23 September 2013

Review: The Never List by Koethi Zan

The Never List by Koethi ZanSometimes art imitates life in eerie ways. That was the case for Koethi Zan and her debut novel, The Never List, which is about three women who were kidnapped by a sadistic man and held hostage in his cellar for years before one of them escaped. Just weeks before the novel was released this summer, three women in Cleveland escaped from their basement prison and the men who held them captive for nearly a decade.

The backdrop of the real-life case makes The Never List all the more scary. Zan's novel begins ten years after Sarah, Tracy, and Christine were returned to the world and when their abductor is getting ready for parole hearings. Because the police never found the body of Sarah's best friend, Jennifer, who was also kidnapped, Jack was not given a life sentence.

As the date of Jack's hearing approaches, Sarah decides her only hope for inner peace and to keep Jack locked away is to prove him a murderer. Eventually enlisting the help of Tracy and Christine, Sarah sets off on a journey that ultimately forces her to face her biggest fears.

Koethi Zan knows how to write a thriller, making The Never List the perfect audiobook for a recent road trip. Both Mr. BFR and I were taken in by the story, cringing at women's life in the cellar, wondering about Jack and his associates, and trying to guess at how the whole thing would play out. We even learned a new term: BDSM, which is the acronym for bondage, discipline, and sadomasochism.

The plotting and range of characters gave the two of us plenty to talk about during driving breaks: who was telling the truth, who was hiding something, whom should Sarah trust? Although we often figured things out on our own, neither of us anticipated the ending. Zan did a terrific job capturing our attention and keeping us guessing.

On the other hand, several story arcs were left hanging. Characters and situations were introduced and even developed but were never concluded. In fact, red herrings and extraneous information were given in the final quarter of the book and then were dropped without explanation and without tying them into the overall plot. Perhaps we are being set up for a sequel that will provide the answers, and if that's the case, I wish Zan had made this clearer.

Regardless of my issues with The Never List, I'm looking forward to more from Koethi Zan. She has great potential, especially if her work is given a stronger, tighter edit.

As I mentioned, we listened to the unabridged audiobook edition (Penguin Audio; 8 hr, 39 min), read by Kristen Sieh, a new-to-me narrator. Her performance was excellent. Although she did not infuse her reading with too much drama, she still managed to up the tension and augment the creep factor. We both appreciated her consistent characterizations and her ability to keep us engaged.

Penguin Group USA / Pamela Dorman Books, 2013
ISBN-13: 9780670026517
Source: Review (audio) (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy).

11 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks 9/23/13, 7:24 AM  

I hate hanging plot threads! :--)

Harvee 9/23/13, 7:33 AM  

Amazing how life imitates art...or should it be the other way round?

JoAnn 9/23/13, 7:56 AM  

This may be my next audio... it's on top of the review pile.

bermudaonion 9/23/13, 9:04 AM  

I really liked this book and felt like things were set up for a sequel too.

Sandra Danby 9/23/13, 10:15 AM  

I love listening to audio books too! SD

AmyMak 9/23/13, 1:09 PM  

Sounds wonderful! Thanks for the recommendation.

Daryl 9/23/13, 3:12 PM  

sounds good .. i just finished Jojo Moyes Windfallen .. its wonderful

Anita 9/23/13, 9:45 PM  

I enjoyed this book, agree with a few hanging threads. I also look forward to more books from this author.

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 9/26/13, 9:30 AM  

I have this at the top of my audio pile. I figured it would be creepy!

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries 9/27/13, 11:53 AM  

I had some issues with this one as well, but I think the author is definitely inventive and I'd like to see more from her as her writing skills get better and better. Great review.

Julie P. 9/30/13, 8:01 AM  

Overall, I liked this one and I thought it was pretty creepy.

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