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The Never List by Koethi Zan

Best friends Sarah and Jennifer are not typical victims. They have the Never List, a book filled with dangerous actions to avoid – never get into a car with strangers, for example. But plans don’t always work out, and one night the girls make a mistake that will alter their lives forever. Drugged, kidnapped, and trapped in a cellar with two other girls, it quickly becomes clear that even if they can escape, not everyone will get out alive…

The Never List is a debut novel, and, unfortunately, suffers from this, as despite its promising beginning, the story’s full potential is never quite reached. The horror is kept just enough out of sight – more implied than blatant – to make parts genuinely frightening, but something about the writing tones down the terror, and the result is tamer reading than would be expected from the content. The awkward first-person narration detracts from the overall atmosphere, and I found myself underwhelmed where I should have been terrified.

For all its stylistic faults, The Never List does have a very interesting plot. Set mostly in the present with flashbacks filling in some of Sarah’s ordeal in the cellar, it becomes quickly clear that the events of ten years ago is only the beginning of a twisted conspiracy, with the outcome far less predictable than expected. Though I will disagree with comparisons of the author to Gillian Flynn, Koethi Zan has the potential to be a very interesting mystery writer, and is worth watching in the future.

TITLE: The Never List

AUTHOR(S): Koethi Zan

PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House

RRP: $29.99


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