Never: A Novel - book cover
Thrillers & Suspense
  • Publisher : Viking
  • Published : 09 Nov 2021
  • Pages : 816
  • ISBN-10 : 0593300017
  • ISBN-13 : 9780593300015
  • Language : English

Never: A Novel

New York Times Bestseller

The new must-read epic from master storyteller Ken Follett: more than a thriller, it's an action-packed, globe-spanning drama set in the present day.
"A compelling story, and only too realistic." -Lawrence H. Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary

"Every catastrophe begins with a little problem that doesn't get fixed." So says Pauline Green, president of the United States, in Follett's nerve-racking drama of international tension.
A shrinking oasis in the Sahara Desert; a stolen US Army drone; an uninhabited Japanese island; and one country's secret stash of deadly chemical poisons: all these play roles in a relentlessly escalating crisis.
Struggling to prevent the outbreak of world war are a young woman intelligence officer; a spy working undercover with jihadists; a brilliant Chinese spymaster; and Pauline herself, beleaguered by a populist rival for the next president election.

Never is an extraordinary novel, full of heroines and villains, false prophets and elite warriors, jaded politicians and opportunistic revolutionaries. It brims with cautionary wisdom for our times, and delivers a visceral, heart-pounding read that transports readers to the brink of the unimaginable.

Editorial Reviews

"Urgent and fiercely compelling . . . Never is first-rate entertainment that has something important to say. It deserves the popular success it will almost certainly achieve."
-The Washington Post

"Superstar novelist Ken Follett's what-if political thriller . . . is so exciting-and so plausible-you won't want to look away."
-Apple Books (Best Book of the Month)

"Settle in for a thrilling ride." 

"Terrific . . . A powerful, commanding performance from one of the top writers in the genre."
-Publishers Weekly (starred)

"A complex, scary thriller that feels too plausible for comfort. You'll be so absorbed in the story threads that you'll follow them anywhere-and you'll suddenly realize you've read hundreds of pages. . . . On one level, it's great entertainment; on another, a window into a sobering possibility."
-Kirkus (starred)

"Absolutely compelling . . . A smart, scary, and all-too-plausible thriller."

Readers Top Reviews

Big JohnDCkeenonbook
What a book, starting off ever so slowly the tension is rapidly escalated to a very sharp point but you are also reading about events in North Africa and a spy trying to find out happened to cocaine!! Abdul finally gets to be in a family and couldn't be happier. Easily recommended, very easy to read.
steven dunaway
Ken Follet is a master story teller and this scenario should be branded into the hearts of our worlds leaders. Paraphrasing Einstein, “I know not what weapons will fight in world war 3 but world war 4 will be fought with sticks and stones.”
This book is excellent and very thought-provoking. In the introduction Ken Follett says when he was writing the first book in his trilogy he realized that World War I started not because anybody really wanted it but because of a series of logical steps taken by all of the countries and it made him wonder could it happen again. Yes it could and in modern times that could mean nuclear war. That is what this book is about and it’s frightening because all the players in this world-wide saga are acting in the interests of their own countries and in accordance with treaties but for each action taken there is, of course, a reaction by others. So the dominoes begin to fall ….
ReebJ. Washburn
Very disappointing. I have read every book written by Ken Follett and this is certainly the worst. Overdone plot and weak character development.
CCJ. E. ThorntonLoui
I was so excited for this book. I love Ken Follett and have read almost all of his books. But this one is as if he went and did a Find/Replace to make everyone a "woke" character. I really wish authors would leave politics out of fiction - the way to write a great book is to take reality and alter it slightly to fit the story. Each character, taken alone in a vacuum, is fine. But when you put them all together, it's like he's trying to shove a political statement down our throats. Really disappointed :(

Short Excerpt Teaser

Chapter 1


Seen from a plane, the car would have looked like a slow beetle creeping across an endless beach, the sun glinting off its polished black armor. In fact it was doing thirty miles per hour, the maximum safe speed on a road that had unexpected potholes and cracks. No one wanted to get a flat tire in the Sahara Desert.


The road led north from N'Djamena, capital city of Chad, through the desert toward Lake Chad, the biggest oasis in the Sahara. The landscape was a long, flat vista of sand and rock with a few pale yellow dried-up bushes and a random scatter of large and small stones, everything the same shade of mid-tan, as bleak as a moonscape.


The desert was unnervingly like outer space, Tamara Levit thought, with the car as a rocket ship. If anything went wrong with her space suit she could die. The comparison was fanciful and made her smile. All the same she glanced into the back of the car, where there were two reassuringly large plastic demijohns of water, enough to keep them all alive in an emergency until help arrived, probably.


The car was American. It was designed for difficult terrain, with high clearance and low gearing. It had tinted windows, and Tamara was wearing sunglasses, but even so the light glared off the concrete road and hurt her eyes.


All four people in the car wore shades. The driver, Ali, was a local man, born and raised here in Chad. In the city he wore blue jeans and a T-shirt, but today he had on a floor-length robe called a galabiya, with a loose cotton scarf wound around his head, traditional clothing for protection from the merciless sun.


Next to Ali in the front was an American soldier, Corporal Peter Ackerman. The rifle held loosely across his knees was a US Army standard-issue short-barreled lightweight carbine. He was about twenty years old, one of those young men who seemed to overflow with chirpy friendliness. To Tamara, who was almost thirty, he seemed ridiculously young to be carrying a lethal weapon. But he had no lack of confidence-one time he had even had the cheek to ask her for a date. "I like you, Pete, but you're much too young for me," she had said.


Beside Tamara in the rear seat was Tabdar "Tab" Sadoul, an attachŽ at the European Union mission in N'Djamena. Tab's glossy mid-brown hair was fashionably long, but otherwise he looked like an off-duty business executive, in khakis and a sky-blue button-down shirt, the sleeves rolled to show brown wrists.


She was attached to the American embassy in N'Djamena, and she wore her regular working clothes, a long-sleeved dress over trousers, with her dark hair tucked into a headscarf. It was a practical outfit that offended no one, and with her brown eyes and olive skin she did not even look like a foreigner. In a high-crime country such as Chad it was safer not to stand out, especially for a woman.


She was keeping an eye on the odometer. They had been on the road a couple of hours but now they were close to their destination. Tamara was tense about the meeting ahead. A lot hung on it, including her own career.


"Our cover story is a fact-finding mission," she said. "Do you know much about the lake?"


"Enough, I think," Tab said. "The Chari River rises in central Africa, runs eight hundred and seventy miles, and stops here. Lake Chad sustains several million people in four countries: Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad. They're small farmers, graziers, and fishermen. Their favorite fish is the Nile perch, which can grow to six feet long and four hundred pounds."


Frenchmen speaking English always sounded as if they were trying to get you into bed, Tamara thought. Perhaps they always were. She said: "I guess they don't catch many Nile perch now that the water is so shallow."


"You're right. And the lake used to cover ten thousand square miles, but now it's only about five hundred. A lot of these people are on the edge of starvation."


"What do you think of the Chinese plan?"


"A canal one thousand five hundred miles long, bringing water from the river Congo? Chad's president is keen on it, not surprisingly. It might even happen-the Chinese do amazing things-but it won't be cheap, and it won't be soon."


China's investments in Africa were regarded, by Tamara's bosses in Washington and Tab's in Paris, with the same mixture of awestruck admiration and deep mistrust. Beijing spent billions, and got things done, but what were they really after?


Out of the corner of her eye Tamara saw a flash in the distance, a gleam as of sunlight on water. "Are we ap...