The Never List – Koethi Zan

I first read The Never List on NetGalley a few years ago. I enjoyed it immensely, and just recently got a hard copy to reread!

Sarah and Jennifer are the epitome of careful. After Jennifer’s mother dies in a car accident, the girls begin listing and cataloging all the bad things that could potentially happen to them, from natural disasters to cancer to abduction, rape, and murder. Out of these, they form The Never List: never get in the car with a stranger, never walk alone at night, never be unaware of your surroundings.

But one night, against all odds and despite all their precautions, Sarah and Jennifer are abducted on the way home from a college party. They spend the next three years locked in a basement dungeon with two other young women until Sarah finally escapes. But by that time, Jennifer has already been removed from the cellar, never to return.

A decade later, Sarah has never gotten over the loss of Jennifer—or her guilt over being unable to lead investigators to Jennifer’s body. Living as a recluse, she finds any excuse not to leave her apartment—until she learns that her abductor is up for parole. Now her desire to lead detectives to Jennifer’s body is greater than ever…and time is running out.

Okay, so, The Never List is one of the best new thrillers I’ve read in the past few years. It’s well-written, well-paced, and thoroughly complete—that is, I didn’t feel there were any loose ends that Zan missed when tying things up. It’s a harrowing story, told in first person from Sarah’s perspective. We feel her grief and terror completely. All of the characters are refreshingly three-dimensional, all working under their own assumptions and with their own motives.

The one thing that gets to me a little bit is Sarah’s sudden determination to shed her agoraphobia. It’s great that she’s able to do it; I just don’t buy that she could realistically do it as quickly and relatively painlessly as she does. You don’t just cure yourself of PTSD overnight, after all. But this is a totally minor suspension-of-disbelief thing, and didn’t really lessen my enjoyment of the story.

If you enjoyed The Girl on the Train, anything by Gillian Flynn, and/or The Silent Wife, you should definitely give The Never List a try.


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4 thoughts on “The Never List – Koethi Zan

  1. Nice! It’s been a while since I read this one, but I did really enjoy it. Good timing on the re read – I agree that it’s perfect for fans of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN who may have missed NEVER LIST when it was released.

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