Never, by Ken Follett

Nine stars

Ken Follett returns with another stunning novel, where political and social action are layered throughout. Follett proves that some stories require a slow and intricate delivery, which can take time and many pages. Three significant goings-on take place in different parts of the world, each with their own implications. As tensions rise and political actors demonstrate their power, all eyes turn to the US president and how she plans to handle the crises. What begins as a mistake with a drone strike soon mushrooms into a cataclysmic event. All eyes look to the two counties who can solve it, though they are are odds as well. A brilliant piece that had me on the edge of my seat throughout, proving that Ken Follett still has it.

The world is an extremely precarious place, as politics weave their way into every possible situation. The country of Chad, long known to be full of corruption, is at the heart of a political situation involving two intelligence agents who are seeking to rid the region of a ruthless terrorist group. While no one said it would be easy, what’s even more difficult is trying to ignore the ongoing romantic sentiments that have developed. Lives and reputations are on the line, though no one seems too worried quite yet.

A strong supporter of some less than democratic regimes in the area, China is keeping its eye on what has been going on, including a senior government official who hopes to climb the ranks of the Communist Party, leaving the old wing in his dust. However, it is a delicate balancing act just to get one’s views noticed, let alone herd by those with some power. As a situation in Chad leaves China feeling vulnerable, talk of retaliation against America begins, with an annoying cousin nation, North Korea, happy to play a role in the action.

The American president, Pauline Green, has been facing a great deal of backlash as the country’s first female POTUS, both from the people and within the Republican Party. She’s held them off as best she can, but wants to make a name for herself in whatever way possible. Unwilling to go to war over something that could be handled with diplomacy, Green works channels for peace after a gaffe in Africa sees the Chinese boiling with ire. Events domino and the blowback gets more and more troubling, leaving both sides unwilling to turn the other cheek. It’s time to test resolve, diplomacy, and nuclear arsenals, but who will blink first and become the ultimate aggressor?

As the world watches, two superpowers do the dance and use their proxies to lay the groundwork for what could be a third and cataclysmic world war. It’s now time to see how things will go, in hopes of finding a final solution. Otherwise, it will be the obliteration of millions, if not billions, of lives and an end to any possible civility. All this, culminating in an act that no one could have predicted. A brilliant piece by Ken Follett that left me gasping aloud on many occasion and begging for more of this sort of book.

Ken Follett returns with a piece that is both sensational in its delivery and devastatingly chilling in its plausible nature. Putting politics, regional skirmishes, and the art of diplomacy in the spotlight, he hints at how the dominoes could fall, leaving everyone grasping for a shred of sensible maneuvering in a time when one wrong move could lead to disaster. His three-pronged storytelling is masterful and left me in awe, as things slowly inched together in a tale that is as plausible as anything seen in the news today. All the actors are there, with their own flavourings, in a narrative that leaves the reader feeling on the front lines.

There are many who take up the role of protagonists in their own right, forcing me to look at the larger character pool. Follett develops his characters with great backstories and powerful personal growth, pushing them to blossom as the story unfolds. There are many whose lives receive some of the limelight and this helps add depth to the overall story for all to enjoy. Politicians, intelligence officers, and even every day citizens play their role to shape the narrative and keep the plot from being too easily revealed. Brilliant efforts by Follett make it all worthwhile.

I have never come across a book by Ken Follett that I did not truly adore. His detailed narrative builds up a story like no other, using surrounding situations and people’s personal views to shape how things will go. Strong characters are always a key part of the story and Follett never fails there either, using believable names and scenarios to make things click. Plot lines that work effectively help shape the larger story and keep the reader enthralled with all that is taking place, culminating in some of the tensest storytelling I have come across. I could not get enough of the story, its intricate detail, and the plausible nature of things, based on the world in which we live. As Follett mentions in the opening, just like the Great War, the next ‘great war’ could be fought because politicians could not stop the momentum of something they did not want themselves.

Kudos, Mr. Follett, for a sobering and stunning look at the political landscape of hate world today. I hope many of your dedicated fans will take some time to enjoy this piece and feel as strongly as I do about it.