The Never Game Review

The Never Game Review | Jeffery Deaver

Jeffery Deaver is a name I’ve come across a few times, but haven’t ever read any of his work before. I’ve been looking forward to a good thriller, and this one did not disappoint. A gripping plot, interesting characters and it left me wanting to read more from this author. Here’s my review on The Never Game.

Publisher: HarperCollins | Date: 2019 | Genre: Thriller

Plot: “You have been abandoned.”

A young woman has gone missing in Silicon Valley and her father has hired Colter Shaw to find her. The son of a survivalist family, Shaw is an expert tracker. Now he makes a living as a “reward seeker,” traveling the country to help police solve crimes and private citizens locate missing persons. But what seems a simple investigation quickly thrusts him into the dark heart of America’s tech hub and the cutthroat billion-dollar video-gaming industry.

“Escape if you can.”

When another victim is kidnapped, the clues point to one video game with a troubled past–The Whispering Man. In that game, the player has to survive after being abandoned in an inhospitable setting with five random objects. Is a madman bringing the game to life?

“Or die with dignity.”

Shaw finds himself caught in a cat-and-mouse game, risking his own life to save the victims even as he pursues the kidnapper across both Silicon Valley and the dark ‘net. Encountering eccentric game designers, trigger-happy gamers and ruthless tech titans, he soon learns that he isn’t the only one on the hunt: someone is on his trail and closing fast.

I received The Never Game from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Never Game Review

I’ve had too many mysteries let me down recently, so I took a break. I thought it was time to get back to the genre.

The Never Game by Jeffrey Deaver was a welcoming return.

Although he has written a lot, The Never Game is my first by Deaver and I was curious what his style and story-telling were like. I didn’t have high expectations (too many mystery disappointments) but I enjoyed the book.

There have been several occasions where a mystery hasn’t worked because the main character is hard to connect with. Colter Shaw, however, is a great protagonist. He collects rewards for a living, but has morals, a conscience and a heart, never once making you feel he just does it for the money.


The story starts at the end, with Shaw attempting to rescue the final victim. From the first chapter, you get a feel of what sort of man he is: one who will not give up, regardless of the cost. He’s stubborn and determined and while he initially seems emotionally detached, other characters get through his defences and you witness a more vulnerable side to him.

Shaw is a survivalist, having been brought up in the middle of nowhere. While his family come across as eccentric, they are not dysfunctional. Glimpses into Shaw’s childhood not only provide the underlying mystery, other than the kidnappings he’s attempting to solve, but also a bigger picture: something happened to his father and Shaw wants to know what.

There’s not character development per se, but you do get to know him as the book progresses, seeing his flaws and strengths. He’s an easily likeable character and you’re on his side.

There is a little-discussed aspect of survivalism that some people call destiny and some call fate and some, the more earthbound, call coincidence.


The plot itself is engaging: there are multiple moments of misdirection – several times I thought I had it figured out, only to be wrong. The crimes – three kidnappings and one murder – send Shaw in various directions and introduce him to a number of people.

The crimes have strong links back to gaming. Knowing nothing about gaming meant I was dubious, but you get the feel of how important it is to these characters, understanding some of the terminology but never feeling overwhelmed by a topic that is motive rather than anything else.


You get the sense throughout this is the first book in what will be a longer series. The job Shaw takes on in this book comes to a neat end rather than an ambiguous cliff-hanger, but also introduces the bigger danger in a way that wants you to keep reading.

I liked that this particular crime is solved within one book. There are, however, some great secondary characters introduced, especially Detective Standish, a female officer who dreams big and wins Shaw’s respect. There’s the beginning of a friendship there and the start of a partnership. I hope some of these secondary characters continue into the next book rather than a reset every time.

Final Thoughts

An engaging and strong book. I’ll definitely be looking for more of the series.

Have you read anything by Jeffery Deaver? Does this sound like your sort of book?

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18 thoughts on “The Never Game Review | Jeffery Deaver

  1. Thanks. Love Deaver. I’ll need lots of books now that I can’t leave the house for four months.


    • I have been so into mysteries lately! It’s always great when an author can introduce a reader to something like gaming without overwhelming them! Thanks for the review!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never read any Jeffrey Deaver and TBH it’s not really my genre but I like the sound of the characters. Also that the end leaves you wanting to read more – always a good sign with any book! I hope any subsequent novels in the series live up to this strong start 🙂 Lisa


  3. I read a short by Jeffrey Deaver last month and that was my first if his. I wasn’t that keen on the writing style but perhaps that was because it was a short. This seems to have much better characters and I can only assume that’s because there’s more room for development. I might have to pick up a full book and give him another go. I’m glad this one didn’t disappoint x


    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh perhaps – this was my first so I can’t compare but I did like the backstories etc in this that rounded out the characters so maybe that doesn’t work as well in a short?


  4. Thanks for the review. I haven’t read a ton of thrillers but this one sounds really good. An engaging story with unpredictable plot twists sounds awesome. I’m not a gamer either, so glad that wasn’t a big issue in reading this book.


  5. This sounds like such an interesting thriller and I’m definitely intrigued by the synopsis and especially the links to the tech business and gaming. I’m definitely going to be adding this to my TBR, thank you for such an engaging and honest review x


  6. Great review. Like you I haven’t read any Deaver and don’t know the gaming world but now I’m adding this to my TBR list


  7. I haven’t read any of Deaver’s books before but this sounds interesting. It reminds me a little of Saw so maybe I’ll give this a chance. I’ve yet to really enjoy thrillers! xD

    Daisy xoxo


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