Mary Kubica’s ‘When the Lights Go Out’ Is A Definite Snooze [REVIEW]


Ready to rebuild her life, a young woman is suddenly forced to confront the truth about her past in Mary Kubica’s When the Lights Go Out. (Photo courtesy BookClubbish, YouTube)

Enrolling in college usually marks the beginning of a new chapter in one’s life. But for a young woman who put everything on hold in order to care for her ailing mother, it is about to make life much more complicated than she ever dreamed possible after a shocking revelation turns her entire world on its ear. Is she prepared to discover the truth about her past? Find out in Mary Kubica’s new thriller, When the Lights Go Out. 


Park Row Books

When her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Jessie Sloane drops everything to tend to her mom. She doesn’t realize, however, that doing so would take up years of her life.

When her mom dies, she is liberated to pursue her own dreams. So she rents an apartment and applies for college. But when the college runs her social security number, it sends up a red flag. Jessie isn’t the woman she always thought she was. The number she’s always used belongs to someone who is dead. What’s more, she soon discovers that she doesn’t even have a birth certificate!

Caught at the epicenter of some bizarre mystery, Jessie is determined to get to the truth. But doing so isn’t easy, especially when she can’t sleep. Now her judgment is impaired, her thoughts are fuzzy with exhaustion, and she has trouble distinguishing between what is real and what isn’t. The longer she goes without sleep, the worse the suspicions become and suddenly she’s left wondering if she will make it through this mystery with her sanity… and her life… intact.

As I finished reading the last sentence of Mary Kubica’s When the Lights Go Out, I was left with a sense of utter disappointment. I wanted to like this story. It had promise. But the simply fact is that I just spent several hours reading a novel in which I felt completely apathetic toward the main character, Jessica. This isn’t to say that Kubica isn’t a good writer. After all, she does describe Jessica’s inner turmoil in vivid, realistic terms. But I just never became emotionally vested in Jessica’s life after the passing of her mother.

Also, I wanted to suspend disbelief and invest myself in the mystery that begins with Jessica’s college application and missing birth certificate. Yet I couldn’t, because the storyline just fell flat of my expectations for a suspenseful page turner. I never found myself white knuckling the pages or felt my heartbeat increase. Nor did I find myself waiting with bated breath as I followed Jessica down yet another rabbit hole. Rather, I found myself yawning and wishing for the story to be over.

Sure, a week’s worth of sleepless nights can cause hallucinations and ultimately death, but Kubica’s novel never sold me on this scenario. Instead, When the Lights Go Out may be the very antidote to insomnia, because reading it made me want to turn off the lights and saw logs for a week. My advice to you, if you want a truly taut thrill ride of suspense, look to the likes of Lisa Jackson, Lisa Gardner, or even Preston & Child. Their stories will make you want to keep the lights on, even after the last page is turned.

Mary Kubica

Mary Kubica
(Photo by Sarah Jastre)


Mary Kubica is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including the blockbuster The Good Girl, which has sold over a million copies.

She holds a bachelor of arts degree in history and American literature from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children. Visit Mary’s home on the Web at, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.

By Mary Kubica
320 pgs. Park Row Books. $26.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase When the Lights Go Out at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

When the Lights Go Out is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Heather Fink
Heather Fink is a writer, bibliophile and award-winning librarian who loves to introduce the next generation of readers to the wonderful world of books. She currently resides in Texas.

2 Responses to Mary Kubica’s ‘When the Lights Go Out’ Is A Definite Snooze [REVIEW]

  1. Thanks for your honest review for the tour.

  2. Pingback: Mary Kubica, author of WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT, on tour August/September | TLC Book Tours

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