The Never List by Koethi Zan

There are some books that are just too scary for me to read. I’ve never once been tempted to read The Exorcist. I’ve only ever made it halfway through The Stand. And, I’ve laid down The Never List three times. When a book deals with out and out evil, that is not the book for me.
Parts of this book appeal to the extraordinarily cautious side of me. The part that makes lists. The part that plans for the future and how to prevent something awful from happening. Best friends Sarah and Jennifer make what they call The Never List in the hopes that adhering to it will prevent them from suffering. It begins like this:
1. Never hitchhike.
2. Never pick up hitchhikers.
3. Never scream, “Help.” Scream, “FIRE.” People are cowards.
4. Never wear restrictive clothing. Don’t be impaired.
5. Never be predictable: change daily routines.
6. Never ignore your gut.
7. Never panic.
8. Never enter parking garages. Just don’t.
9. Never forget to check the floorboards and back seat first.
10. Never leave the primary crime scene. Run, scream, fight. Never let them isolate you.
The list goes on to item 33 (Never get out of your car. If it breaks down, turn on your hazards and interior lights, call the police). The problem lies in thinking that lists can save you, for even our most pre-cautious  behaviors can be thwarted in this fallen world. Which is what happens to Sarah and Jennifer. They are kidnapped and chained in a cellar by a psychology professor who specializes in sadism.
When only on page 31 I came to the following passage: “It was a history I revealed in isolated images. Me, blindfolded, my feet on chains hanging from an I-clamp bolted to the ceiling. Me, on the table, spread out like an insect for dissection, a catheter running to my bladder, filling me up milliliter by milliliter. Me, in the corner, strapped to a chair with my wrists cuffed behind me, a surgical needle piercing my tongue.” 
It was at this point that I felt I couldn’t continue reading much more, and what sealed the deal was reading this quote from the author: “While writing this book, I did a formal research into BDSM, abnormal psychology, victimological studies, statistical analysis, you know – the usual. My computer got a lot of viruses, and I saw a lot of disturbing text and images that are etched in my brain forever.”
That is what scares me the most. I can’t live with putting horrors in my mind which are never to be forgotten. If you like being scared to death, if you can separate what happens in a fictional world with the one you live in, this book would be perfect for you. 
You just need to be made of braver stuff than I.
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18 thoughts on “The Never List by Koethi Zan”

  1. Nope, this book is NOT for me. SCARY. Excuse me while I go search for images of puppies and kittens and daisies and butterflies and sunshine…

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  2. I can't watch scary movies even more than I can't read scary books! I think Zan was spot on when she said the images are etched in one's mind forever, and who needs those kind images?

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  3. Bellezza, I can completely understand your feelings about this one. I almost stopped reading it quite a few times, but somehow just finished it off. That's what makes it such a terrifying book – the reality behind the fiction (these awful, horrible things happen to innocent people). It was definitely one of the creepiest and most disturbing books I've read.

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  4. Just reading that list made my heart pound with fear. Reading the passage from page 31 one made me cringe with disgust. I can handle some scary reads, but this sort of torture makes my skin crawl. I would've quit, too.

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  5. Wow. I understand how you feel. I would read it, because it's validation of the dark underbelly in the world; the evil darkness that exists that people don't see or want to see. I want to know about it, so I can be prepared and know what I'm dealing with. As a therapist, I've heard a lot of stuff that makes the evil in the world quite real for me…

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  6. This sort of thing isn't scary. It's disgusting, and it panders to the lowest parts of our personality. I've seen evil, and experienced it. I don't need any more of it.

    Beyond that, I live by this cautionary maxim: garbage in, garbage out. We are shaped by the voices we choose to listen to, by what we choose to see. You know I'm no Pollyanna, no escapist. When the bad stuff shows up, I can deal. But choose to immerse myself in it when there's no need to? Shoot – that's why I've given up the 24 hour news cycle and television!

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  7. My attitude is usually, “There are enough horrible things in the world. Why do I need to put more in my head?” Sounds like we are cut from the same cloth, my dear.

    And this is random, but I ordered a Japanese book today! Banana Yoshimoto's KITCHEN. Can't wait to read it!

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  8. I got this book recently and I was looking forward to it but now I think I'm going to have to read it with the lights on! Might be a good choice for Carl's R.I.P. challenge!

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  9. In a nutshell:

    “8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

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  10. I'm not that brave. I actually returned a book to B & N because the cover made it sound unique and twisted but not sadistic. It was about S & M. Eck.

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  11. Tessa Afshar continues to fulfill the promise she made with her two previous books (Pearl in the Sand and Harvest of Rubies) in Harvest of Gold; the promise to keep the reader intrigued with colorful characters, interesting plot lines and beautiful history. The underlying themes of faithfulness and devotion always draw me into her writing. As with the first two books, I read into the night, wanting more of my heroine and her fantastic wit and her resolve. Enjoyed this book immensely! Buy it! You'll love it!

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  12. I've been really curious of this one for a while – even hoping to read it sometime. But that passage makes me think otherwise – I don't think I'll want to read all that gore.

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