Wednesday, September 5, 2018

When the Lights Go Out

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica
Park Row Books; 9/4/18
eBook review copy; 336 pages
ISBN-13: 9780778330783

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica is a so-so novel of psychological suspense.

Jessie Sloane's mother, Eden, dies from cancer and now she must try to continue on with her life after spending her teen years, since she was 15, caring for her mom. When the college she has applied to informs her that her social security number belongs to a 3-year-old girl who died 17 years ago, she needs to find her social security card, but can't. Jessie can't even find her birth certificate and she doesn't have any other identification, like a driver's license. Eden never told her the name of her father, so Jessie is running out of options. She is also struggling with insomnia, which is causing hallucinations and paranoia.

Between Jessie's narrative are flashbacks from Eden's past, beginning in 1996. Eden and her husband were newlyweds in 1996 and wanted to start a family. Soon her inability to conceive became an obsession for Eden and led to more expensive medical intervention to assist them. Her obsession becomes increasingly unhealthy and threatens her marriage.

The quality of the writing is great, but the actual plot, not so much. I struggled to get through this novel and kept talking back to the plot/action because it didn't make sense. The ending, which was likely supposed to explain all the things I was upset with in the novel only resulted in pure disgust and reduced my rating to 2 stars. (It is 2 stars because Kubica gets 1 for her writing ability. Great writer; bad plot device.) Saying anything about the extremely disappointing "twist" at the end will ruin the novel for others, but I feel like it was a lazy ending. When the ending technique used here has been tried in other circumstances, it is consistently a hit or miss for people. This was a total miss for me.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Park Row Books.

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