Title: When the Lights Go Out
Author: Mary Kubica
Publish Date: September 4, 2018 by Park Row
# of Pages: 384
Buy it*: Amazon
(From Goodreads) A woman is forced to question her own identity in this riveting and emotionally charged thriller by the blockbuster bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica
Jessie Sloane is on the path to rebuilding her life after years of caring for her ailing mother. She rents a new apartment and applies for college. But when the college informs her that her social security number has raised a red flag, Jessie discovers a shocking detail that causes her to doubt everything she’s ever known.
Finding herself suddenly at the center of a bizarre mystery, Jessie tumbles down a rabbit hole, which is only exacerbated by grief and a relentless lack of sleep. As days pass and the insomnia worsens, it plays with Jessie’s mind. Her judgment is blurred, her thoughts are hampered by fatigue. Jessie begins to see things until she can no longer tell the difference between what’s real and what she’s only imagined.
Meanwhile, twenty years earlier and two hundred and fifty miles away, another woman’s split-second decision may hold the key to Jessie’s secret past. Has Jessie’s whole life been a lie or have her delusions gotten the best of her?
Rating (1-5, 5 is exceptional)
Quality of Writing
When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica is an emotional rollercoaster of a mystery. When Jessie’s mom passes away, she slowly starts putting the pieces of her life back together. After what she believes is a clerical error on the part of her university’s financial aid department, she’s soon entangled in the mystery of finding out she is–who is Jessie Sloan? Exacerbated by days without sleep, Jessie’s mind starts playing tricks on her, which only makes her investigation more difficult.
I’ve read several books by Mary Kubica, and I always find them entertaining. When the Lights Go Out was no different! When the Lights Go Out was an entertaining book that messed with my mind as I followed Jessie down the rabbit hole. As Jessie’s sleeplessness progressed, the book took on an Alice in Wonderland quality as Jessie started imagining things that weren’t actually there. When you can’t decipher between real and imagined, things start to get weird.
This book is told using two perspectives: Jessie, and Jessie’s mom, Eden. The two perspectives covered different times periods and never overlapped, while still effectively progressing the storyline. I enjoyed the two perspectives, getting inside the heads of the two main females in the book.
I thought the overall story concept was intriguing. I liked Jessie’s insomnia and how it played into what was happening in the book. As I was reading, I struggled to determine what was real and what was hallucination. I tried to outsmart Jessie–categorizing the events as they unfolded into neat little “real” and “not real” columns. I thought the sleeplessness was a fun addition to the book. Can you imagine staying awake for days on end? I sure can’t!
The mystery in the book–Jessie’s self-discovery–was well done. It’s the age old question: who am I? Except in Jessie’s case, it’s much more complicated than that. I enjoyed the investigation Jessie underwent as she tried to trace her roots.
The ending really threw me for a loop! Once the big reveal happened, I was disappointed in myself for not figuring it out sooner! I’m ridiculously bad at predicting book endings, so maybe this was an easy one, but I was still surprised. Some people might hate the ending, but I liked it. It’s interesting how subtle suggestions can manipulate reality.
My one big gripe is that the characters in the book did not have a lot of depth. Jessie’s insomnia had more depth than Jessie herself. I tend to gravitate towards books with well-constructed character development, so this detail was a bit disappointing. Still, Jessie and Eden were both engaging and compelling despite their shallow states. Eden’s story especially sucked me in. As someone who has struggled with infertility, I could definitely relate to Eden’s story and found myself nodding along with her struggles as I read them. Sometimes wanting something can take on a life of its own.
Would I recommend this book? Yes! If you’re a fan of Mary Kubica already or are just looking for something a little different to read, check out When the Lights Go Out.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing the Kindle version of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read any books by Mary Kubica? Which is your favorite?
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