Written By: Koethi Zan
Published By: Pamela Dorman Books an imprint of Viking July 2013
Length: 320 pages
Ten years ago Sarah and Jennifer were two very careful college students. They were meticulous and planning, they made lists of ways to stay safe and not get hurt. Jennifer had lost her parents in a terrible accident and the two friends had been very conscientious of each choice they made. That is until one night their planned paid for ride home turned out to be a mad man. He abducted them and took them cross country and put them in a dungeon like cellar with two other women. He kept them there for over 3 years. Jennifer didn’t communicate, and was kept in a box. Each of the women were physically tortured. One day Jennifer is taken and never returns. She is presumed dead, but her body has never been recovered.
Now Sarah, and the other two women are asked to consider speaking at a hearing where their captor may be released on parole. Sarah has now completed college and lives in New York City, in a very safe and secure high rise, which she never leaves. She has food delivered, and her meticulous habits have found her a career as an actuary. She has contact with the FBI agent who handled their case, and a therapist she doesn’t quite trust. She has also been receiving letters from her captor, letters she believes hold clues to where Jennifer can be found. Sarah has to decide how strong she is, if she can leave her protected world and if she can convince the other two captives to help her.
I wanted to read THE NEVER LIST as soon as I heard about it. The mental images of women being held captive, being saved but haunted by their torture was intriguing to me. I wondered what kind of sick person would do this. While the reader does get to know a bit about her captor early on, his motivation is a long journey.
The book is really more of a look into Sarah and her recovery and problem solving to find answers. At times the route she takes seem bold, even for a person who hasn’t been living in a sheltered existence. Some of the sidestepping around the FBI and other officials also appear far fetched but for the most part her goal for answers and to find Jennifer is sincere and plausible. The flashbacks to her captivity are dark but not explicit or gory. The most frightening scenes are their initial abduction and entry into the basement. There is also much suspense as Sarah and the other captives begin to close in on some answers. Sarah finds the world her captor was a part of much darker than any she’s known.
I enjoyed this book, it kept me guessing, and I read it quite quickly. I’ve given in 4 out of 5 stars. It’s not something I wanted to read while alone, and I did read most of it during the day. I will definitely be looking for more books from Koethi Zan You can learn more about Ms. Zan on her website. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thrillers or psychological mysteries.