Posts Tagged torture

The Never List: book review & giveaway

never list

The Never List by Koethi Zan. Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books / Viking (July 16, 2013). Fiction. Thriller. Hardcover. 303 pages. ISBN 978-0-670-02651-7.

In The Never List, a college professor held four women captive in a cellar—chained to the walls, put in cages/ boxes, tortured and sexually abused– for years until one manages to escape. Creepy premise and au currant after rescue of Cleveland women imprisoned and sexually assaulted for years. When the man responsible for this unimaginable behavior becomes eligible for parole 13 years later, two women begin their own investigation into BDSM clubs, cults and more. Jumping back and forth from past to present, first-time novelist Koethi Zan painstakingly describes the captive experience and its aftermath on the women’s current lives told from Sarah’s point of view. She’s the one still in therapy and in constant contact with the case’s lead detective.

“It was a history I revealed in isolate images. Me, blindfolded, my feet in chains hanging from the I-clamp bolted to the ceiling. Me, on the table, spread out like an inset for dissection, a catheter running to my bladder, filling me up milliliter by milliliter. Me, in the corner, strapped to a chair with my wrists cuffed behind me, a surgical needle piercing my tongue.”

Sarah works from home, safely ensconced in her apartment, ordering out for lunch and relying on the building’s 24-7 security. Christine erased any evidence to her years spent underground, now living a seemingly idyllic existence on the Manhattan’s Upper East Side, married with two daughters. Tracy, the Goth kid with her own dark past, delved into academia to make sense of it all.

I understand that in allowing these women to take down those responsible for the atrocities they suffered makes this about empowerment and justice. It’s the ultimate revenge for those trafficked and abused. Unfortunately, the story lost steam toward the end and I didn’t care the reasons for this deranged behavior that ruined young women’s lives forever. Knowing that this just happened in a Cleveland neighborhood made this a difficult read.

RATING: ***/5

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Viking.

Giveaway: I’m giving away a copy of The Never List courtesy of Pamela Dorman/Viking. Contest closes August 1. If interested, please leave a comment. Open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

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book review: The Torturer in the Mirror

Title: The Torturer in the Mirror
Author: Ramsey Clark, Thomas Ehrlich Reifer, Haifa Zangana
ISBN: 978-1583229132
Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: Seven Stories Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2010)
Category: non-fiction
Review source: publisher
Rating: B-

This vital book covers torture from three points of view. It’ll make you think about U.S. policy on torture—whether for the former or the current administration. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Professor of sociology Thomas Ehrlich Reifer and Iraqi dissident Haifa Zangana each enlighten the reader with their personal and professional opinions about torture. Of course it’s all anti-torture, so the book is one-sided but I’m not sure that anyone would write about being pro-torture.

General Clark:

Torture is most common where fear and hatred are greatest, where human freedom is most fragile, where tyranny and militarism are most powerful, and where gentleness, idealism, and liberty are hard to find. The prevalence of fear is an essential condition among a free people before they will knowingly accept torture by their government; conversely, during ages of reform, enlightenment, and belief in the possibility of progress and freedom, the act has been most condemned and its existence most hidden from view.

Professor Reifer:

So even though Guantanamo may in fact be closed under the Obama administration, the systemic problem will continue to exist unless there is a radical change in policy.

Another issue of profound importance is the whole question of secrecy and transparency in government.

Haifa Zangana:

My personal experience of torture is dominated by a sense of humiliation and powerlessness. Torturers, whether Americans acting on behalf of a democratically elected government or Iraqis acting on behalf of tyranny, have one aim in mind: to break your will. When you are stripped of your clothes, you are stripped of your self-respect and dignity, and gradually your humanity. You are reduced to begging for the most basic of needs: a drink of water, or to go to the toilet, or, for a woman, to have some sanitary towels.

For the tortured, it is a lifelong scar.


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