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The Never List Hardcover – July 16, 2013

3.8 out of 5 stars 222 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"As gripping as last summer's Gone Girl—but darker, and with an eerie timeliness—Koethi Zan’s debut novel . . . is this year’s edge-of-your-towel beach reach.”

“A perfect breezy thriller for a hot day at the beach.”
Entertainment Weekly

“This is one scary throat-grabber… As twisted and terrifying as any novel in years.”

"Thoroughly enjoyable nail biter."
Ralph Gardner Jr., Wall Street Journal

“It is being billed as a page turner, and the author is being compared to Gillian Flynn, whose Gone Girl was the big book of summer 2012. I think you'll need thicker skin for this one though!”

“This fast-paced, disturbing thriller boasts a chilling premise as well as a layered first-person narrative full of shocking twists and turns.”
Library Journal

“Zan’s debut novel is shocking and disturbing. The intense psychological thriller combines a horrifying plot, well-developed characters, thought-provoking psychoanalysis and some great phrasing. Read it if you dare.”
RT Reviews, 4 ½ stars

“Zan's first novel is a haunting depiction of the emotional scars left on women held in captivity.”

"This story is a twisted tale of a courageous woman trying to make sense of a madman’s mind . . . For readers looking for a psychological thriller, The Never List will be hard to beat."

“A fast-paced, don’t-dare-put-the-book-down read that will leave you cringing as your darkest fears emerge from the shadows as Zan takes you to the places you never wanted to go.”
Suspense Magazine

“And thus begins a solid new series by a capable new writer.”
Mystery Scene Magazine

"This summer's most breath-stealing thriller."

"A dark psychological thriller, it will touch every nerve you have."
Tami Hoag

“A novel with powerful and poignant psychological insights.  Zan's razor-sharp debut combines the very best of page-turning suspense with classic head-game thrills and chills.  Not to be missed."
Lisa Gardner

"Throat clutching from the outset! The Never List stands as a sterling example of psychological thriller writing at its best. Cancel appointments and give up on sleep. It's that kind of book."
Jeffery Deaver

The Never List is a perfect entertainment. Thrilling, super smart, witty, and just about the most distracting thing in my recent life. I've stayed up past my bedtime, missed whole subway stops, left children at the playground. First readers will have to know what happens, and then they'll be awed by the flair with which Koethi Zan makes it happen.  This novel deserves all the success it is sure to have.”
Darin Strauss

"Sent icicles down my spine. One of the scariest thrillers I've ever read. This should be on every mystery reader's must-read list!"
Tess Gerritsen

"Cleverly plotted and highly entertaining, The Never List is a haunting psychological thriller that begs to be read in one sitting.  Be prepared."
—Alafair Burke

“From the first page of The Never List you have to know how this terrifying book will possibly end, and my advice to the reader is to only pick it up when you have the time to devote to it, because it’s impossible to put down. Even a casual glance will tell you this is no ordinary thriller: you WILL lose sleep over it. A book to devour in one sitting!”
—Elizabeth Haynes

"A nonstop psychological thriller with heart-wrenching twists."
Jed Rubenfeld

“A chilling premise that sucked me in from the first page and had me gripped all the way to the end as I tried to guess what was going to happen next.  An impressive debut!”
Chevy Stevens

The Never List got its sticky, sharp talons into me on the first paragraph and wouldn’t let go until I’d finished it in less than two days…a stylish and impressive debut thriller.
—S.J. Bolton

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 practiced entertainment law for more than fifteen years, working in film, television, and theater, most recently at MTV. She now lives in upstate New York with her husband and children.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books; First Edition edition (July 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670026514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670026517
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (222 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #867,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I had at least 4 instances of "are you kidding me" moments whilst reading this book. The author goes to great pains to establish that our protagonist is pretty much an agoraphobic sufferer of PTSD. Ok, fine... let's go with that. Then let's have her IMMEDIATELY and REPEATEDLY place herself in some of the most stereotypically dangerous situations that would give even a daredevil pause. Let's also make her (and several others) victims of a sadist. A monster who did unspeakable things. Yep, they're unspeakable... and apparently, unwrite-able. So, we really never find out what specifically these victims went through. I'm not a voyeur, but knowing exactly what happened would go a long way to understanding why any of this is going on and WHY our protagonist consistently makes the literary equivalent of the "bad horror movie choice" of running upstairs instead of out of the house. And if anyone can tell me if there's a cell phone on the market today that has GPS capability but also a battery so easily removed that it could fall out if thrown down on a car seat, I could cross at least one "are you kidding me" moment off my considerable list. But, let's face it is that really so unbelievable? After all, our agoraphobic, traumatized protagonist just flew across the country and is in the remotest, darkest back woods of the Pacific Northwest in a rental car ALL BY HERSELF spying on a group of men she believes to be members of a sadistic cult. Throw in a needless academic subplot aaaaaand, we're done. The back cover summary seemed promising... it sounded like a good idea. It was just very underwritten.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Warning: spoilers!! This book started off great especially considering the recent terrible events in Ohio. The author laid the groundwork for a pathic, tragic tale. One really felt for the main characters and their plight. The author uses flashbacks and indirect descriptions to create a creepy, sinister and nasty environment. But, suddenly the book turns into a kind of angry Nancy Drew mystery full of sadism and legions of black-clad networked Ariel Castro types somehow able to maintain their dungeons for years without any leaks, escapees or captures. If set in some kind of failed state like Somalia with no authorities, no police and no government maybe such a thing would be possible. It just isn't credible that mentally unstable lunatics in the US could create and maintain such a tightly run, efficient organization without it coming to light. They even have their own system of standardized secure bright white vans to transport captured girls to and from from a central depot. By very good writing the author just about pulls of the suspension of belief necessary to accept her premise. With the internet, chat rooms, etc. maybe the crazies could pull themselves together for a while. However, at this point the book turns into a really bad airport novel. The well developed characterizations disappear, guns are drawn, helicopters hover and utter disappointment sets in as the reader watches a great premise self destruct into utter silliness.
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Format: Hardcover
The Never List is Koethi Zan's debut novel. Zan hits us hard right from the first page....

"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 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 and Jennifer have been friends since childhood. They've lived by a set of 'never' rules. You know - never leave your drink unattended, never let the gas go below a quarter tank etc. But in their first semester of university, they make a mistake. A costly one. They are kidnapped and held captive by a psychopath named Jack. Some of the girls eventually manage to escape, but of course, their lives are never the same.

Sarah has spent the last ten years hiding in her high-rise apartment. Jack has sent her letters the entire time he's been in prison. When the FBI agent associated with her case brings the news that Jack is up for parole, he asks her to attend the hearing to present her statement against parole. (After only ten years?!) Sarah at first says no, but decides to finally face her past - and reclaim her life. But what she and the other survivors encounter is no less horrifying that their time in the cellar. Some details from the past are slowly revealed as the women try to crack the clues Jack has left for them in an attempt to find evidence to keep Jack in prison longer. Is someone still carrying on his bidding outside of the prison?

Zan's book released before the news of Amanda Berry's release, but the cases are eerily similar.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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