Book Reviews

Book Review: Never Have I Ever, by Lucy V. Hay

Never Have I Ever, by Lucy V. Hay

Publication: Hodder & Stoughton; December 12, 2019

never have i everAbout the book:

Twenty years ago

Four teenagers discover a new game.

They add their own rules, going from sharing secrets to sharing firsts.

And then it all goes spiraling out of control.


A woman gets a note through her door which chills her blood

‘Never have I ever been punished for what I have done’

She thought this was over. But it looks like it’s her turn to play

Because no matter how far it goes, you have to obey the rules of the game. And the game is never really over.

**My Review**

I recently spotted this title on NetGalley and was immediately drawn in by both the cover and the title. This novel is about a writer named Samantha, who has recently returned to her hometown with her husband, Mo and her toddler son, Caleb. As the blurb states, one day while sifting through the mail she finds a letter stating, “Never have I ever been punished for what I have done.” Thus begins Sam’s mission/obsession with finding out who sent the letter and why. 

When Sam was a teenager, her three best friends were Maddy, Ruby, and Aimee. One day they are normal teenagers and then one day they start playing Never Have I Ever, constantly upping the ante and the risk level of the dares and challenges. Aimee immediately stands out as the alpha of the group and some of her behaviors were eerily similar to some of the bitchy girls I was friends with growing up. None of the others were saints by any means, but Aimee appeared to be the evilest throughout most of the novel and Sam’s flashbacks/memories. Regardless, Aimee and her mother Lyndy moved away when Aimee was a teenager and she hasn’t connected with any of the girls again. 

Issues presented at the start of the novel include Sam’s disconnect with her husband, continued struggles to relate to her free-spirited mother, discontent with the idea of unpacking their new house, and her upcoming deadline for the next book in her detective series – which she hasn’t made much progress on. Several failed attempts at starting a new business, coupled with Aimee’s infertility issues have saddled the couple with debt they are trying to get out from under and although Mo has finally established a successful company, it results in him traveling most of the time. Sometimes they seem to like each other during the novel but a lot of the time they are just snipping at and nagging each other.

Then the notes start showing up and Sam is convinced that it is Aimee screwing with her after all of these years. Sam starts trying to track down Ruby and Maddy to find out Aimee’s whereabouts. She stalks Aimee’s family’s store trying to find her. She runs into her old boyfriend from school, Michael, who is now a cop, and tries to enlist his help in finding Aimee. 

All of that part was boring. Unfortunately, her search for Aimee makes up about 75% of the novel. 

Coupled with her boring search for Aimee is endless examples of Sam conveniently forgetting about events from her adolescence and/or spinning them in a completely different light which is evident in the chilly reception she gets from Michael, Ruby, and Maddy. Obviously, Sam remembers herself quite differently than everyone else and continues this disillusioned sense of self by not sharing any of this with Mo and keeping all of her investigative work to herself. Some things he does find out about because police get involved, but otherwise she diligently works to preserve the image she thinks he has of her. And this also gets exhausting.

So, what are my overall thoughts? I did not love this book, nor did I dislike it. If you’re a fan of psychological thrillers, you may very well enjoy this one. Especially if you like novels where sins from the past can come back to haunt us. However, if you prefer something fast-paced with a lot of twists and turns, this one probably isn’t for you. There are really only two surprises and they both occur in the last 10% of the novel. Nevertheless, I will read Lucy Hay again if given the opportunity because I enjoyed her overall style and tone. 

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.


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