In the opening of his latest novel, “Never,” Ken Follett notes that, while researching “The Fall of the Giants,” the first book in his massive 20th century trilogy, he was shocked to find that the First World War was the “war no one wanted.”
Rulers, people and nations didn’t want this to happen but step by step Europe and then the world turned to war and then discovered too late that they were all mired in one of the most difficult conflicts. bloodiest in history.
“I came to believe it was all a tragic accident,” Follett writes. “And I asked myself, could this happen again?
Follett’s chilling reflections form the basis of “Never,” a novel about the United States, China, North and South Korea, and the Middle East teetering on nuclear war.
As he has done in his previous novels, Follett creates likable characters to advance his plot. Readers meet the first female president of the United States; two intelligence officers who fall in love while representing different nations; an American agent infiltrated in the Middle East; a Chinese intelligence officer who is the son of an even higher ranking Chinese government officer.
Each of these characters face personal dilemmas and office / government politics as well as international politics that are beginning to bury them in a growing series of violent incidents.
As fictional president Pauline Green says in the book and in the cover blurb, “Every disaster starts with a little problem that can’t be fixed. “
Through these characters, Follett unfolds his suspenseful plot about a possible nuclear armageddon that seems far too real.
Given Follett’s penchant for writing massive, epic historical fiction – “The Pillars of the Earth” and its sequels; “Fall of Giants” and its two sequels, it leaves readers guessing until the end of “Never’s” 800 pages if it will end in this one volume.
In order not to be a spoiler, readers will have to open “Never” to find out. As with the previous Follett books, the pages scroll. The suspense lasts until the last sentence.