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3.9 out of 5 stars213
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 9 March 2014
Koethi Zan has the potential to write decent modern mysteries, but it's a shame she came out of the woodwork with this, which, despite the book's huge promotional campaign, isn't all that great.

The story is ham-fisted at times, with obvious twists and some unbelievable coincidences. The characters seem to jump in and out of certain traits that in earlier segments define them, making for an uneven experience overall. The conclusion pretty much sucks, as it opens the door for a sequel (please, Zan, resist the temptation), and by the time you've worked your way through, it really seems like a missed opportunity, as the opening is relatively strong.

Like "The Silent Wife", which was well-written but lacked an actual story, "The Never List" deceives you with an interesting event that is well-described (though literally given to you in the opening chapters, rather than revealed through introspection), but then becomes plain, dull, and at times, downright silly. Not something you'll be recommending to your friends, unless they want a brainless beach read. Which reminds me: am I the only one tired of the press comparing everything to "Gone Girl?" I mean, come on. "Gone Girl" wasn't so great itself. Guess I'll be waiting a while before the next big bestseller storms out of the gate with a quote telling me it's the next "Every Dead Thing"...
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on 23 September 2014
Best friends Sarah and Jennifer list by the ‘Never List’ - a set of rules which dominate their lives. Above all, never take risks. But despite all their planning, the worst happens, and the girls are thrown into the middle of their worst nightmare.

Ten years later, Sarah is trying to move on with her life. But she’s still tormented by the past and trapped in a prison of her own making, and it seems that her persecutor hasn’t forgotten her. To give herself any chance of having a normal future, Sarah must face up to her demons. But is she putting herself back in harm’s way? And will what she is about to discover destroy her forever?

Koethi Zan’s The Never List was quite readable, but to me, it didn’t feel like it really offered anything new to the genre. The characters are described as going through some intense emotions, but they never really came alive to me and fell a little flat. The story trundles along well and picks up pace with some well-placed action scenes towards the end, but the twists were disappointingly predictable.

The author plays on society’s fears of hidden sociopaths disguised in plain sight.The villain of the piece is a professor, using the world of academia and the respectability that it brings to hide his true, darker self. To me, it felt a touch exploitative, drawing on our fascination with the macabre and the suffering of real women who really have been placed in this type of situation.

It uses the same kind of subject matter as Emma Donoghue’s Room, even if the actual abuse suffered varies in nature, but the latter manages at least to shake the genre up a bit and offers a new perspective.

Less than two months after reading, I found that I had to look up the names of the main characters again so that I could write this review. All in all, it was a fairly average and forgettable read. If you’re just looking for a something quick and not too taxing, it might be good for a beach read, but otherwise I’d steer clear! There are much better thrillers out there that are much more worthy of the time and effort!
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on 3 February 2014
I thought this started well and then deteriorated rapidly.

If we had spent more time in the cellar I would have felt more empathy with the characters but we seemed to hardly touch upon these scenes that had such an effect on the women. And I do hate it when an author goes to such pains to set up a character's psychological issues as a result of trauma and within a few chapters they've shaken all of this off because the plot demands it. It's lazy writing. The character of Nora in Dean Koontz's Watchers is an ideal example of a believable way in which a character is gradually and realistically drawn out from the shackles of their own demons.

Within about 30 pages I thought, 'I bet this character...', then I reasoned, no, it can't be that obvious. 250 pages later, yep, exactly what I guessed, what a disappointing, predictable and hackneyed resolution.

Not recommended.
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on 14 August 2013
I love suspense thrillers. I hated this. The characters were not developed sufficiently which meant that I didn't care about them enough to feel tense or worried for them as they embarked down more and more ludicrous and unbelievable plot lines. The story felt like a mashing together of lots of other stories - cults, s+m, kidnapping, torture, campus drama etc and so was disjointed and no plot arc was really explored enough for me. I finished this feeling cheated and bored. The main character who hasn't left her apartment in years finds the strength to creep around abandoned barns in the pitch black or to chase down creepy religious nut jobs? The 'massive twist' that was as obvious as a brick to the forehead was also a let down.
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on 3 September 2013
I would have finished this book in one sitting if I didn't have kids disturbing me! It's a page turner.Nice twist at the end but not completely unexpected. Def worth a read.
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on 11 September 2014
What a dreadful book, average score of 1 out of 10 from our book club !! Lots of silly stories that did not make sense, totally unbelievable characters whom you didn't care about anyway. Don't waste your time...................
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 11 September 2013
4.5 stars.

A cleverly constructed story. Alternating chapters between the years when Sarah and three other girls are kidnapped and held captive in a cellar with the time ten years after, when their captor is about to be up for parole. This way you can 'enjoy' (though that's not the word!) the dark and frightening cellar scenes knowing that they do escape.

But that's not to say the danger is over...

Without delving further into the plot after they escape, Sarah and Jennifer are safety-conscious students, aware of danger and threat but caught anyway (making a silly mistake). Two other girls are also trapped by a very clever and dangerous man. Years later, none have truly recovered, but all must relive their painful memories to keep him locked up and to solve the puzzle of how and why it all happened.

Very tense, very scary, with just enough detail of the cellar years to disgust without being graphic. A shocking story, once the truths come out. Everyone, it appears, has secrets. And a very assured and competent debut. I raced through it in a couple of days, keen to unravel the whole story.
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on 29 November 2014
In theory, the concept is interesting, but after getting about half way through, nothing of interest had happened, there was no thrill or pace to be found, and more than once the main character completely went against the characterisation she had been given in the extreme. It's just painfully boring, so I gave up.
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on 8 November 2014
This book begins quite well and is an interesting premise. However, although my favourite books are edgy thrillers, I felt in some respects this book has a nasty voyeuristic feel to it and I never enjoy references to torture. If all these women were supposed to have been tortured over many years, starved and put on a rack on a fairly regular basis, their physical scars did not seem to be in evidence. The ending was very rushed with everyone trying to unburden themselves within a few pages. I too got the impression there was a sequel waiting to come out of this book. I for one will not be buying it.
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on 3 September 2013
This sounded like the sort of thing I would love. It started off by flipping between the present - with Sarah emerging from her psychological prison - to the past where she is in the cellar. Quite creepy and effective. I found it a little odd that she would go so very quickly from being a panic-ridden agoraphobic to getting on planes and staying in hotels, but felt that maybe the idea of Derber getting out of prison was sufficient to make her confront her demons. So far, so intriguing.

But then very soon, it started to get silly, with too many inconsistencies and ridiculous coincidences in the plot. The dialogue was beyond wooden, the characters either implausible or like villains right out of a panto. (I kept thinking of the 1960s version of Batman, all kapow and bam and stilted dialogue.) There were too many dead ends, pointless detours, so many `huh?' moments. I didn't understand why there was so very little about Sarah's time in the cellar either. I could go on forever saying why this was silly.

So, a fabulous idea but I can't for the life of me see why this is creating a buzz. It is so much less than the sum of its parts. I really wanted to like it but I simply couldn't. It lost its way almost immediately and never recovered. In fact the more it went on, the less it worked. It suffered from a terrible, fatal lack of focus - whatever tension and chill there had been in the beginning dissipated and vanished leaving a rather silly story with implausible characters and the flabbiest denouement I've seen in a while: too neat, too simple, too silly. Despite being really rather short I felt as if I'd been reading it for days when I finished, and was left feeling an odd blend of mugged, perplexed and disappointed.
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