Saturday, March 3, 2018

Providence by Caroline Kepnes

My reactions while reading this book can basically be summed up in a single word: Okay! Okay. Okay? Okay...

Spoiler alert: this book was not okay.

Dear people who read this book and gave it five stars - what the hell? Did you get a different book than I did? What is this so-called brilliant homage that you read, because I got a really lame story about this boy in the friend-zone who ends up obsessed with this manic pixie dream girl stereotype who's in love with the bad boy AND a story about this old man whose name is LITERALLY "Eggs" and his relationship with his passive aggressive wife as he struggles to rectify his cringe-worthy resentment towards his severely disabled son and utter denial of his own health problems.

Oh, and there's some supernatural stuff thrown in there and the book tries to pretend it's so meta but it's completely half-assed. Basically, this is a "supernatural" story the way McDonald's new Szechuan sauce is Chinese food.

Also, let me assure you that I did not hate this book because it was not another YOU. I get that authors don't want to write the same story over and over again and I don't just respect that, I love that. Sometimes it pays off. This didn't. This was a major backslide. If I didn't know better, I would have thought that this was Kepnes's debut effort, and not YOU, because it seems so much more undeveloped and unpolished by comparison.

Part of the reason that I loved YOU so much was the smart writing, the cutting insights on society, the smart pop culture references, and the chilling way that she made reality itself seem just as horrifying as the sociopathic main character (in fact, I may have deactivated some of my own social media accounts after reading that book). This book plodded. It didn't really have much of a plot. The characters were about what you'd expect in one of those airport bookstore-type novels aimed at middle-aged women written by someone who knows nothing about women. And the pop culture references were painful. I think there were references to the movie, Big Eyes, and Colleen Hoover? One of those references is already dated and the CH reference just felt like a "Heyyyyy, buddy!"

I'm really disappointed by this book. I don't want to say anything else because I don't want to spoil too much, but yeah, if you're expecting this to be on par with YOU, just save yourself the trouble right now and lower your expectations by about 200%.

P.S. It's not just me. I buddy-read this with my friend Heather, and I just checked out her review, and it looks like we were disappointed for roughly the same reasons. I feel validated.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!

1.5 out of 5 stars 

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