by Chevy Stevens
Release Date: July 5, 2011
2011 St. Martin's Press
Softcover Edition (ARC): 416 Pages
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Source: Review Copy from Rita Silva (Publicist at St. Martin's Press)
3.5 / 5 Stars
All her life, Sara Gallagher has wondered about her birth parents. As an adopted child with two sisters who were born naturally to her parents, Sara did not have an ideal home life. The question of why she was given up for adoption has always haunted her. Finally, she is ready to take steps and to find closure. But some questions are better left unanswered.
After months of research, Sara locates her birth mother---only to be met with horror and rejection. Then she discovers the devastating truth: Her mother was the only victim ever to escape a killer who has been hunting women every summer for decades. But Sara soon realizes the only thing worse than finding out about her father is him finding out about her. What if murder is in your blood?
Never Knowing had a lot of excellent moments and definite flashes of brilliance, something I would expect of an author who wrote Still Missing, a bestselling novel that delivered chills and thrills in abundance, and there were moments where I was genuinely captivated by the writing, but I honestly have to admit that I struggled with the main character and actually sympathized more with the villain than I did with her. I also found the therapy sessions, which opened up every chapter in this novel, to be more of a hindrance than a help, taking away from my sympathy for the main character rather than creating sympathy for her. That being said, the premise of this novel was intriguing, and I found myself swept away by events just because I let myself imagine what it would be like to be in the position in which Sara found herself.
As I already mentioned, I knew something was wrong when I found myself becoming more sympathetic towards the villain than towards Sara, and didn't want him to be found. I'm not exactly sure when those feelings started, but I realized that Sara's whining about what to do in her situation did get on my nerves, and constantly calling her fiance, Evan, asking for his advice, and then ignoring it, really did wear on me as the novel wcontinued. Sara did have difficulties with her adoptive family, including her dad and both of her sisters, and while I found the interactions between the characters to be fascinating as so many families have these difficulties, I often found myself on the sisters' side as I wished Sara would just stick up for herself once in a while. I also would have liked some more information on Sara's family and what it was that caused all of these issues. I'm being a little hard on her, but I didn't really find her neuroses endearing. And it's not really the issues she had to deal with that bothered me, it just seemed like she had issues with everyone around her; she spent a lot of time obsessing over them rather than doing something about them.
Never Knowing, despite some of the character issues I had with it, moves quickly, and in such a way that it sucks you into the events without you realizing it. Ms. Stevens has a beautiful way of writing where the suspense draws you in and makes you want to continue reading. Considering that Sara spends less time on self-speculation and more time on decision-making during the second half of the book, I enjoyed this part a lot more as the action just seemed to pick up and take off. And when I thought I had it all figured out, there was an unexpected twist to the ending that surprised me. I will admit however, that I was not crazy about the surprise ending as it just didn't seem to fit in with the spirit of the rest of the novel and seemed really out of place. It does make you think quite a bit about whom you should place your trust though, as you never really know about a person until it really counts. Sara realizes who the 'good' people are in her life and seems ready to make some really good choices at the end. I personally liked Sara a lot better towards the end than I did in the first third of the novel.
Never Knowing was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to fans of the mystery/thriller genre simply for the originality of the concept and for the enjoyment of Ms. Stevens' writing skills. For those looking for a solid psychological thriller, Ms. Stevens delivers, definitely due to those moments of chills and thrills which do appear. For myself, while Never Knowing didn't quite live up to the expectations of Still Missing, I am looking forward to the third novel, Always Watching, which is Nadine's story, to be released next year.