Publication Date: January 16, 2017
In Never Never by James Patterson and Candice Fox, Harry Blue is at the top of her game as a sex crimes investigator when her brother is arrested for the murders of three young women. She’s reassigned to the back of beyond and everything feels wrong. Desperate to clear her brother of charges, Harry’s investigation takes her on a sure path to destruction. Never Never is the first book in the Harry Blue series. Never Never was a puzzling read. My Dad is a huge James Patterson fan and, as he and I share an Amazon account, insists that I preorder Patterson’s dozens of releases per year. Occasionally, if a story looks like a good idea (or, more often, if my dad insists), I’ll check out a story. That was the case with Never Never. The story looked really promising and a lead female character pulled me further towards clicking the book cover. I wish I hadn’t bothered. Never Never is Escape from New York meets Mad Max. The setting is a mining settlement in the Australian outback that brings forward the worst of raucous and degenerate humanity. After finishing the novel I called my 70-year-old father, David, to see what he thought of the book. “Weird,” he said.
The first thing we discover about Blue is that she’s a hothead. Called into her superior’s office, she recollects the time that she was called in to see him when she punched a fellow officer for taking her parking spot. In the next breath, she tells us that she learned to fight for defensive reasons. She alleges that she’s a badass, but what we see is a looser to slightly unhinged canon. We get hints of her past full of sadness, but they are conveyed with the distance of an observer. If the main character isn’t connecting with the story, should we? I will add that there are times when the emotional distance with a character from their past reads as authentic, but in the case of Blue, it was more that person in your life who likes to tell you all the pain they’ve experienced when they’ve gone through nothing. The dialogue read to me as very American; “Chief, you’re talking crazy..” she says to her supervisor at the end of chapter four. The brevity of the chapters is also not doing the character any favors. At the end of Chapter four, the Chief tells her that she’s leaving and at the end of chapter five he tells her why. Despite the compact nature, there’s a lot of filler which causes the story to drag while preventing us from actually getting to know anything but the hype about the main character.
The plot line of Never Never listed in its product description read like a really good idea. Tough female lead is railroaded when her brother is accused of murder and sent to work in the far reaches of the realm where she’s under surveillance from those closest to her. Blue is out of her element with no one to trust. The execution of the idea left something to be desired and an interesting premise never quite came together. David, who is possibly James Patterson’s biggest fan, declared that Never Never is his least favorite of the author’s work telling me, “It just didn’t make sense.” Would a cop in Australia be able to cross state lines? I was very surprised to learn that Candice Fox, the co-author (and likely the actual author of the work) is Australian because, though I’ve never been to Australia, I was unconvinced by the details of the setting.
To summarize, neither super-fan, David, or I liked Never Never. There were a lot of huh-moments and all of the characters, from the main character down, were very thinly written. The story wasn’t fleshed out though there was an excess of filler and the story could have made, maybe, for a more interesting Bookshot than a 370-page novel.
Patterson’s characters are usually pretty underdeveloped and his writing somewhat simplistic, but Never Never takes that idea to an extreme. If you’re looking for a good #fridayread you might want to give another of James Patterson’s books a shot. His bibliography is long.
Read an excerpt and buy Never Never by James Patterson and Candice Fox on