The Never List

The Never List

by Koethi Zan
3.5 24


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The Never List by Koethi Zan

“Psychological thriller writing at its best. Cancel appointments and give up on sleep. It’s that kind of book.” —Jeffery Deaver

For years, Sarah Farber and her best friend, Jennifer, kept what they called the Never List: a list of actions to be avoided at all costs, for safety’s sake. But one night, against their best instincts, they accept a cab ride—one with grave, everlasting consequences. For the next three years, they are held captive with two other girls in a dungeon-like cellar by a connoisseur of sadism. Ten years later, Sarah’s abductor is up for parole and she can no longer ignore the twisted letters he sends to her from prison. But when Sarah decides to confront her phobias and reconnect with the other survivors she begins unraveling a mystery more horrifying than even she could have imagined.

A blazingly fast read with eerie similarities to the recent kidnapping case in Cleveland, The Never List is a smart, riveting, and bold pageturner that will leave readers awake all night with the lights on.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143125587
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/24/2014
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Koethi Zan was born and raised in rural Alabama, then moved to New York City after earning a J.D. from Yale Law School. She has practiced entertainment law for more than fifteen years, most recently at MTV. She now lives in upstate New York.

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The Never List 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
nfmgirl More than 1 year ago
This is the story of three women, held captive and tortured for years by a sadist, and now 10 years free and still attempting to deal with the results of their ordeal. One of the women is on a quest to find out what happened to her friend Jennifer, the fourth girl who died during their captivity. Of course, first I must state the obvious and point out the crazy coincidence that this book was released right around the time that the three girls were rescued in Cleveland after ten years of captivity. The story was intriguing. And at times the writing could be quite engaging. However one thing that really bugged me was the dialogue between the girls. It felt unauthentic, stiff and formal. Usually I am a dialogue reader-- it's what I prefer. Not this time. I came to dread the dialogue, as everything else in the story was so much better written. And there were times the story was just plain preposterous. My final word: This story had its moments. It wasn't generally gratuitously violent or gory. (Considering the context, I feared I may be walking into something like the movie "Hostel", and was happy to see it was not.) Some of the writing was pretty good, and the story kept me guessing, wondering what would come next. There was a nice twist at the end that made the story ultimately satisfying. But I struggled with the dialogue and some of the characters, and some things were just plain ridiculous. I recommend this book, but not without reservations.
jesdoit7 More than 1 year ago
I was pretty disappointed in this book for several reasons.  I read this book to fill the void that various other books left, such as Gone Girl (cliché I know), Sharp Objects, Dark Places, and The Girl on the Train. These thrillers left me hungry for more dark and mysterious psychological thrillers, and I found this one on a list of comparable novels. I read mixed reviews on this book, but the synopsis drew me in. Two girls develop a list of things never to do to put themselves in harm’s way.  Despite their efforts, they are captured and locked in a basement where they are tortured for years.  For me, I never was able to connect with the characters. Sarah, the main character was not likable. I wanted to feel her pain and her terror. I wanted to experience her anxiety, and have empathy for her, but I just felt that her personality was all over the place.  I felt detached from her throughout the course of the book. One minute she is a recluse who hasn’t left her house in years, the next thing you know she is posing as a reporter/ college student writing a paper and traveling all over the country conducting various interviews.   Little detail was given about what went on in the basement, which is what I thought would comprise most of the book. For those with a weak stomach this would probably be a good thing, but I felt myself hungry for more details. If you like anything gruesome or scary, I would say this is probably not going to do it for you. I found that the majority of the book was about the search for Jennifer’s body. Although this sounds intriguing, the search was bland. I found myself getting very bored with all the interviews and twists in the plot. I lost interest and began mixing up all the fleeting characters and getting lost.  During the investigation, the girls realized their captor has ties to a BDSM cult. This also sounds interesting at a glance, but honestly it just seemed like a piggy back on the fascination with the subject that Fifty Shades of Grey elicited. I found myself more annoyed by the ties to BDSM than intrigued. Because the details were not intense, I found this addition to the book to be unnecessary. I had a hard time making it through the rest of the book, but continued despite my instinct to put it down and call it a loss. I was slightly intrigued and wanted to know happened to Jennifer’s body as well as what Sarah did to upset the others she was held captive with. For that reason I can’t say the book was a total loss, it kept me engaged enough to want to know the ending.  Despite the potential the story line of this book provides, it fell short of expectation. If you are looking for a nail biting, edge of your seat, have to read it all night book, I would say this is not the book for you. 
BasingstoneBook More than 1 year ago
A topical story with all the recent news bulletins about young abducted girls held captive. The terror and despair is very apparent in this captive turned detective story, you live through Sarah's, Tracy's and Christine's collective ordeals with Jack Derber. At times, I warn you may wince at their experiences. Jack is behind bars but eligible for parole and Sarah feels she cannot rely on the FBI to stop this happening. Overcoming all her fears she leads her cellar mates in finding the truth about her friend Jennifer. An excellent book and thoroughly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldnt stop reading the last part of the book. No, the main character was not very likeable, i didnt like anyone in the book. Thats part of what was so disturbing. And the reviewers who wanted more details about the torture? I am GLAD not to know, it was part of the mystery. I thought the stilted dialogue between the girls was believable. To think 3 girls in this situation would become soulmates and be able to talk normally is ludicrous. Read it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not stop reading
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Never List is true creepy story. The strong female leads grip you and don't let you go. This book is fast paced and keeps you guessing to the very end. It has its scary gruesome moments, but its good overall.
Anonymous 25 days ago
I still think it's worth the read, yes some thing don't line up well but I couldn't put it down! I would reread again
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An intense look into the lives of four kidnapped girls who were trapped for years and eventually escaped. This was a fascinating story with many twists and turns. I would definitely recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book with a nice twist
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page
224perweek More than 1 year ago
Could not put this book down. Read it in 2 days. Disgusting, scary, perverted.......etc. It was amazing. Glad it was fiction though. I wish the story would have gone a little more into the captivity. It focused primarily on the investigation the girls were carrying out. the ending left it open for more books about the others. Maybe??
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a great book, and I look forward to more from this author. If this is her first, I can only imagine how good she's going to get!
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azbairdva More than 1 year ago
The Never List by Koethi Zan did not disappoint. With well developed characters the story starts with two girls who survive a tragedy. This draws them closer as friends and on the brink of being a bit crazy. The Never List is about survival and trust. It also covers how people recover from crimes against them. Don't read the reviews that give character names and the whole plot -- let it be new and fresh for you and the thriller of a read will be a good thing -- like new blood in your body when you breathe. Good book for a book club. Readers who like surprise endings and thrill and mystery readers will love this book.
musicman14 More than 1 year ago
What starts out as an intriguing plot line quickly disintegrates into a tale that lacks character development and believability. While it was somewhat of an entertaining read there were just too many flaws in the writing to be considered anything more than a mediocre read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This  was an interesting plot and the timing to the news story of the release of the young women from CLeveland  its startling.   The early part of the book feels a little forced and unlikely - young women don't post a list on their closet doors and the dialogue was awkward.....It finds its feet and marches along pretty well with and exciting ending with a surprise twist but I am not sure I still liked these women all that much.....It was O.K. but not really great.............  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I admit that the book kept me entertained and reaeding until the last chapter. However, that was only because I thought the author was going to have these major plot twist and everything I predicted would turn out to be wrong. Well I was wrong. All of the "plot twists" that were in the book... I figured out in the first few chapters. There were also major holes and flaws in the story. Stop reading this review now if you haven't read the book... In other words.. SPOILER ALERT... My first problem with this book, and it may sound depraved but... I wanted the excruciating details of what these girls went through. I wanted to see how this horrible guy (Jack) was able to manipulate and torture these girls. The only thing the author says is "terrible things happened." What terrible things? What did he do to them? Most of the book just talks about how Sarah is scared of everything (human contact, traveling, etc) I guess I was more expecting a physcological thriller instead of just reading about how badly Sarah was affected by PTSD.... I could get over that... but the story had flaws in it... Which brings me to my second problem... How the hell did Sarah reveal Tracy's secret to Jack back when they were being held in his house? The author repeatidly says that no one knew Tracy's secret and they always referred to it as "The Disaster" (or whatever can't remember) but the reason they refer to it as this is because THEY HAVE NO IDEA what happened to Tracy. The author even says that the first time for Sarah to hear about the terrible event in Tracy's life is in the "present time" when Tracy drags Sarah to New Orleans where they sit by the lake and Tracy tells the story. In the last few chapters... Tracy accuses Sarah of telling Jack that Tracy's brother (her only family and the only person she ever truly loved) had committed suicide and that Jack used it against her to torture her. Admittedly... the author says that Sarah has tried to block out as much as possible from that time... but it still doesn't really make sense and it's not enough of a shocker to be a twist... Ohhhh big shocker... a girl that was held captive, beaten and tortured... only thought about her own survival until she escaped. That's stupid and it's not a twist (which I think the author intended it to be). My third and last problem was that I saw everything coming from the get-go. As soon as Noah Philben's character was introduced and the author revealed his family had foster kids... I knew one of those kids was Jack Derber. As soon as the author brought Sylvia's character into the mix and revealed that she hadn't been seen around town in a while... I knew that it would turn out to be Jennifer. The fact that Sarah never actually saw her dead body made that painfully obvious. This was supposed to be the ultimate plot twist.. but I was so dissappointed because it was extremely predictable. The only reason I kept reading the book was because I hoped that the author would prove my suspicions false.... make this incredible plot twist and blow my mind... WRONG. This book had potential but it fell short of my mark.
eternalised More than 1 year ago
Actual rating: 2,5 stars The opening chapters of this book were amazing, dark, horrifying and terrible. Like in any good psychological thriller, the terror is in what isn’t said, as opposed to what is said. Best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept a “Never List” for years. These were actions all to be avoided at all costs, to keep themselves safe. One night, against all rules of the Never List, they accept a cab ribe that has terrible consequences. For the next three years they’re held captive with two other girls in a dungeon-like cellar by a man who torments them both physically and emotionally. First of all, I found it heartbreaking that it was those two girls, who always kept a list of strict rules, who were eventually kidnapped. This is actually an evil thought for me. Why would it be less horrible if a party girl who never cared about consequences was kidnapped and tortured than Sarah and Jennifer? I have no idea, but that’s how I felt – and it’s a horrible thought to feel that way. Secondly, my stomach almost turned inside out when I read about Jennifer’s fate, and the other girl’s reaction to it. The other girls in the cellar were relieved to have Sarah and Jennifer join them, because days before their tormenter had left a box in the cellar, and they’d grown afraid one of them would have to go inside the box. When it turned out it was Jennifer, they were relieved. It’s a horrifying, but all too human thought to be relieved when someone else is tortured instead of yourself. I could relate to the girls stuck in the dungeon. What happened to Jennifer was horrible, and the descriptions of the box, the feelings of the main character when she saw her friend locked up inside, all made me feel nauseous. Then as the story progresses, we get descriptions of the horror the tormenter put them through, and this put my stomach on edge as well. However, whereas the first part of the novel is unbelievably strong in a raw, emotional way, the second part falls flat. Apparently the person responsible isn’t done tormenting them yet, and he’s enlisted the help of others to confront Sarah and the other girls with their past and lure them back into the mansion where he tortured them. There’s a blatant Deus Ex Machina moment when one of the women shows up just in time to save Sarah and the others. Right. Then, at the end there’s a big reveal I saw coming from miles away and doesn’t rank highly in terms of originality. The book definitely goes for a big reveal and climatic ending, but definitely falls short. All in all, the book started out strong, had a mediocre middle and a low ending. It’s all right if you’re in the mood for a thriller, I guess, but if the book had stayed strong, it would’ve definitely been exceptional. Now I’m a little disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read while vacationing in aruba. Was a cross of james patterson and the following tv series. Fast read but not as scary as i expected.
jewelknits More than 1 year ago
Great hook, premise, and beginning from a promising new author My Take: "Human beings are so terrible. . . . They can bear anything." - From the film The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, director and screenwriter (from the flyleaf of The Never List) Book beginning: There were four of us down there for the first thirty-two months and eleven days of our captivity. And then, very suddenly and without warning, there were three. Even though the fourth person hadn't made any noise at all in several months, the room got very quiet when she was gone. For a long time after that, we sat in silence, in the dark, wondering which of us would be next in the box. Sarah "Caroline" and Jennifer have been best friends since elementary school. On the way home from middle school one day, a tragic accident brings them even closer than before. In the wake of the accident, they became extremely cautious and compiled a "Never List" - a sort of safety list of things both to do (in case of accident/natural disaster/kidnapping, etc.) as well as things never to do to avoid being in any of the aforementioned situations. When they are both 18, they finally step away from the comfort of home to attend Ohio University (neighborhood, car services, dorm all researched beforehand to ensure safety). Upon returning from a party (not too late and definitely without too much to drink), riding in the back of a car from a car service they had presumed to be safe, they are kidnapped and held for three years in a dark basement along with two other girls, tortured victims of a sadistic man. The novel begins ten years after their release, with Sarah living basically as a hermit in her NYC apartment. Food and necessities are delivered, and, since she works from home, there is basically no need for her to leave. So she doesn't. Until she is contacted by Agent McCordy, who asks her to go to the parole hearing and testify against the release of her former captor. Coupled with a recently received letter from her former abductor, this request causes Sarah to leave the safety of her "nest" in search of answers. You see, one of the girls didn't make it out of that basement. Since a body was never found, their captor couldn't be convicted of murder. Sarah is determined to find the missing girl to ensure that their captor is never released from prison. This novel begins with a lot of promise. The beginning chapters make you want to keep reading and reading until you find out what's going on. The back story of each girl is revealed in bits and pieces, and there are glimpses (not TOO detailed, but still rather stomach-churning) into their lives in the basement. As I read, I wondered why each of the surviving girls seemed to dislike each other so much - one would think that their shared experience, no matter how devastating, would make them feel close to each other, but that doesn't seem to be the case. They've each dealt with their ordeal in totally distinct fashions. This IS a fast read, surprisingly so considering the subject matter. Once past the beginning chapters, however, a huge chunk of the action and, most assuredly, Sarah's investigation, becomes so implausible that it breaks belief. It also felt somewhat rushed, as though the author tried to insert too many outre' plot outtakes and questions into the narrative flow: a religious cult, S&M practitioners and their club, intrigue at a college campus, the mysteriously missing wife of their captor, the relative ease with which Sarah again enters the outside world. There is a big twist near the end that caught me by surprise and sort of made up for the middle parts of the book :) I do love dark fiction, but I feel that the comparison to "Gone Girl" and "Before I Go to Sleep" are a bit stretched. This title has the promise and the hook, but flagged for a while before it picked back up, while the two mentioned titles pretty much never let up and did not stretch my credulity. I live blocks away (literally, two blocks over and two blocks down) from a house where three young women were held captive for over a decade. The timing of this book release was not intentional, but definitely made me even more interested. I think that this is a promising debut author and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next as she fine-tunes her art. QUOTES: The summer before we went off to Ohio University, our anxieties reached a fever pitch. We would soon be leaving my attic room, which we shared, and go into the vast unknown: a college campus. In preparation, we made the Never List and hung it on the back of our bedroom door. Jennifer, who was plagued by insomnia, would often get up in the middle of the night to add to it: never go to the campus library alone at night, never park more than six spaces from your destination, never trust a stranger with a flat tire. Never, never, never. He got inside your mind, crawled in like a venomous snake slithering into a hole in the desert, then twisted around in there until he was fully comfortable and at home. It had been hard to resist him when physical weakness made you turn to your attacker as a savior. Harder to push him away when, after taking everything away from you, maybe forever, he doled out the only things you needed to sustain you - food, water, cleanliness, the least sign of affection. We were waiting. Always waiting. As though we wanted something new to happen. Often wishing it would, because the boredom made you even crazier. But when something new did happen, it usually hurt, and then we ended up taking all our wishes back. Writing: 3.5 out of 5 stars Plot: 3.5 out of 5 stars Characters: 3 out of 5 stars Reading Immersion: 3 out 5 stars BOOK RATING: 3.25 out of 5 stars Sensitive Reader: Maybe a bit risky. Rare profanity, an F-bomb dropped here and there, and sexual and torture references that may be a bit much for the more sensitive reader. Book Club Recommendation: I think this depends on the members. Some may be put off by the subject matter, but others may find discussion material such as "How would I react in that situation?", etc.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Sarah/Caroline lived through a horrific car accident and with her best friend made a list of things never to do to hopefully avoid any other catastrophes.  Something happened one night while they were at college and they end up kidnapped and locked in a basement and tortured.  The story picks up years after Sarah escapes and is thrust into a hunt for information to avoid her captor to be put out on parole.  She must link up with the other two girls who survived the terror to finish what she started.