Never Saw Me Coming is a book that does what it says on the tin. Well, maybe. Despite the title, it seems I mostly saw this book coming miles and miles away.
We begin the narrative with Chloe, a freshman at John Adams University, recruited into a secret psychology department programme studying psychopaths. Chloe has been diagnosed with psychopathy–but the programme she’s in (with a hefty scholarship attached) is hoping to better understand psychopaths and their behaviour. But Chloe is also at John Adams for revenge. She is hunting Will Bachman, an upperclassman who ruined her life nearly a half-decade earlier, and has a plan for him.
What started as a fairly stock psychopathic-young-woman thriller (hey, I loved Killing Eve too) started to devolve into a mixed-bag running at about the speed of molasses. With a Chekov’s-gun so blaring it might as well be a Vegas billboard announcing THIS WAY FOR PLOT TWIST.
Ugh. Is that harsh? This book is doing some important work exploring the actual nature of psychopathy beyond the serial killer headlines. Kurian is a psychology PhD, so her scientific experience informs this novel in a compelling way. And her hometown of DC features heavily here and adds a lot of character–it really is a college town unlike any other.
And yet, despite the book’s argument that not all psychopaths are hard-wired to be criminals, the central character is a bloodthirsty killer. I was intrigued by some of the other characters also recruited into the programme. There’s Charles, the son of a Congressman, and Andre, a Black student relying on the programme’s scholarship–and potentially also lying about his diagnosis to get it. I would have loved to see a bit more of these characters, who are far more compelling than Chloe!
But the book’s ending made it obvious I’ll have to wait for the inevitable sequels to get their perspectives. But from the way this book landed, I won’t be waiting up.
RATING: 2/5 stars
Thanks to Penguin Random House and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest book review. NEVER SAW ME COMING will be released in the UK on 9 September 2021.
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