The Never List

The Never List

Book rating: 04 Hardback

By (author) Koethi Zan

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  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
  • Format: Hardback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 226mm x 30mm | 522g
  • Publication date: 16 July 2013
  • ISBN 10: 0670026514
  • ISBN 13: 9780670026517
  • Edition statement: New.
  • Sales rank: 1,591,637

Product description

An international bestseller from the most relentless, deeply disturbing thriller writer since Jeffery Deaver and Gillian Flynn For years, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept what they called the "Never List" a list of actions to be avoided, for safety's sake, at all costs. But one night, against their best instincts, they accept a cab ride with grave, everlasting consequences. For the next three years, they are held captive with two other girls in a dungeon-like cellar by a connoisseur of sadism. Ten years later, at thirty-one, Sarah is still struggling to resume a normal life, living as a virtual recluse under a new name, unable to come to grips with the fact that Jennifer didn't make it out of that cellar. Now, her abductor is up for parole and Sarah can no longer ignore the twisted letters he sends from jail. Finally, Sarah decides to confront her phobias and the other survivors--who hold their own deep grudges against her. When she goes on a cross-country chase that takes her into the perverse world of BDSM, secret cults, and the arcane study of torture, she begins unraveling a mystery more horrifying than even she could have imagined. A shocking, blazingly fast read, Koethi Zan's debut is a must for fans of Karin Slaughter, Laura Lippman, and S.J. Watson.

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Author information

Koethi Zan was born and raised in rural Alabama, then moved to New York City after earning a J.D. from Yale Law School. She practiced entertainment law for more than fifteen years, working in film, television, and theater, most recently at MTV. She now lives in upstate New York with her husband and children.

Customer reviews

By elizabeth barbarick 25 Jul 2013 5

Four young women were kidnapped and illegally held prisoner in conditions where the were not fed properly and were tortured. One were tortured to death. Others were chained to the wall, kept underground for almost three years.

Now it's ten years later and Caroline, who now calls herself Sarah, is still struggling with being in society. She shuts herself off and keeps to her apartment, keeping it immaculate and clean. She cannot get over the girl who was tortured to death, was her best friend Jennifer, and her body is still missing to this day.

How could she get over it, they were like sisters. After Jennifer lost her family, she lived with Caroline's family, where they became paranoid enough to create a Never List. It's a list of things you should never do. Sarah implements each and every one into her current lifestyle and takes them all very seriously.

Now Sarah is determined to find the hidden meaning behind mysterious letters that come in the mail from the very man who imprisoned her.

This book has so many twists and turns, I couldn't put it down. The very plot had me extremely intrigued, and once I started reading, I never stopped. I usually love books that have unique and interesting plots that jerk you in all directions, and this one did not let me down.

The ending was my favorite, I won't spoil it for you, but all the characters are unfolded and revealed. It's a great way to end the story, I greatly appreciated the author's dialogue which was very well written. I absolutely love thrillers, and this one fits perfectly into this category. A great book to add to my absolute favorite thrillers.

www.stuffedshelves.com

By Julie Smith 23 Jul 2013 3

My Take:

"Human beings are so terrible. . . . They can bear anything." - From the film The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, director and screenwriter

(from the flyleaf of The Never List)

Book beginning:

There were four of us down there for the first thirty-two months and eleven days of our captivity. And then, very suddenly and without warning, there were three. Even though the fourth person hadn't made any noise at all in several months, the room got very quiet when she was gone. For a long time after that, we sat in silence, in the dark, wondering which of us would be next in the box.
Sarah "Caroline" and Jennifer have been best friends since elementary school. On the way home from middle school one day, a tragic accident brings them even closer than before. In the wake of the accident, they became extremely cautious and compiled a "Never List" - a sort of safety list of things both to do (in case of accident/natural disaster/kidnapping, etc.) as well as things never to do to avoid being in any of the aforementioned situations.

When they are both 18, they finally step away from the comfort of home to attend Ohio University (neighborhood, car services, dorm all researched beforehand to ensure safety). Upon returning from a party (not too late and definitely without too much to drink), riding in the back of a car from a car service they had presumed to be safe, they are kidnapped and held for three years in a dark basement along with two other girls, tortured victims of a sadistic man.

The novel begins ten years after their release, with Sarah living basically as a hermit in her NYC apartment. Food and necessities are delivered, and, since she works from home, there is basically no need for her to leave. So she doesn't. Until she is contacted by Agent McCordy, who asks her to go to the parole hearing and testify against the release of her former captor. Coupled with a recently received letter from her former abductor, this request causes Sarah to leave the safety of her "nest" in search of answers.

You see, one of the girls didn't make it out of that basement. Since a body was never found, their captor couldn't be convicted of murder. Sarah is determined to find the missing girl to ensure that their captor is never released from prison.

This novel begins with a lot of promise. The beginning chapters make you want to keep reading and reading until you find out what's going on. The back story of each girl is revealed in bits and pieces, and there are glimpses (not TOO detailed, but still rather stomach-churning) into their lives in the basement. As I read, I wondered why each of the surviving girls seemed to dislike each other so much - one would think that their shared experience, no matter how devastating, would make them feel close to each other, but that doesn't seem to be the case. They've each dealt with their ordeal in totally distinct fashions.

This IS a fast read, surprisingly so considering the subject matter. Once past the beginning chapters, however, a huge chunk of the action and, most assuredly, Sarah's investigation, becomes so implausible that it breaks belief. It also felt somewhat rushed, as though the author tried to insert too many outre' plot outtakes and questions into the narrative flow: a religious cult, S&M practitioners and their club, intrigue at a college campus, the mysteriously missing wife of their captor, the relative ease with which Sarah again enters the outside world.

There is a big twist near the end that caught me by surprise and sort of made up for the middle parts of the book :)

I do love dark fiction, but I feel that the comparison to "Gone Girl" and "Before I Go to Sleep" are a bit stretched. This title has the promise and the hook, but flagged for a while before it picked back up, while the two mentioned titles pretty much never let up and did not stretch my credulity.

I live blocks away (literally, two blocks over and two blocks down) from a house where three young women were held captive for over a decade. The timing of this book release was not intentional, but definitely made me even more interested. I think that this is a promising debut author and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next as she fine-tunes her art.

QUOTES:

The summer before we went off to Ohio University, our anxieties reached a fever pitch. We would soon be leaving my attic room, which we shared, and go into the vast unknown: a college campus. In preparation, we made the Never List and hung it on the back of our bedroom door. Jennifer, who was plagued by insomnia, would often get up in the middle of the night to add to it: never go to the campus library alone at night, never park more than six spaces from your destination, never trust a stranger with a flat tire. Never, never, never.

He got inside your mind, crawled in like a venomous snake slithering into a hole in the desert, then twisted around in there until he was fully comfortable and at home. It had been hard to resist him when physical weakness made you turn to your attacker as a savior. Harder to push him away when, after taking everything away from you, maybe forever, he doled out the only things you needed to sustain you - food, water, cleanliness, the least sign of affection.

We were waiting. Always waiting. As though we wanted something new to happen. Often wishing it would, because the boredom made you even crazier. But when something new did happen, it usually hurt, and then we ended up taking all our wishes back.

Writing: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Plot: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Characters: 3 out of 5 stars
Reading Immersion: 3 out 5 stars

BOOK RATING: 3.25 out of 5 stars

Sensitive Reader: Maybe a bit risky. Rare profanity, an F-bomb dropped here and there, and sexual and torture references that may be a bit much for the more sensitive reader.

Book Club Recommendation: I think this depends on the members. Some may be put off by the subject matter, but others may find discussion material such as "How would I react in that situation?", etc.

By Go Book Yourself 21 Jul 2013 4

An advanced readers copy was provided by the publisher in return for an honest review

Wow! When I started to get into this book, first I had to double check that it was non fiction and then I had to check that this was a début novel.

If you, like me are a fan of crime fiction then you'll probably have read a lot of books revolving around captivity. Books like "Room" by Emma Donoghue and "The Girl Next Door" by Jack Ketchum take us into the disturbing world of people who are held captive for years against their will. However we rarely get to see what happens after they escape, are freed. This is what drew me to The never List

The characters are extremely well thought out. To me its really important, when reading a book that the characters feel like they have had a past and will have a future. That they existed before the author decided to write their story. The character development is so authentic and is reminiscent of Karin Slaughters early work, Blindsighted.

The novel starts out with a bang but tends to sizzle out towards the middle. However I'm glad I stuck with it as it really heats up again towards the end. This is a risky tactic as I can see a lot of readers possibly giving up on this book which would be a real pity.

Overall this was a very immersive story which I found hard to put down. If you are a fan of crime fiction then Koethi Zan certainly deserves a place on your watch list. I look forward to seeing further works from her in the future

www.xgobookyourselfx.blogspot.com

Review quote

"As gripping as last summer's "Gone Girl"--but darker, and with an eerie timeliness--Koethi Zan's debut novel . . . is this year's edge-of-your-towel beach reach." --"Elle" "A perfect breezy thriller for a hot day at the beach." --"Entertainment Weekly" "This is one scary throat-grabber... As twisted and terrifying as any novel in years." --"Parade" "Thoroughly enjoyable nail biter." --Ralph Gardner Jr.," ""Wall Street Journal" "It is being billed as a page turner, and the author is being compared to Gillian Flynn, whose "Gone Girl" was the big book of summer 2012. I think you'll need thicker skin for this one though!" --About.com "This fast-paced, disturbing thriller boasts a chilling premise as well as a layered first-person narrative full of shocking twists and turns." --"Library Journal" "Zan's debut novel is shocking and disturbing. The intense psychological thriller combines a horrifying plot, well-developed characters, thought-provoking psychoanalysis and some great phrasing. Read it if you dare." --"RT Reviews," 4 1/2 stars "Zan's first novel is a haunting depiction of the emotional scars left on women held in captivity." --"Kirkus" "This story is a twisted tale of a courageous woman trying to make sense of a madman's mind . . . For readers looking for a psychological thriller, "The Never List" will be hard to beat." --"BookPage" "A fast-paced, don't-dare-put-the-book-down read that will leave you cringing as your darkest fears emerge from the shadows as Zan takes you to the places you never wanted to go." --"Suspense Magazine" "And thus begins a solid new series by a capable new writer." --"Mystery Scene Magazine" "This summer's most breath-stealing thriller." --Elle.com "A dark psychological thriller, it will touch every nerve you have." --Tami Hoag "A novel with powerful and poignant psychological insi