Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson is a rollercoaster of a read with a female obsession vibe similar to A Simple Favour or The Perfection, with equally insane reveals, twists and turns. With a dramatic ending and never knowing who you can really trust, this is the perfect book for fans who wish to dispel their belief system and go on a psychologically thrilling journey. I read this book in a day and didn’t want to put it down until I knew how it could possibly end.
When Roux drops in on Amy and Charlotte’s cosy village book club, they are not best impressed. They are further disgruntled when she wants to play a ‘grown-up version’ of popular teenage drinking game, Never Have I Ever, in which they reveal the worst things they have ever done. Amy refuses to play and forces them all to leave her house. She could never have predicted the next couple of weeks. Roux knows EVERYTHING about Amy and wants a simple thing in return for her silence: money. However, Amy has a dark streak in her and she refuses to take it lying down. Fighting back, only one of these women will make it out with their reputation intact.
What I liked
Never Have I Ever gripped me right away. The story is easy to go along with and understand, as long as you don’t take it too seriously. I liked that despite finding out the main character’s secrets very early on, Jackson drip feeds extra snippets of information about the characters, including the neighbours which makes for intriguing reading. This book does not relent and I could see it being made into a movie very easily after watching similar storylines on the screen over the past year.
In terms of the characters, I sympathise with Amy being targeted for something that she did when she was young and drunk, but love the way that she fights back and gains Roux’s respect whilst attempting to thwart her attempts at blackmail. I found Roux to be compellingly repulsive; I would never be able to be friends with someone like her but they are absolutely great characters to shake things up. I hated the way she interrupted book club but admired the bold tenacity of it. The children had some great characteristics too, and I liked the part water and diving played in the narrative. This was a unique feature which I really enjoyed.
What I didn’t like
The beginning of the book was rather repetitive at times, but aside from this, my only real concern was the amount of times it felt as though the author was trying to shock me. Instead of certain actions and events happening through the flow of the plot, some felt like they were added in just to make the reader extra shocked and turn their heads. This could have been smoother just by dropping subtle hints about certain later reveals in the book.
Overall, this is a very good book. It gripped me and I didn’t put it down for hours. It’s tense and intriguing and clever in all the right ways. I would recommend this to people who enjoy movies such as A Simple Favour, or who are looking for the suspended belief of a saga mixed with the tone and plot of a domestic thriller. Thank you Bloomsbury and NetGalley for my proof and e-arc copies of this book. 4.5*