I have a love/hate relationship with Ken Follett novels. There is no in between. This is one of his better ones.
Summary: In the Sahara Desert, two elite intelligence agents are on the trail of a powerful group of drug-smuggling terrorists, risking their lives–and, when they fall desperately in love, their careers–at every turn. Nearby, a beautiful young widow fights against human traffickers while traveling illegally to Europe with the help of a mysterious man who may not be who he says he is.
In China, a senior government official with vast ambitions for himself and his country battles against the older Communist hawks in the government, who may be pushing China–and its close military ally, North Korea–to a place of no return.
And in the United States, Pauline Green, the country’s first woman president, navigates terrorist attacks, illegal arms trading, and the smear campaigns of her blustering political opponent with careful and deft diplomacy. She will do everything in her power to avoid starting an unnecessary war. But when one act of aggression leads to another, the most powerful countries in the world are caught in a complex web of alliances they can’t escape. And once all the sinister pieces are in place, can anyone–even those with the best of intentions and most elite skills–stop the inevitable?
With Ken Follett, I find that his characters make or break the novel. His plots are always decent but if he doesn’t have characters that I like then I hate them. His Twentieth Century trilogy is a case in point. I loved the first two novels because the characters were so good but the last book only had one character I could stand and I hated it.
Thankfully, Never has likeable characters so I enjoyed the book. It focuses on the growing tensions between The USA, China, North Korea and Africa and the impending nuclear war that is looming. The story builds well and the tension gets very high by the end of the book. It takes its time and very little plot happens in the beginning of the book but it does mean that we get to know our characters very well before everything starts going to shit.
The only real issue is that once the China/USA/North Korea storyline starts kicking off, the Africa storyline fades more and more into the background so, although that really is the catalyst to the whole story, it quickly becomes overshadowed and as a result, the characters don’t feel as important as the US and Chinese based characters. If there had been a better balance between the stories then this book would have rated higher for me.
One thing I did like was how abruptly the story ends. There’s no real conclusion and you’re left hanging with the choices the characters make. I think that was a very bold way to end the book.
On the whole, Never was a decent book. The story was intriguing and I liked the characters so it is definitely one of the better Ken Follett books I’ve read. It was definitely better than Pillars of the Earth, that’s for sure.
One thought on “Review: Never by Ken Follett”
Pingback: Friday Five: A Blind Moon Edition – Peat Long's Blog