Archive for the ‘Vintage Books’ Category

Review: The Never List – Koethi Zan

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: The Never List
Author: Koethi Zan
Publication date: 1 August 2013
Publisher: Vintage Digital (Random House)
Format: E-book
ISBN: 9781448129744
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Thriller
Age group: Adult
Source: NetGalley
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | The Book Depository

In a nutshell

For years, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept what they called the “Never List”: a list of actions to be avoided, for safety’s sake, at all costs. But one night, against their best instincts, they accept a cab ride 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, at thirty-one, Sarah is still struggling to resume a normal life, living as a virtual recluse under a new name, unable to come to grips with the fact that Jennifer didn’t make it out of that cellar. Now, her abductor is up for parole and Sarah can no longer ignore the twisted letters he sends from jail.

Finally, Sarah decides to confront her phobias and the other survivors—who hold their own deep grudges against her. When she goes on a cross-country chase that takes her into the perverse world of BDSM, secret cults, and the arcane study of torture, she begins unravelling a mystery more horrifying than even she could have imagined.

My thoughts

Wow, wow, and wow. It’s been a few weeks since I finished this book and to tell you the truth, I’m still speechless. Based on what people were saying about it when the first proof copies came out and how many times I saw it being mentioned on social media, I knew it would be a memorable story, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as powerful and mind-blowing as it was. Saying that it was perfect wouldn’t completely be true because there were a few minor details I wasn’t particularly keen on but I found it unputdownable all the same and it’s definitely one of my favourite books this year.

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Review: A Week in December – Sebastian Faulks

Title: A Week in December
Author:
Sebastian Faulks
Publication date:
2010
Publisher:
Vintage Books
ISBN:
978-0-099-45828-9
Pages:
392
Genre: Literary fiction
Format: Paperback

Order from Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

London, the winter of 2007, a week before Christmas. Seven days for us to step into the lives of seven Londoners: John Veals, the hedge fund manager, a complete workaholic who never smiles and became completely alienated from his family; his son, Finbar, an average teenager who is obsessed with reality TV and drugs; Ralph Tranter, an obnoxious book reviewer who previously failed as a writer; Spike Borowski, a Polish footballer who recently joined a popular British team; Gabriel Northwood, a young lawyer who lacks any kind of motivation in life and has no interest in his job whatsoever; Hassan al-Rashid, a student who gets mixed up in a serious religious conflict and last but not least Jenni Fortune, a tube driver whose Circle Line train join these people’s lives on a daily basis. “The novel pieces together the complex patterns and crossings of modern urban life, and the group is forced, one by one, to confront the true nature of the world they inhabit.” (from the back cover)

This has been the first book I’ve read by Sebastian Faulks and I had such high hopes for this. The cover is drop-dead gorgeous (being in love with London I’m a little bit partial anyway), the blurb sounded promising and I was eager to start reading it – only to discover that it’s not nearly as good as I thought it would be. In short, it’s a huge disappointment.

It could have been so much better though! The main idea is great and very intriguing, but the characters and the writer’s style is not too enjoyable. None of the characters are particularly likeable, but that in itself wouldn’t be a problem. The worst thing about it is the complete lack of action throughout the novel – I was waiting for something to happen but nothing really did until the last 130 pages. The pace of the story was painfully slow and the fact that Faulks explained every single thing about the banking system, funds, the stock exchange, debt and so on made it even worse. There were many times when I couldn’t bear it any longer and started to skip these long paragraphs, then whole pages. Which I almost never do.

On the positive side, there was something about it that made me want to keep on reading. Partly it was due to the fact that I started to like Jenni and Gabriel and I wanted to know what happens to Hassan. So I did keep on reading and managed to finish it – the last 100 or 130 pages were more fast paced and less descriptive, finally. The ending was great and I really liked how everything turned out.

On the whole, did Faulks manage to convey his message and give a clear picture of contemporary London and British society? I would say yes. The characters a bit too far-fetched but he does have a point. All in all, it’s an OK read – do not start reading it if you’re not patient enough or if you don’t have much time. It’s not an easy read and it will be challenging at times (well…many times), but you might end up enjoying it if you prefer something less fast paced.

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