Review: Never Miss by Melissa Koslin
#1 This is a long review, so pull up a chair and grab a bowl of popcorn. You’ll be here awhile. #2 When I read a review, I want substantial information. So I will not skimp on the details. Which may mean some spoilers, so watch out.
Synopsis: When Kadance Tolle, an ex-CIA sniper, saves Dr. Lyndon Vaile’s life, she gets pulled into a plot to wipe out billions of people—and back into her old life. Will they make it out alive?
Favorite Quote: “‘If you do something like that again, I will find out.’ She paused. ‘And I will come back and kill you.’” (And, yes, I chose that one as my favorite because I cracked up when I read it. I know—I have a morbid sense of humor.)
I have a confession to make.
I decided to read Never Miss because of that amazing cover—even though I’ve just recovered from a hit-and-miss with romantic suspense last month. The concept of this novel sounded very intriguing and more up my alley, also.
From Page 1, I was intrigued. Never quite captivated, but intrigued. The story started off with a bang—don’t all suspense novels?—but the characters were presented and developed well earlier on. I was able to understand them and see them vividly throughout the story. Granted, Kadance was more vibrant than Lyndon, and, believe it or not, I actually liked her better. (Which isn’t always a good sign.)
I liked how Koslin dumbed things down for laymen like myself. (Laywomen? Laygirls? Layteens? Laypeople?) Kadance and Lyndon had their unique talents (I mean, the dude had three doctorates by thirty) and skill sets, but it was always easy to comprehend and envision what they were doing and how they operated. She didn’t over-hype anything to the point where things were confusing and chock-full of unnecessary information. Instead, all of the facts and information were carefully interwoven into the story and dialogue, which made everything seem so much more realistic.
The concept has probably been done before, but in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the idea of a corrupt power attempting to unleash a virus to wipe out the greater portion of the world is seen in a new light. Also gave me a lot of Infinity War and Hitler vibes. You know, balance and purity and all.
So, yes, I enjoyed the plot, even though it got to be a little disconcerting at times. (Don’t know if y’all listen to any conspiracy theories out there, but, uh, there’s more to them than just fodder for good suspense novels.)
The pacing was spectacular, in my opinion. It ended way too abruptly (I gotta have some hope for the future, man!), but the rest of the novel flowed so smoothly. There were lulls when there needed to be lulls and fast-paced excited when that was needed too. Inconsistent pacing is only ever a good thing with romantic suspense, because it allows for great character and plot development in the midst of all the turmoil.
Inconsistent writing, however, is never a good thing.
In the first few chapters, the overall quality of the writing wasn’t very high. Now, there were no typos, cosmetic issues, or technical errors at all—but you know how some writing just feels good, while others don’t? Some writers just have that smooth voice, that gentle cadence, that unique slant to their prose that makes the story a million times more enthralling. That was missing from Never Miss.
Maybe that’s a good thing, since it allowed me to focus more on just what was happening in the book than savoring the words. But I still think there was something missing—some punch or pizzazz—that would’ve taken the story over the top.
In the end, my reasons for knocking off two stars are purely personal.
#1 I didn’t really like Lyndon, as a hero. He was unique, and real, and human—and I liked that—but he just didn’t appeal to me.
#2 The faith elements were nonexistent. Now, there was logical spirituality (can that even be a thing?), almost what I would call Christian science, apart from the Scientology connotations, of course. Lyndon’s views of God are great if you’re just transitioning from being an atheist to a Christian—helps put things into perspective. But faith? The substance of things hoped for and evidence of things unseen? Nothing. Zilch. Nada.
I honestly think the religious elements should have been omitted entirely, since it had no impact whatsoever. Even Kadance never came to any firm conclusion about God. This is a travesty to me, that we would dilute the Creator of the universe to fit the small box on our checklist of story elements. He is so much more than that, and you can either have all of Him or none of Him—not just “enough to suit.”
#3 Lyndon, a “Christian,” (I use quotes because of my point above), kept casually cussing. Now, the words weren’t written out, but the occasional mention of “he cursed” upset me. Not because I don’t condone the use of such euphemisms or because I don’t think including them helps accurately portray the human nature—I do the same thing all the time. But simply because our goody-two-shoes hero would just throw the d-word around in a casual conversation. Like, who does that? My mom could make a sailor’s ears turn red when she’s in a temper, but she doesn’t just walk around cussing for no reason.
#4 The romance was kind of just...physical. Now, y’all know if I say it, it must be bad, because I rarely ever have qualms about sexual tension and all. But when that’s all you’ve got? You can kiss that relationship goodbye. Lyndon and Kadance had a friendship with the benefits of a few lusty looks and a couple kisses—where was the emotion? Where was the soul-deep connection? Where was the dancing in the moonlight and the lovesick moping and the botched-up proposals and the nervous blushing and the beautiful poetry of a romance?
Ach, lost in the sea of suspense, it was. One day, I’d like to see someone write a romance worthy of a mood board and a fandom and seamlessly combine it with a suspense worthy of a movie and a James Patterson endorsement. (And, yes, I know I could do that myself, but that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?)
Anyway, I said these were personal pet peeves. I think what romance there was was well-done, since I could see it all unfold and not just have a sudden romantic relationship dumped on top of me out of nowhere. I was just missing a lot of emotional and spiritual connection, in multiple respects.
Long story short, there are a lot of good things to Never Miss. It was better developed than most romantic suspense (although I still think the ending was a little rushed and abrupt). It was a quick, fast-paced read. It was interesting—I mean, I finished it! That’s gotta count for something, right?
But there were also areas in which Never Miss was lacking—mostly the subplots. I understand entwining so many different elements into one story is difficult, but I do expect more out of traditionally published authors. I don’t know, I guess it seems to me than trad publishers are lowering their standards—to combat self- and indie-publishing? To expand their horizons? To make more money? I don’t know, but I do know that more and more I see self-published authors with stories of higher quality than traditionally published authors—and I’m not speaking about myself this time.
Pardon the rant. Never Miss was exciting and enjoyable. Yeah, it wasn’t perfect, but it may suit you just fine!
Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
Melissa Koslin is a fourth-degree black belt in and certified instructor of Songahm Taekwondo. In her day job as a commercial property manager, she secretly notes personal quirks and funny situations, ready to tweak them into colorful additions for her books. She and Corey, her husband of twenty years, live in Florida, where they do their best not to melt in the sun.