Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Review of "Never Knowing" [48]

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens
St.Martin's Press, ISBN  978-0312595685
July 5, 2011, 416 pages

Sometimes, you should be careful what you wish for because, at the old saying goes, it might just come true. So true, as Sara Gallagher finds out.

Having grown up the adopted child in a family with two biological children of her adopted parents, she has always felt different, the odd man out. It has always upset her, with cause it seems, that her father treated her different than he treated her two younger sisters. Even now, when she is grown, the issues continue and she remembers her dream of her imagined loving birth parents that were forced to give her up but would love to be reunited. And with a daughter of her own and about to be married, she wonder what her background, her medical history might be.

She does some research and then hires a private detective who finds her mother. But unlike her dream, her birth mother, a successful college professor wants nothing to do with her. In fact, she is extremely upset at her daughter turning up. And again, it seems with cause, because her birth mother is the only living victim of a serial killer who has haunted British Columbia for decades. And she is a result of her mother’s rape, by a killer, who is still loose, as her father.
Gosh, her adopted dad is not looking so bad now.

Let me start by saying that I loved, loved, loved
Ms. Stevens' first book, Still Missing. A great idea, told in a clever way, with a totally unexpected ending. So, with my fear of the “Second Book” syndrome and having read some mixed reviews, I approached this book gingerly. Bottom line, while it is a good book, I don’t think it is nearly as good a book as her first.

The premise is interesting.
What would it be like to search for your birth parents and have it turn out so horribly? How could you not help but wonder if you…and in turn your child…have inherited some of a killer’s traits? And what responsibility do you have in helping the police catch this man?
So the first part of the book, that starts to explore these issues, is pretty interesting. But then we get caught up in a long…long…middle with a great deal of exploration of Sara’s thoughts and not much action. Should she do this, should she do that. And honestly, the more we shared her thoughts, the less I liked her. The more we saw the behavior of her daughter, the more I think she needed a serious parenting intervention. And as the book went on, more and more I wondered why her almost too good to be true finance put up with it all.

In Still Missing the author used the device of the lead character telling her story, in flashbacks, to her psychiatrist. She was a strong, independent, successful woman who underwent a terrible experienced that almost destroyed her psychologically and is trying to get her life back. In Never Knowing, again Stevens uses the device of conversations with a psychiatrist to shape the book, but with less success. Here Sara comes across as a rather whiny young woman, who has been seeing this doctor for years to deal with her daddy issues and a lot of bad boyfriends. Ok, he liked your sisters better. Face it…move on! At least he was not a serial killer.

Also, what does it say that John, her killer father, is almost likable? Gosh, that does not seem right. They have so much in common, her sends her gifts..ok, very creepy gifts, but still..he is concerned about her. If he would just stop killing people. Add a totally unnecessary twist at the end of the story..that I did see coming..well, yes I had a few issues.

Honestly, it is a good book, but to my mind it just suffers in comparison to the first book. Did I mention I loved that one? Yes..I did.


  1. Wait? She contacted her birth father after finding out he's a serial killer? That's crazy.

    My word verification is leader. :)

  2. well, she is helping the cops to find him..but she also has those father issues..

  3. I didn't like her first book much, so your eval. is a good indication to me that I won't like the second at all! :--)

  4. yep, I would have to agree, since I thought the first was much better than the second. best just move

  5. Well done!! I think I would have to agree with just about everything you said.

  6. Just like Verdon's first book, Think of a Number; I loved it and thought it was really clever and then Shut Your Eyes Tight was a disappointment when compared to the first book. At least you loved the first one. It's a crap shoot, I guess.

  7. It is the "Second Book" syndrome. maybe they just pour so much into the first that they don't have quite as much left for the second.

  8. I still haven't read either book by Stevens -- I want to though, but just haven't gotten to them. I'm hoping you know how that goes sometimes:(


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