When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica
Park Row Books; 9/4/18
eBook review copy; 336 pages
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.
My review copy was courtesy of Park Row Books.