I couldn’t even finish the book. There was so much back and forth and will-they-won’t-they and when they finally got together it was a constant how-far-will-we-go-and-when rhetoric. I found it boring and annoying.

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Hayley and Bryce from Blackmail Boyfriend by Chris Cannon

This could also probably go under the toxic category since Hayley is kind of a psycho. Hayley and Bryce agree to a public fake relationship, but she believes that still means he should do boyfriendy things when no one else is around. She’s insufferable, but along the way Bryce begins to fall for her and this book just made me want to through my Nook at a wall.

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Sang and ALL the Boys from the Ghost Bird series by C.L. Stone

Sang is young and naïve and unbearably annoying and she is befriended by a group of seven guys, all of whom have a thing for her. All of whom, at one point early on in the series, agree to share her, which is when I had to stop reading this series, even though it was an oddly addicting read.

This list could go on and on, but I decided to stop at three each. What are some fictional relationships that you find toxic or unbearable?

HAPPY VALENTIE’S DAY / SINGLES AWARENESS DAY / THE WALKING DEAD IS BACK!

Reviewing the Unreviewed: December 2015

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I read a lot of books that I don’t end up reviewing for whatever reason. Some because I wasn’t impressed. Some because I didn’t have the time. Some I just wasn’t feeling it on whatever particular day I finished. I thought I’d start doing a post once a month  with just the couple thoughts I shared on Good Reads

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Front Row by Rebekah N. Bryan. Read December 13-14. 2 Stars.

This book is basically one of those Lifetime Cautionary Tales movies, except the characters never realize how crazy they all are. I found them unrelatable and thought their behavior was super concerning, but for some reason I just couldn’t stop reading it. It was a quick, easy read and while not my usual kind of book, I am interested to see what the next installment in the series is like, which focuses on a boy band cruise.

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You (You #1) by Caroline Kepnes. Read December 19-20. 4 Stars.

I don’t even know what to say about this book. It was so messed up. It was uncomfortable to read at times. The characters are just awful, awful people. But…I couldn’t put it down. It’s written in second person and the “You” Joe is talking to is Beck, the girl he loves/stalks/obsesses over. It was a unique style and it really worked for this kind of story. I was so in Joe’s head that I was actually rooting for him and found myself thinking things like, “You need to lock the cage, idiot!” Yeah. You know the writing is good when you’re looking out for the sociopath.

However, it was a little too slow paced at times. It was a lot of repetition and it honestly wasn’t as creepy as I thought it would be. If we were figuring things out with Beck there would have been really creepy reveals, but seeing everything from Joe’s POV his crazy behavior almost makes sense. Well, it doesn’t make sense. But we see how it makes sense to Joe. And we sympathize with him. And even though it was almost boring for a bit, it’s still why I have to give this book 4 stars.

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The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian. Read December 22-26. 2 Stars.

This book made me really angry, but probably not in the way it was supposed to. Full review to come closer to release date.

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Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling. Read December 26-27. 3 Stars.

This wasn’t as funny as I expected it to be, but it did get several chuckles out of me and I still wouldn’t mind being best friends with Mindy Kaling.     

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BACK ON THE TBR

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These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly. I really wanted to read this, but couldn’t get into it and then it expired from the library. I’ll try it again, though.

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DNF

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Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. DNF at 55%

When this book hit NetGalley I followed the hype and requested a copy. I didn’t know much about it, but I liked the cover. I actually got granted access to a copy and was excited to read it. However, after much effort, I just couldn’t finish it. I did not like the characters, the pace was super slow, the plot was a little confusing. At halfway through a book I expect to feel connected to the characters and invested in what happens to them, but I just didn’t care.

The one thing I did like was Nicholas, who was likable and intriguing, but he was not enough to save the book.

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The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield.

This is a book I really wanted to like, but just could not connect with the characters. While Fifield does write well-developed characters, I found them so unlikable and a little unprobable that I just couldn’t make myself read any more. I got about 25% and then skimmed the ending.

The one other thing I wanted to mention was that the letter from both the author and the editor at the beginning of the book really turned me off. The fact that I needed a letter explaining the book and then another letter about how great the book is before I even started made me think that the story wouldn’t be able to stand on it’s own. That initial distrust may have contributed to my lack of connection and interest with the story once I started it.