I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Never List by Kotethi Zan
Published: 2013 by Pamela Dorman
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Source: the publisher
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I had the pleasure of meeting Koethi Zan at a book signing several weeks ago at Politics & Prose, an independent bookstore in DC. The event was wonderful, and it was fascinating to learn more about the author’s vision for The Never List, which drew inspiration from a number of real life cases.
The Never List is the story of two friends, Sarah and Jennifer, were kidnapped as college students and held hostage in a sadistic man’s basement. Sarah was rescued, but it was too late for Jennifer. Ten years later, their kidnapper is up for parole, and Sarah engages on a mission to come to terms with the past and to find Jennifer’s body, keeping Jack behind bars.
I was intrigued by the author’s treatment of the abuse that the girls suffered. The experiences of the kidnapped girls was usually alluded to rather than explicitly detailed. There is some bare bones description of events central to the plot, but the bulk of the horrors that they faces is left up to the readers’ imaginations. This allows the focus to remain on Sarah’s healing and her mission to discover Jack’s secrets.
One dynamic that was explored in great depth was the relationships between the kidnapped victims. Even though they spent years in a room together, they parted ways and didn’t speak to each other after their rescue. Part of Jack’s manipulation involved psychologically controlling them and pitting them against each other. In the end, only the chance that Jack might be released was a strong enough motivation to allow them to reconnect and learn to trust each other.
While the subject matter is violent and traumatic, the story is ultimately a tale of empowerment and healing. Sarah stops functioning as a victim and instead takes the role of the detective. She finally has a chance to fight back and to regain control of her life.
The Never List is much darker than what I usually read. Generally, I don’t read depressing fiction, because real life is depressing enough. This book in particular calls to mind the Cleveland kidnappings that have been in the news so much recently. Indeed, at the book signing, the author mentioned that her story was inspired by the many recorded real life kidnapping cases. As dark as the book was, I read it in one sitting. The Never List is gripping, suspenseful, and even though it addresses the evil in the world, it provides a message of hope and of the resilience of the human spirit. I’d highly recommend it.
And now, for the giveaway. The giveaway is limited to U.S. addresses (P.O. boxes don’t count) and ends on 8/29. To enter, go to the Rafflecopter Linky on my blog’s Facebook page.