The Never List
by Koethi Zan
Read: Aug.13-17, 2013
Challenge: No challenge
Yearly count: 36
Blurb: For years, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept what they called the Never List: a list of actions to be avoided, for safety’s sake, at all costs. But one night, against their best instincts, they accept a cab ride with grave, everlasting consequences. For the next three years, they are held captive with two other girls in a dungeon-like cellar by a connoisseur of sadism.
Ten years later, at thirty-one, Sarah is still struggling to resume a normal life, unable to come to grips with the fact that Jennifer didn’t make it out of that cellar. Now, her abductor is up for parole and Sarah can no longer ignore the twisted letters he sends from jail.
Finally, Sarah decides to confront her phobias – and the other survivors, who hold their own deep grudges against her. When she goes on a cross-country chase that takes her into the perverse world of BDSM, secret cults, and the arcane study of torture, Sarah begins unraveling a mystery more horrifying than even she could have imagined.
Review: When I first saw this book mentioned somewhere (darn it, why can I never remember to jot that down?!), I was immediately intrigued. You can imagine my delight when I saw that my library had two copies on order and that there were only two people on the waiting list!
When I began reading it, I was immediately hooked. I took to Sarah’s character right away. I couldn’t help but pity her and Jennifer after surviving that horrific car crash that claimed the life of Jennifer’s mother. You really couldn’t blame them for starting the “Never List.” They took every precaution … even going so far as to hiring a car service while they were in college so that they would never have to get into a cab with a strange driver. Unfortunately, one night they did indeed let their guard down. And that was the night they were abducted.
I must state that this book coming out so close to the time of those women in Ohio being rescued from that man’s house … just, wow. Just the parallels between the two stories, especially since Sarah and Jennifer were at Ohio State! Very strange, indeed.
I have to give big props to the author, though. This book could have been extremely gruesome based on the abduction and the characters’ time in that cellar. Somehow, Ms. Zan managed to keep the descriptions of their time in the cellar to a minimum, and when it was mentioned, it was done tastefully in my opinion. I know that sounds hard to believe, but it really is how I felt about it. And the language is actually rather clean, with just a few F-bombs scattered throughout. Nothing gratuitous, in my opinion.
I do have one slight issue with this book, though. Sarah’s character bothered me a little bit. First of all, I want to know how you can have someone so afraid of just going outside, manage to leave her apartment, fly across the country, drive at night and investigate something that has haunted her for years? It seemed very much at odds with everything I as a reader knew about Sarah. I mean, she wouldn’t even shake the hand of the FBI agent in charge of her case! How was she able to overcome all of that and go on that journey? It just didn’t really seem plausible that she would be able to cope with so much so quickly.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I felt like it was a roller-coaster, thrill-a-minute ride from page one. I prefer to keep my comments here relatively clean, but I can’t help but tell you that when I finished this book, the first thing that came to my mind was “what a total mind-f*ck.” It’s the best psychological thriller I’ve read in some time.