Cover Image: Never

Never

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Member Reviews

Captivating and intriguing story about relationships, current events,  and the responsibility of being a good world leader. It is definitely a must read! I couldn't put it down.
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I have been a Ken Follett fan for decades.  My favorites are the long multi-layered stories that compel me to keep reading. <b>Never</b> fits that category.  Follett paints a world entwined by family, politics, economy, religion, and more while building characters who are at once everyman and unique beings.  The heart of this story is family, international relationships, diplomacy, and the interconnectedness of lives around the world.  Follett's ability to weave it all together held me captivated.  Never is set in the near future in northern Africa, eastern Asia, and the United States.  If you want more details you will have to read someone else's review.  I do not wish to give away anything.  Highly recommend!
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This was not a book I normally would have chosen as it isn't in the genres I typically read. That said, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The intrigue and suspense, along with the personal stories of the main characters held my interest throughout. It was a bit unsettling however when current news stories had me comparing what was happening in the book to around the world. If you enjoy a good espionage/spy thriller, check this one out!
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An intense thriller of how the world races toward nuclear war. This is certainly not a book for the timid as it is in many ways a disturbing read but that being said, it is masterfully done. The characters are complex, the pace fast and the story disturbingly realistic.  Highly recomend.
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So once again I barrel through another 800+ page Ken Follett book. And once again, it’s a fast paced, can’t put down book. Set in Africa, China, and North Korea each story intriguing and enjoyable. Is World War III imminent, will the USA, China, and Korea work things out? Follett shows us people living a life around keep us safe, makes you aware of how fragile life real is. I’ve always enjoyed Follett ‘s historical fiction, nevertheless, this modern day novel made me scared about our near future.
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I have enjoyed many of Ken Follett’s books (admittedly. Some  WAY more than others), so I was excited to dive into Never, his new novel set in the present (possibly future?) time. My husband seemed a bit disappointed that it isn’t historical fiction, so I am curious to get his reaction…but in any case I am grateful to Penguin Group Viking and NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for this honest review. 

TBH, I read this about a month ago, and when I sat down to write this, I realized I was having difficulty remembering it…until I realized why: I am currently about halfway through Peril, by Bob Woodward and Jim Acosta, and the reality of the current situation is just way to scary. I just couldn’t handle the fictional leadup to world war at the same time as the catastrophe currently threatening our democracy is unfolding. (Yes, I am NOT a fan of the former Administration, and the fact that the reality was even worse than we realized is more than a bit unsettling).

In any case, Never is filled with well-developed characters, plotlines, and drama from around the world. In the U.S. the first female President, Pauline Green, is determined to keep the country out of war and safe from terrorists. She has a political adversary who is an aggressive bully, and she recognizes that “A fool was just a fool, but a fool in the White House was the most dangerous person in the world” (as shown by Woodward and Costa!). As she deals with one crisis after another, her personal life may be nearing its own meltdown. She watches her populist opponent on “…a channel that did not even pretend to report objectively,” being interviewed by a female reporter “…who described herself as a soccer mom conservative, but really she was just a bigot.”  Sound familiar?

The second major storyline takes place in Africa, specifically in Chad, where two young intelligence agents (one from the US, one from France) fall in love as they are working together with a young spy named Abdul, trying to stop a shipment of cocaine in the Sudan that is destined to be sold for a boatload of money to fund terrorists. And in a third storyline, there is a tug of war between a moderate named Kai whose father is a hardline,oldschool Communist leader in the middle of a tense situation as North Korea is falling apart, and there is a looming disaster if the hardliners prevail and a nuclear war breaks out. 

Follett is, as usual, a master storyteller, and the characters and events are related in a way that both enhances their unique situations and personalities while demonstrating that they are indeed completely interconnected. About two thirds of the way through, I had the sense that there was not going to be an optimistic or uplifting resolution to any of the crises, and while I totally enjoyed the experience of reading Never, it was definitely scary as hell, and sometimes hit just too close to home, I suspect that if I had not been reading Peril at the same time, it might have been a more positive (and less frightening) read, but it will definitely resonate with Follett fans, fans of espionage fiction, and anyone looking for a thought-provoking reading experience. Four stars, only because of the nightmares.
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I've read Follett's historical fiction (Pillars of the Earth, etc), but had not read any of his modern/suspense/spy books. If this is an example, I think I'll skip them. With multiple characters in multiple countries, and multiple issues this book just bored me. I read almost 1/2 and finally gave up. I didn't really care about any of the characters, and the suspense that's apparently leading to world war just didn't capture my attention either. Maybe I'll try again at a later date, but for now....
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This book is not for the faint of heart. Telling the story, step by gripping step  of how the world reached the state of nuclear war, Follett does a masterful job of bringing such a scenario to life. From the deserts of Africa to the halls of power in Beijing to the Situation Room in the White House, “Never” recreates the tangled web of international politics through the actions of Abdul, a CIA agent gathering information in the African country of Chad, Kai, a rising political star in China and Pauline Green, the president of the United States. Offstage but always in the middle of things is the erratic Supreme Leader of North Korea, The twin forces of political power and international alliances draw the major players of the world together in an escalating game of Chicken. We see how a decision in one country, analyzed by  the power structure in other countries sends the world down an ever-widening path of military response. The characters play their parts authentically based on their experience, knowledge and perspective. The reader watches with dread as we see the inevitable outcome. There are no superheroes or magic bullets to save the day. 
With the recent publication of Bob Woodward’s book Peril we learn of the behind-the-scenes phone calls of Gen. Milley, head of theJoint Chief of Staffs to leaders in China for the purpose of averting the threat of nuclear  war. Such real life actions only strengthen the idea that Never is more fact than fiction. It does not make comfortable bedtime  reading but it tells a story that should be told. The question remains, can we construct a more hopeful ending to the story?
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Excellent -- Ken Follett does it again.  A timely story considering the world events we are leaving through.
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According to his introductory remarks, Follett wanted to explore how a war  (like World War I) could happen without any world leaders wanting it to.  Set in a near future, the novel revolves around three settings and sets of characters:  the US president, a woman whose life has its own complexities as she navigates one crisis after another; the Sudan, where two agents are dedicated to stop rebel terrorism, and the flow of drugs and illegal immigration that victimiize the impoverished citizens; and China, where a particular diplomat works tirelessly to manage the conflicts between North and South Korea and the impact on the world stage, in the face of hawkish politicians.  The various threads are managed well, with distinct and interesting characters.  But don't expect to be uplifted by the ending.
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An intense thriller of political intrigue amid stories of love, family, and relationship. Pauline Green is the first US President and she is determined to keep America safe from terrorists and out of nuclear war. But, relationships between allies and enemies are strained and Pauline walks a thin line between war and peace. 
In Africa, two young agents, one from France and the other from the US, fall in love while handling a young spy named Abdul who is tracking a cocaine shipment that will fund terrorists. In China, a moderate named Kai tries to reason with the Communist hardliners, which include his father, to prevent attacks on South Korea as North Korea is falling apart with internal rebellion. 
As tensions build, each leader makes decisions that may lead to nuclear disaster.
A suspenseful story that highlights the interconnectedness of global events and how leaders make reactionary decisions, sometimes based more on saving face and public opinion than on doing what is best for world peace.
Recommended for all suspense and espionage fans, especially focusing on the current political atmosphere.
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A modern day tale of political intrigue, Follett writes another blockbuster. A fast  compelling read,  kept me on the edge of my seat!
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Master writer Ken Follett is at it again. Less than a year after the release of his epic The Evening and the Morning comes an incredible new modern day political. thriller. 

“Never” is a taut, hold-on-to your seats, roller coaster ride of emotions. It's a nerve-wracking ‘what if’ this could really happen chiller. The chain reaction of events and escalations presented in this fiction are spine-tingling, plausible and unnerving. This is one that you don't want to miss. It's not a horror story, but it will scare you for sure. 

Reality can be Scarier than Make-believe!

While reading “Never” there were passages that awed me; others that made me cry; and sections that left me in a chilled panic. When an author can evoke these ranges of reader emotions—that's masterful writing! Brilliant indeed. 

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for and ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.
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I really enjoyed another great book by Ken Follett who rarely disappoints with his fantastic books. He writes beautifully and I particularly like long books if they capture your imagination as this one does with the story of a female president (which we hopefully see someday soon)
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I've read Follett's books before and have never been this upset.  It's how World War III happens with African, French, American, North and South Korea, and China all playing out what they believe to be true.  You have to read the book to get the jest of it and to gain insight to the people who rule.  It's full of characters that you will love and villains you will hate.  It's a long read but it's worth the time spent reading (816 pages).  You will be intrigued by the stories that Ken gives you.  I was captivated by his story that happened in Chad, but the other ones are just as interesting.  I always like it  when you get to know the characters and how they think.  Way to write Ken!
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“Never”
By Ken Follett 

Coming Soon… 

Pauline Green is in many ways a typical executive mom.  She’s concerned about complaints from a school principal that her only child, a 14-year-old daughter, is disruptive in class.  She feels less intimate with her husband and has suspicions that he's cheating.  Pauline is small in stature, but exudes a mighty presence.  She's whip-smart, focused, tough and prepared to make difficult choices—if required—even those that she prays she'll NEVER have to make.  Pauline Green, is the first female President of the United States of America.

In Ken Follett’s upcoming suspense thriller, “Never,” we get to know Pauline Green on an intimate basis—she is a woman with a family, as well as the leader of the free world. She has deep personal feelings, yet she is also a decisive politician and diplomat.  Pauline Green is only one of the terrific cast of characters featured in “Never.”  For balance—Yin and Yang—there are also plenty of baddies that you've going to love to hate!

The novel weaves multiple interrelated story lines, with captivating characters and intriguing plots.  Like all of Follett’s extraordinary books, there is tension and heartache—love and betrayal.  There are covert-ops in North Africa monitoring terrorist activities; arms dealers, drug smugglers and human traffickers; as well as government coups and heightened military skirmishes threatening world peace and the possibility of World War III.

“Never” is a taut, hold-on-to your seats, roller coaster ride of emotions.  It's a nerve-wracking ‘what if’ this could really happen chiller.  The chain reaction of events and escalations presented in this fiction are spine-tingling, plausible and unnerving.  This is one that you don't want to miss.  It's not a horror story, but it will scare you for sure.   Reality can be Scarier than Make-believe!

While reading “Never” there were passages that awed me; others that made me cry; and sections that left me in a chilled panic.  When an author can evoke these ranges of reader emotions—that's masterful writing!  Brilliant indeed.


========
 
The Book Maven’s Journal—Reviews for Word Connoisseurs

REVIEWER:                J.Hunt
STAR RATING            ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Never”
By Ken Follett 

Suspense Fiction 
ISBN 9780593300015 (hardcover) | ISBN 9780593300022
Publication Date:  09 November 2021
VIKING, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC. Publishing

My Sincere Appreciation to NetGalley, Author Ken Follett, and VIKING, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC. Publishing for Providing this Advance Reader's Copy for Review.
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A very well conceived and constructed novel following the steps taken by world powers to drift into all out nuclear war in which no one wants such a catastrophe but no one has the wisdom to prevent it. The book begins in two separate places.  First is a trip across the Sahara desert by a group of refugees that have paid a fortune to a seeming leader of a group that might be able to smuggle them into Europe.  The second is the president of the United States that has settled back and relaxing thinking that there are no problems to disturb her and she can concentrate on a new love that she has found to replace her husband who is off on an affair of his own.
  The CIA has a spy traveling with the group heading across the Sahara. He is tasked with locating a group of radical Islamists that plan to attack the interests of the U.S.  He is to report his findings as soon as he can to a young woman intelligence officer who is out looking for the same enemies and starting an affair of her own.  And, oh yes, the spy traveling with the main group is engulfed in his own affair with one of the women in the group whom he has saved several times from unwanted advances from guards watching the travelers.
     With everyone in place the author begins descriptions of reactions to world conditions as foreseen by them and answers from others in a power group consisting of the U.S., China, North and South Korea.  North Korea decides to make sure that they are not going to be attacked by either South Korea or the United States and begins to bomb The South Korean army marching towards their frontier.  Then south Korea attacks North Korean troops marching to attack south Korea and we are off to reaction after reaction with all thinking that their opponents will not perceive these moves as wanting all out war.
     The arrival at an ending that is obviously inevitable is perfectly planned and easily seen as one that would be at the forefront in the minds of the politicians that would normally be in charge of such decisions.  This group is easily the best delineated and pictured as most see politicians as lying, cheating and limited and never fit to reply to a situation En fronting their countries. An easily five star novel from the pen of a five star author.
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This is my least favorite Ken Follett book, The  premise of the book is that minor diplomatic infractions can  escalate tension between nations with nuclear capabilities. There is a female US president..Her family  drama is also part of the backstory of the novel. Finally, there is a very depressing ending.
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I enjoyed this book, even though Follett's style of declarative writing made the majority of the story feel like exposition. But then again, maybe it is exposition and there'll be a sequel. 
I like all the characters, though the teenaged daughter of the American President could be annoying at times. 
Even with all the exposition, the story still managed to give me goosebumps and I'll be thinking about it for a long time.
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