Book Review: Never Saw Me Coming – Vera Kurian

Never Saw Me Coming - Vera Kurian

I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

About The Book

Meet Chloe. First-year student, ordinary, legging-wearing, girl next door…and highly intelligent diagnosed psychopath.

Chloe is part of a secret clinical study of young psychopaths run by the university’s Psychology Department. Most psychopaths aren’t criminals, but when a string of murders on campus causes upheaval, Chloe’s private vendetta is sidelined. Partnered with fellow study participants she can’t trust – and distracted by typical university life – Chloe has to walk the line between hunter and prey.

Perfect for fans of My Sister the Serial Killer, Killing Eve and The Secret History, Never Saw Me coming is a sharp, electrifying and hugely entertaining thriller with an antiheroine who will work her manipulative magic on you.

My Review

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian is an absolute cracker of a novel which I absolutely loved. It’s about Chloe a student at John Adams University in Washington DC. We meet her on her first day at College, where she is unpacking her clothes, meeting fellow students and plotting how to murder someone.

Chloe is a psychopath who has been accepted into John Adams as part of a study by Dr Leonard Wyman who heads up the college’s Psychology Department. The study examines those who have been diagnosed as being psychopaths. She is given a smart watch which will on occasion ask her to rate her emotions on a scale of one to ten. At other times she will have to take part in short tests which measure her thought processes and rationale.

She knows she is one of seven students on the study, and she isn’t strictly speaking supposed to know who the others are, but birds of a feather do indeed flock together. Chloe’s main concern is tracking down Will, a young man from her past so she can kill him, preferably slowly and painfully. But when people from the Psychopath Study start to get murdered one by one she realises that actually she is the one in a game of cat and mouse and her carefully laid plans will be interrupted. How annoying

I absolutely loved this novel. A book about psychopaths sounds like it should be quite serious, but actually it just felt like a whole heap of fun. Kurian writes her characters so well, making them feel three dimensional and not just one note – which it would’ve been easy to do. She did this so well that I actually had a crush on one of the psychopaths and I was really rooting for Chloe and found myself hoping that she tracked Will down to murder him. She was definitely likeable and interesting and somebody I could really get behind. There’s also some very funny bits with a lot of wry and tongue in cheek humour. Despite the heavy subject matter there is a lightness to the prose which makes it very readable and absorbing.

There’s also a lot of interesting stuff about psychopaths and their behaviours and Kurian does a really great job at showing that people with this diagnosis aren’t necessarily serial killers (despite Chloe wanting to kill somebody, but we’ll brush over that, ahem). The other students in the programme are all very different, with some trying to understand their diagnosis and find a way of navigating life as a psychopath whilst others just embrace it and lean right into what is expected of them. I found these nuances fascinating and it really helped to flesh out the characters, especially as the narrative progressed and the stakes get higher.

Having a bunch of psychopaths working together is never going to go well. They all know the tricks that are used to lie and divert, so don’t really fully trust each other. Any one of them could be the killer picking those off in the study one by one and as the pressure ramps up so does the action. There are a lot of strands to this book; a serial killer, a bunch of psychopaths, a murder plot and civil rights protests around Washington, but they’re all deftly handled. Kurian weaves these strands together to make an engrossing and clever academic thriller and a hugely enjoyable page turner to boot.

Readers who enjoyed How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie will also enjoy this, it has a very similar vibe and is equally as smart and inventive. Never Saw Me Coming is a wild ride of a book and one which I highly recommend.

Where You Can Buy It

My thanks to Anna Redman Aylward at Vintage for sending me a copy of the book.

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian is out today from Harvill Secker in hardcover, ebook and audiobook.

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