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.