Reviews for Never

by Ken Follett

Publishers Weekly
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In this terrific international thriller from MWA Grand Master Follett (Eye of the Needle), President Pauline Green, a moderate Republican who’s up for reelection, must contend for the nomination with far-right Sen. James Moore, whose macho talk appeals to many Republican voters. On the foreign policy front, Green wants to punish the Chinese for selling arms to terrorists, so she proposes a resolution against them in the United Nations. This is the first move in a political chess game between China and the U.S. that could lead to all-out war. At home, Green and her husband are having difficulties with their bright 14-year-old daughter, who’s being disruptive in school. Meanwhile, in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, CIA officer Tamara Levit is running Abdul John Haddad, a 25-year-old cigarette vendor, as a spy on the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. These are just a few of the plotlines Follett lays out in detail and then slowly weaves together as the stakes and the suspense steadily rise. By the final pages all is made clear, and the shocked reader realizes that the story hasn’t ended, it’s just beginning. This is a powerful, commanding performance from one of the top writers in the genre. (Nov.)


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In the Sahara, two intelligence agents counter drug-smuggling terrorists even as a young widow makes her unauthorized way to Europe. Meanwhile, an ambitious Chinese official goes up against his government's old guard, and terrorist attacks, illegal arms trading, and dirty politics push U.S. President Pauline Green into risky territory. Arguing that no government wanted to fight World War I—leaders instead got tripped up on alliances—Follett considers how world war could happen today. Follett's three most recent novels have debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best sellers list.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A complex, scary thriller that feels too plausible for comfort.Republican President Pauline Green is trying to steer the United States through a dangerous world. China spends billions in Africa to extend its global influence, while North African countries like Chad are beset by criminals and terrorists. But thats secondary to the real problem: Rebels in North Korea try to overthrow the Communist dynasty and reunite the North and South, which scares the bejesus out of China. They fear the peninsulas reunification, a euphemism for takeover by the capitalist West. The Chinese believe America and Europe want to destroy China and would stop at nothing," so the last thing they need is a bordering nation with West-leaning sympathies. And domestically, Green faces blowhard wannabe president Sen. James Moore, who thinks theres no point in having nukes if you wont use them. Even her personal life is complicated: Her husband was a good lover, but she had never wanted to tear his clothes off with her teeth. In fact, the first spouses are quietly drifting apart. Yet she could not fall in love with another man. It would be a hurricane, a train crash, a nuclear bomb. Speaking of which, both superpowers have ironclad commitments to protect their allies, even if some crazy third parties get their hands on nuclear weapons. Will China and the U.S. be drawn into all-out war neither wants? This novel deals with the same great-power issues as Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis recent 2034, and both will give you the willies. Follett could have cut back on the North African subplot and delivered a tighter yarn, but then you mightnt have learned that a helicopter glides like a grand piano. Anyway, thats Follett: Youll be so absorbed in the story threads that youll follow them anywhereand youll suddenly realize youve read hundreds of pages.On one level, its great entertainment; on another, a window into a sobering possibility. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A complex, scary thriller that feels too plausible for comfort. Republican President Pauline Green is trying to steer the United States through a dangerous world. China spends billions in Africa to extend its global influence, while North African countries like Chad are beset by criminals and terrorists. But that’s secondary to the real problem: Rebels in North Korea try to overthrow the Communist dynasty and reunite the North and South, which scares the bejesus out of China. They fear the peninsula’s reunification, “a euphemism for takeover by the capitalist West.” The Chinese believe America and Europe want to destroy China “and would stop at nothing," so the last thing they need is a bordering nation with West-leaning sympathies. And domestically, Green faces “blowhard” wannabe president Sen. James Moore, who thinks there’s no point in having nukes if you won’t use them. Even her personal life is complicated: Her husband “was a good lover, but she had never wanted to tear his clothes off with her teeth.” In fact, the first spouses are quietly drifting apart. Yet she “could not fall in love” with another man. “It would be a hurricane, a train crash, a nuclear bomb.” Speaking of which, both superpowers have ironclad commitments to protect their allies, even if some crazy third parties get their hands on nuclear weapons. Will China and the U.S. be drawn into all-out war neither wants? This novel deals with the same great-power issues as Elliot Ackerman and James Stavridis’ recent 2034, and both will give you the willies. Follett could have cut back on the North African subplot and delivered a tighter yarn, but then you mightn’t have learned that “a helicopter glides like a grand piano.” Anyway, that’s Follett: You’ll be so absorbed in the story threads that you’ll follow them anywhere—and you’ll suddenly realize you’ve read hundreds of pages. On one level, it’s great entertainment; on another, a window into a sobering possibility. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Follett, whose WWII spy thrillers Eye of the Needle and The Key to Rebecca were breakthrough bestsellers more than 30 years ago, then turned to historical epics (including The Pillars of the Earth). Now he returns to thrillers, this one set in the present day. Heavily loaded with political intrigue, the book proposes a terrifying scenario: spurred on by unrest in Africa, China believes the U.S. intends to use the upheaval there to launch a political attack on China itself. At the story’s center is U.S. President Pauline Green, who’s juggling threats both foreign and domestic (including a dangerous American presidential candidate). She is a realistic character, a strong leader in a time of worldwide chaos, and Follett has crafted a story that is politically complex and completely believable. This is a thriller, not a political treatise, so readers should be prepared for action and a certain amount of pyrotechnics, but the novel’s major selling point is its absolutely compelling political intrigue. A smart, scary, and all-too-plausible thriller.

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