Koethi Zan’s novel, The Never List, effectively takes readers to the dark recesses of their own minds and the minds of the social deviant in a thrilling, surprising and engaging manner. Zan’s tale focuses on two very cautious friends, Sarah and Jennifer, who take very great lengths to avoid tragedy, destruction and harm. The girls, who appear as normal girls do, keep a lengthy list paired with grim statistics of a wide variety of disasters. They began keeping the list, dubbed “The Never List”, after surviving a car crash that took the life of Jennifer’s mother. Sarah and Jennifer do all that they can to ensure their own safety in the most normal of circumstances and take it to the extreme even as they head off to college together.
Even with all of their research and preparation to avoid anything terrible, they make a simple human error leaving a college party and get into a car from a car service that ends up taking the girls somewhere far from their dorm. Sarah and Jennifer berate themselves for allowing this error in judgment to happen, but the focus is removed from that idea once they awaken in a dark basement that will hold them captive for three years. There are two other girls in the basement and the lives of all are now forever linked even if they do not want them to be.
The Never List does not focus on the harrowing time that the girls spent in the basement, but rather picks up with Sarah, an almost agoraphobic, and recent developments in the case. Sarah cannot escape her past and she decides to do some investigating of her own to try to find out what really happened to Jennifer and to make sure their captor remains behind bars. The abuse in the basement comes back in flashbacks throughout the story and the way that Zan pieces together the past and the present never leaves the reader wanting for information. The shocking details and the perverse and twisted path the story takes is shocking, disturbing, unbelievable and creepily, entirely possible. As a result, the book and all that Sarah uncovers, is a quick, engaging read. Zan makes The Never List a delightfully disturbing book that thrills at every new development.
Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Pamela Dorman Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.