Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Never List by Koethi Zan

The Never List
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 thriller with lots of edge, this was a fun read that seems to fly by.

Thrillers like this one are so difficult to write. The author has to really have a hold of the pacing and the story he or she wants to tell, otherwise the plot screeches to a stop. This is one of the more successful ones I’ve read this year, so kudos to the author. The story grabs our attention from the very beginning, from the first sentence, and it holds it almost all the way through. There are some patches here and there in the middle, in particular one section in which the main character goes into a BDSM club that drags just a bit (what a strange sentence to type, by the way) but for the most part the action stays at edge-of-your-seat-level.

The protagonist, Sarah, is an interesting one. We slowly start learning about her as the pages pass although we do get the sense she is still hiding something. I would have liked her to have been more of an unreliable narrator; that, I think, would have taken this book to a whole other level. As she is, we do know she is keeping stuff from us, but it’s not enough to earn her the “unreliable narrator” title.

The story is obviously well thought out, with lots of twists and turns that I won’t reveal. This is a great addition to the genre.

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