Monday, 28 April 2014

Book Review | The Never List by Koethi Zan

It should never have happened to them. Two girls who were so sure that nothing bad could ever touch them and all because of The Never List; the document which lists everything dangerous to never do. Never get into a car with strangers being the number one rule. And yet both friends end up chained in a basement for three years and are subject to torture, psychological mind games, and everything in-between. Eventually they escape, and yet they are all haunted by the experience. The protagonist, Sarah, makes up her mind to revisit her past in order to move on with her future.

I'm really not sure how to feel about this book. On one hand, it's well written and engaging. I foud it to be a very quick read. On the other, there are quite a few spelling and grammatical mistakes that I noticed, the plot was incredibly predictable, and I found the whole thing pretty unbelievable. I just cannot tell if I enjoyed this book or not. I'll explain thoroughly.

The main character, Sarah, has suffered from severe PTSD, agoraphobia and depression since she escaped. She doesn't go out at all; works from home, orders food and groceries in, doesn't entertain anyone besides her psychiatrist. And yet, despite her severe mental trauma, just because she decides to go out she manages to overcome everything and even get on a plane to a different state. I think it's almost offensive to those who suffer with such severe agoraphobia who can't go outside just because they will themselves to or want to go out. Mental health doesn't work that way, and that makes this story unbelievable. Instead of relating to the character, you feel infuriated by her. It seems like the author only includes her PTSD symptoms when it's convenient to her, and the rest of the time it's barely even mentioned.

The big twist at the end was predictable. I knew what would happen before I even started reading the book, just by reading the prelude. This made the ending a bit of a let down. I was expecting something to happen, and the tension kept building and building and building, and then at the end it just sort of... fizzled out to nothing. Maybe this was because it was expected. Maybe it was because it was poorly written. Who knows.

This book, however, was a real page turner. I never knew what to expect or what was going to happen. I got through it quickly because I could barely put it down. Despite knowing the big reveal at the end, there were still some unexpected twists throughout the novel which I liked. I also liked the fact that the author never described the torture in detail. This really built the tension because your mind really is your own worst enemy. You always imagine things worse than they are, and I think this creates the "edge of your seat" tension in your mind. I think the torture was handled well and respectfully.

The novel overall was written well, and Zan really does have potential to be a fantastic writer. This was the first novel she has written and you can tell, but there is obviously great potential here for her to become a wonderful psychological thriller writer. She uses language well and to her advantage, and can manipulate scenes fantastically. Zan also has a natural talent for explaining just what her characters are thinking. Despite the solid lack of character development, you can tell that Zan plans her characters and sticks with their personalities right through to the end.

Overall, despite the obvious flaws, I did enjoy this book and think Zan has the potential to become a wonderful writer in time.

1 comment:

  1. This one really intrigued me but with similar feedback I am still on the fence. I enjoy good mental health thrillers not used as an excuse, we will see.