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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Audiobook Review: Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

TITLE: Never Knowing 
AUTHOR: Chevy Stevens 
NARRATOR: Carrington MacDuffie
PUBLISHER: Brilliance Audio
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook, 12 hrs and 14 mins
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense, Thriller
ISBN: 9781441843258
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 is a complex and compelling portrayal of one woman's quest to understand herself, her origins, and her family. That is, if she can survive....


I was blown away by Stevens’ debut, Still Missing, and I couldn’t wait to read more from her. 

Never Knowing is told in a similar fashion as Still Missing: The story is recounted through sessions with the protagonist’s therapist. Sara Gallagher is a 34 year-old single mother to a six year-old, Ally, living in Nanaimo, British Columbia. She is also engaged to a successful lodge owner named Evan. Sara was adopted and, after many years of trying to conceive their own child, her parents went on to have two daughters of their own: Lauren and Melanie. As a young girl of four when Lauren was born, Sara remembers the way that her father looked at Lauren…the way he never looked at her. Sadly, Sara’s father never treated her with the same love and devotion as his biological daughters.

Curious about her biological parents, Sara writes to the Province’s Vital Statistics Branch to ask for their names. The response is that her biological mother is Julia Laroche, and an internet search under this name leads her to a real estate agent in Victoria. The agent advises that she often receives calls that are meant for the “other” Julia Laroche, who is a university professor. When Sara tries to call her, Julia tells her  not to call her again. Sara can’t help herself, and she attends one of Julia’s university classes. She also follows Julia to her home when she leaves the university. Sara learns the shocking truth that her mother was raped by a serial killer known as the Campsite Killer, who is still on the loose. Julia has changed her name in an effort to hide from the killer because she still fears for her safety. Someone leaks the information to a website for local news, and not only is Julia’s identity revealed but also the identity of Sara and her biological father. The Campsite Killer sees the information and knows that he has a daughter, and he won’t stop until he gets what is his.

Stevens' sophomore novel is not quite as gripping as her debut, but it is still really good. Sara is a great character, and I really felt for her. It must have been terrible for her to see her father play favourites, and it makes sense that Sara would be driven to know more about her biological parents. I think that she is searching for that parental bond or connection that she never felt with her adoptive father. Stevens spins a great yarn, and my only complaint is the way in which it is told: Because of the manner in which we hear the story, some of the suspense is lost because we know that Sara survives in order to tell the tale!

I am still a fan of this Canadian author, and I am looking forward to reading her third novel, Always Watching, which was released last month.

Unfortunately, I think the narrator missed the mark with this one. Carrington MacDuffie made Sara sound so whiny and selfish, and it really put me off the book at first. I had to go back and actually pay attention to Stevens’ prose instead of the way that MacDuffie vocalized Sara’s character and came to realize that it was the narrator’s portrayal rather than the author’s that made the character sound this way. MacDuffie’s voice is also much better suited to a middle-aged character rather than a young mother in her early thirties. This is one of those rare cases when I would say pick up the book and read it instead of listening to the audiobook. 


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1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with your opinion of the narrator of this book. It was like listening to Mr. Rogers talk about a serial killer - YUK! However, the book was awesome!


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