Koethi Zan’s ‘The Never List’

The Never ListBest friends Sarah and Jennifer list by the ‘Never List’ – a set of rules which dominate their lives. Above all, never take risks. But despite all their planning, the worst happens, and the girls are thrown into the middle of their worst nightmare.

Ten years later, Sarah is trying to move on with her life. But she’s still tormented by the past and trapped in a prison of her own making, and it seems that her persecutor hasn’t forgotten her. To give herself any chance of having a normal future, Sarah must face up to her demons. But is she putting herself back in harm’s way? And will what she is about to discover destroy her forever?

Koethi Zan’s The Never List was quite readable, but to me, it didn’t feel like it really offered anything new to the genre. The characters are described as going through some intense emotions, but they never really came alive to me and fell a little flat. The story trundles along well and picks up pace with some well-placed action scenes towards the end, but the twists were disappointingly predictable.

The author plays on society’s fears of hidden sociopaths disguised in plain sight. The villain of the piece is a professor, using the world of academia and the respectability that it brings to hide his true, darker self. To me, it felt a touch exploitative, drawing on our fascination with the macabre and the suffering of real women who really have been placed in this type of situation.

It uses the same kind of subject matter as Emma Donoghue’s Room, even if the actual abuse suffered varies in nature, but the latter manages at least to shake the genre up a bit and offers a new perspective.

Less than two months after reading, I found that I had to look up the names of the main characters again so that I could write this review. All in all, it was a fairly average and forgettable read. If you’re just looking for a something quick and not too taxing, it might be good for a beach read, but otherwise I’d steer clear! There are much better thrillers out there that are much more worthy of the time and effort!


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