The Never List by Koethi Zan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Escape is just the beginning
The Never List is a psychological thriller. When Sarah and Jennifer were in a car accident that resulted in the fatality of Jennifer's mother, and more than four months of hospitalization for the best friends, they created a list--The Never List. Filled with statistics that only an insurance statistician could love, the girls found a way to minimize their fears of victimization and helplessness. Unfortunately, in their first year away to school, the worst happens. The best friends are captured and held in a cellar by a sadist.
The Never List is told by Sarah, who tells us that she's escaped. Little by little we are told what occurred in the cellar, and who their captor was. Though it's been 10 years, for Sarah, it might as well have been yesterday.
Throughout the reading, I anxiously bit my nail, finally putting the book aside for hours at a time, such is the power of her story and the terror that she experienced. Fortunately, I sucked up my courage, otherwise I'd have missed an compelling story.
The Never List takes Sarah back to where it all began, and as one reads, they can't help be feel the tremendous fear the protagonist faces in her effort to redeem herself--for what, we aren't sure, but Sarah's guilt is just as prevalent as her fear. It is this theme of redemption that propels the plot along, because their captor has just gotten married. Sarah can't stand idly by while another woman walks into a fatal trap, especially if he is paroled.
The psychology at play in this novel is intensely frightening, so much so that there's little trust in any character. Paranoia runs high. Anyone could betray Sarah at any given time. Her phobias, which seem debilitating at first, start to seem like excellent choices.
If it were not for the deceleration of impending doom by what can only be described as easy outs, this book would be a four or five star thriller. However, it became apparent, at least to me, (view spoiler)[ that the author was not willing to hurt her protagonist. (hide spoiler)] When the theme began to overwhelm the action during the climax, the physical threats become less fear laden--less tangible.
The Never List is a fast paced thriller that allows readers to view the aftermaths created by the captivity of humans. Safe is only a word. Escape is just the beginning.
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