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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.
10 years later, at 31, 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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By W Perry Hall on 02-04-14
Excellent Shorter Suspense Novel
This relatively short debut novel keeps up a steady suspenseful pace with a well-considered plot, dramatizing wickedly the psyche of female survivors of long-term degrading captivity by a psychopathic rapist. I thought the ramifications of the abuse on the friendship between 2 of the captives was played out well with an unexpected twist.
The novel shows the great promise of bigger and better stories from a new whiz kid on the crime novel block, Koethi Zan. I will definitely look forward to the publication of her next book.
The narrator superbly portrayed the anxiety of long-term rape survivors and enhanced the experience of the novel.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
By Kali on 10-31-13
Eerie similarities to Cleveland kidnappings...
The Never List chronicles the aftermath of heroine Sarah’s traumatic kidnapping, in which she and her best friend were chained in a basement and tortured with two other girls. It is a quick read and it is hard not to fall for Sarah’s frank and wry narrative voice.
Clearly, this is a book only for the bravest of readers. I was a bit hesitant about the subject matter, as I enjoy a great twisted tale of suspense but dislike the sort of gruesome and gory torture porn that horror films like Hostel have made popular. The Never List is tastefully done for such dark subject matter, in the way that I think the best tales of suspense often are. Although we get flashbacks of what Sarah and the other girls suffered through, the focus of the book is not on human suffering.
Zan has done a great job of creating a gang of likable female sleuths who have overcome an awful trauma together. When the three kidnapping victims who escaped the basement are told their captor will be eligible for parole, they reunite to investigate loose ends of their case. The male FBI agent assigned to their case is comically absent, a benevolent force always a phone call away but a bit too slow. The Never List is the girl-power thriller that The Shining Girls wanted to be; these women are honest, flawed, strong, taking control of their past and their future.
I heard about this book because of its odd timing – right around the time of its release (July 2013) we all watched in horror as women were rescued from Ariel Castro’s home in Cleveland. The similarities between the real life news story and the events in the work of fiction are bizarrely similar–three women kept chained in a house by a sadistic man. There is an interview on mybookishways.com about Zan’s almost surreal reaction to watching the news in Cleveland unfold. As she says, “I’d written a book based on my worst nightmare, and there it was on the screen—real.” It was such an eerie coincidence.
You will find yourself cheering for Sarah as she overcomes fears, deals with her past, and becomes a stronger person. This is the best sort of audiobook to listen to, as it kept me looking for chores around the house I could do while I kept listening. My house is swept, my laundry is done, and I'm all finished with The Never List.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful