The Never List - Book review

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The Never List by Koethi Zan - Book Review



When I was a kid my parents told me things I should never do. Most parents did, and do. You know the kind of thing. Never talk to strangers. Never get into a stranger’s car. Never let anyone touch your private parts – yes, my dad was very keen on that one.


In “The Never List” Sandra and Jennifer are university students and they have a Never List as long as your arm, and update it almost every day. It serves them well. And then they break their rules and get into a car, albeit of someone they know and trust, and boy, how it costs them.


They end up in the basement of a remote house, chained to the wall, and worse than that, there are other girls there who have been there for quite some time.


So begins Koethi Zan’s “The Never List”, and it isn’t hard to see where the inspiration came from for this novel. There have been several high profile cases just like this across the western world over the past ten years or so. They must have struck a chord.


This book has received a huge amount of hype and publicity. Someone at Random House must really rate it, and love the author to bits, because the number of huge newspaper display ads in the most expensive newspapers here in the UK must have cost a small fortune, or more accurately, a large fortune, which no small or Indie publisher could ever hope to compete with.


In addition to that, it’s been selected (just a coincidence?) as the star read in one of the UK’s most popular book review columns, and yet when I checked today it’s standing at number 53 in the Amazon Thriller and Mystery chart. Slightly disappointing, I’d have thought.


This is Koethi Zan’s (nice name btw) first book and a strong debut it is too. It starts well and it finishes well, but somewhere in between it kind of lost me. Dare I say there might even have been a bit of padding and filler in there too, some stuff that on another day might have finished up on the cutting room floor, though maybe the publisher didn’t agree with that and didn’t want the page count to drop below 300.


Of course, Ms Zan, a lawyer by trade, now faces the old conundrum of producing a blockbusting follow-up – difficult second album syndrome, if you will, or maybe that is already in the can too, and perhaps that is the real reason why Random House are pushing this book and this writer for all they are worth. I wish them, and her, well.


So, to sum up,


Did the book start well? Yes, it did, as I have said before.

Is the book well written? Yes, it is, pretty much.

Is the book memorable? Yes, I think it is. I certainly won’t forget it in a hurry.

Did I enjoy reading the book? No, not really, and there’s the rub.


I just can’t help feeling the book could have been better, as if this was something of a lost opportunity here. But don’t let that put you off. There are hundreds of reviewers out there who loved the book to bits, though maybe there was just a touch of hype about some of the over-the-top reviews, or maybe I am just getting cynical in my old age.


One thing is for sure, I will be on the lookout for Ms Zan’s follow-up, as I suspect will many others, and maybe then we will get to see just how good a writer Koethi Zan really is.


Looking at her website I note that she says she grew up listening to the music of the permanently miserable Morrissey. Well, she wasn’t alone in that, and I wondered if in some way that was supposed to have influenced the writer and her writings, Girlfriend in a Coma, and all that kind of stuff. Funnier things have happened!


And dare I say the local police were not the brightest buttons in the box either. If girls kept going missing, why didn’t they get on to the case in a big way much sooner? Just a thought.


So, how’s your own Never List doing? I am going to update mine right now. Never trust anyone… especially book reviewers!


Thanks for reading,

Have fun.

David C.



*** I was supplied a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest book review. ***

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