Publication Date: September 7th, 2021
Hardcover. 400 pages.
If you're looking for a book with characters so compelling that you can't look away, then do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Never Saw Me Coming, because it has all that and so much more to make the perfect thriller.
Never Saw Me Coming has a unique premise: seven students diagnosed as psychopaths are invited to be part of an anonymous clinical study at their college meant to monitor and assess their experiences and interactions while students. Without any of the additional plot that unfolds (and boy, does it!), this premise alone is one that immediately grabbed me, not to mention the many twists that unfold throughout this story.
Since this book is heavily focused on some psychopathic characters, it very much came across to me as a character-focused thriller, which worked brilliantly. The POV switches between three characters in the psychopath clinical study: Chloe, a new student with a one-track goal; Charles, an older student who is far too smooth to be trusted; and Andre, another new student who isn't quite what he seems to be. I was fascinated by all of these characters and absolutely loved getting into their heads for the duration of this book. I think Kurian did a great job of conveying the way in which their minds may work, and it's clear that she has put a lot of research and consideration into this story. I also really appreciated that she touched on a lot of the misinformation that exists about psychopathy and how psychopaths act by interweaving information about the topic via the three main protagonists. She doesn't use the term lightly or use it in the casual way that people often do when referring to any person they don't like, but rather uses it correctly and responsibly to be an accurate descriptor.
The sort of murder-mystery element of this book was also really well done, and I found myself feeling just as creeped out as many of the characters felt at various moments. It was particularly interesting to read this storyline from various psychopaths' POVs due to the fact that they don't typically feel fear or other emotions in the same way that people who aren't psychopaths do, which made for a really new, fresh experience that I found interesting and added a new element to to the story. Things do get a bit complex, so make sure you are really paying attention to names and the like, but that only made this that much more exciting to follow and try to figure out.
This is not what I would consider the most fast-paced thriller, but it's still one that will make it easy to keep turning the pages and hard to putdown. There were also more than a few scenes that had me feeling on edge and truly creeped out when imaging hat was or had just unfolded on the page. I also liked how much follow-through Kurian had wit her characters. I can't really expand too much on this, but her characters remained very consistent throughout this story, and their own actions and follow-through were incredibly satisfying in comparison to books where characters tend to end up a bit less consistent, especially in thrillers.
I don't have too many complaints about this book, but I will say that, in general, it seems very common for authors to use mental illnesses as a huge basis or plot twist, etc. in thrillers. Obviously, this book is very upfront about the topic of the book, but it is something that sometimes sits oddly with me. I still read and thoroughly enjoyed this book, so I'm not saying anything negative about it, necessarily, but just something to sort of keep in mind when reading many of these types of thrillers. I personally feel that, despite some less positive plot events, this book showcases the potential lives of true psychopaths and the many different wants they can lead their own successful lives in society and adapt in healthy, natural ways, while still maintaining their own unique identity. On a writing note, my only complaint is that there was a lot of repetition about some of the characters' personalities, discussions about psychopaths, etc.–nothing that truly hindered the reading experience, but just something that felt it could have been edited down a bit.
Overall, I've given Never Saw Me Coming four stars! I had a great time reading this book and found myself glued to the page whenever I picked it up. I can't wait to see what Vera Kurian may be writing next, because I know I'll be picking it up.
*I received a copy of Never Saw Me Coming courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*