Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Ken Follett's Never, A Book Review

If you love a political thriller, you should check out Ken Follett's Never, a book in which we find the world on the brink of nuclear war / disaster.

In the past, I have read and thoroughly enjoyed a few historical Ken Follett novels. Never, however, as a modern war or political thriller about the possibility of nuclear disaster, was a definite departure for me.

Never is a saga about a crisis that could lead to a third world war. Follett himself says that the story was in part a result of his discovery that no one wanted the first world war. This book spans the globe from Africa’s Sahara Desert to China and the United States. It is 800 pages of story filled with a large cast and numerous story lines.

The Washington Post calls Never “a cautionary tale of global catastrophe.” Exactly. They also say that it is “credibly detailed and alarmingly plausible.” Disturbing? Yes, but I agree.


The first video shown below is a short trailer for the book, illustrating the Defcon system and alluding to the suspenseful nature of this novel. The second video, called Behind the Scenes with Ken Follett, is more interesting, detailing how he came up with the idea for this book.


Readers on Goodreads gave Never four stars; readers on Amazon gave it four stars as well.

Many reader comments show that people enjoyed the book, as I did. The story was extremely well researched and detailed and the storylines were interesting.

Many also found the book a bit longer than they thought it might have been and a bit slow or hard to be absorbed by at first and I agree on both of those points. I was also disappointed with how the individual story lines were sorted out and with the ending.

The premise of this book is disturbing. That is, seeing how a nuclear war might be played out. Let us hope that we never know the truth.

Like other readers, I give the book four stars and recommend it for those who enjoy political thrillers and for those who have enjoyed Follett’s previous contemporary thrillers. You can find Never here on Amazon in whatever format you prefer be that Kindle, audiobook, hardcover, paperback or audio CD.

See you
at the book store!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. I fear this would be a rather disturbing book for me to read and one that would haunt me afterwards. I suspect my husband & father might enjoy reading it though and I appreciate your honest review of "Never". The fact that you gave it 4 stars says more to me than anything. It must be a pretty good book in spite of the nerve-racking subject.

    1. And, let's hope this NEVER happens!

    2. This book was in large part about political relations between countries with personal stories woven in for interest and the threat of nuclear war hanging above it all. The personal stories made me continue to read. Yes, let's hope this NEVER happens.

  2. I have no doubt that Ken Follett did his usual excellent job of writing in Never. But I have to agree with Sylvestermouse; the subject is disturbing. You see, I was a teen in the 50s going through the fears that a nuclear disaster was actually about to happen between the U.S. and Russia. And people were building bomb shelters and isolating themselves from neighbors for fear they would take what they stockpiled. That uncertainty and fear stayed a long time and was terrifying to us children. So I don't find reliving that possibility again entertaining in book form. :) So I thank you for your review.

    1. The idea of nuclear war is definitely very disturbing and that what seems like a few people control the power to destroy so much is particularly disturbing. Reading Never was a learning experience. It opened my eyes a bit more but I can understand some not wanting to read it.

  3. I have enjoyed Ken Follett's historical novels in the past, even though they were very long too. I like political thrillers and I may give Never a try. It does sound disturbing but perhaps something we need to hear. Thanks for your review.

  4. Brenda, this sounds like a terrifying and must-read book, even for those of us who typically avoid thrillers. Sadly, those of us who fail to learn from history are, indeed, doomed to repeat it.

  5. I like Ken Follet as an author but tend to shy away from long, hard reads. Political anything is not my stronghold and I fear that this book would also keep me up at night. Horror stories really don't do too much for my beauty sleep. Thanks for this review Brenda and I hope that my friends who love this kind of story line look it up, myself, I think I will pass. There are times when I like being an ostrich with my head in the sand.

  6. This sounds like such a riveting book - I could get into this book, no doubt about it! I would actually watch a movie with this premise - I love political/global topics - If I had this book, I'd have to stop everything and read it, and thus all my other tasks would be put on the back burner.

  7. Thank you for your interesting review of this book. The subject is indeed disturbing. I recall learning about the implications of nuclear war at secondary school. It is a terrifying prospect. I am not sure this book is for me, but it sounds well written and I can see it being a compelling read.


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