When The Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica
As you know, last week I had a chance to meet the lovely Mary Kubica at an author event hosted by Harper Collins Canada. This week, I finally finished her latest book, When The Lights Go Out.
First things first, a huge thank you to Park Row books for the advanced copy of this book - all opinions are my own, as always.
Before I started this one I had begun to see some other reviews, and every single one was either a hard “I loved it”, or a hard “I hated the end”. It was completely polarizing, and that intrigued me even more. I love me a book that causes people to have strong opinions, partly because I think its a sign of a good story, and partly because I always seem to be in the minority on liking things other people hate. I am also a long time Mary Kubica fan, and so I refused to seek out any spoilers or in depth reviews and instead jumped in (mostly) blind.
And I loved it.
This will be an unpopular opinion among some of by favorite bookish friends, but honestly I think this book is exceptionally well done. It is fast paced, it’s compelling, it’s completely unique and it is TENSE. I could barely stand to put this down between reading sessions, as I was dying to find out what had happened.
Mary does an amazing job moving this story back and forth between Jessie Sloan's present, and her mother, Eden's past. In the story, Eden has just passed away, and Jessie is struggling tremendously - exacerbated by the fact that the college she has applied to has informed her that her social security number has raised a red flag, that she has no other family to turn to for answers, and that she is suffering from a severe bout of insomnia, leaving her uncertain of what she really knows. Eden's story is equally compelling as she moves through the early days of her marriage and her desperate struggle to have a baby - and every failure as she confronts her infertility.
Both of these characters are wildly complex, frustrating, relatable and honest. You want to simultaneously reach out to hug them or throttle them, depending on the chapter. The way Mary wove together the two narratives builds on the tension of the story, until you are just as desperate as Jessie is for the truth.
I also loved the aspect of Jessie’s insomnia, which became almost a character in itself - as she continued to fall deeper into her spiral and the visual and auditory hallucinations intensified, it was so absorbing to try to figure out what was real and what was not right along with her. I won’t lie, it frustrated the bejeezus out of me at times, but it also had me captivated, so clearly, a win.
And the end is one I never, ever saw coming. Which is ALL I will say because a reader deserves to experience this one all on their own, without spoiler.
I will say that I continue to LOVE Mary's work - I love that a writer can still take me on a ride, surprise me and make me gasp out loud. I would absolutely recommend this one for mystery lovers!!