Never Saw Me Coming is a thriller set on a college campus, as a girl plotting to kill someone finds herself in danger when a string of murders occur. Chloe is a first year student who looks normal, likes parties, and is taking premed classes, but she’s also part of a secret clinical study of young psychopaths run by the psychology department. She’s also plotting to kill Will Bachman, another student at the college. However, when other people—rumoured to also be part of the study—start being murdered, Chloe might also be under threat, and she might have to try and find some allies in the other study participants.
I was drawn in by the campus setting, and it works well by giving a typical backdrop to a very atypical situation. The book is split into chapters, either narrated by Chloe or third person narration focused on a few of the other characters, which feels typical of this kind of thriller, especially when you’re not sure who to trust as everyone is manipulative or lying in some way. This structure occasionally gives some nice payoffs too, and insight into how the characters view each other. The actual plotlines are quite straightforward, but they are gripping and a bit of ‘true crime podcast’ type vibe to them (I assume, I don’t do true crime podcasts).
I will say that I can’t appraise the “psychopath” stuff or anything said about the study or those involved as I don’t know anything about psychology, but it did feel like it did the serial killer thriller thing of making a lot of bold pronouncements about types of people (and occasional stereotypes about mental health). The study is, for a lot of the plot, more of a conceit than something that is looked at in depth, however, and mostly it’s an escapist campus thriller with some antihero characters.
As ever, I find it hard to read a thriller with this kind of American setting without mentioning Point Horror, and as I loved the ‘Nightmare Hall’ books back in the day, I was hoping on an up-to-date, possibly a bit less trashy update to those, and Never Saw Me Coming did deliver on that, as a book that plays on the stereotypical college girl with Chloe and also goes for rich frat boys as well. Not necessarily a nuanced book, but a ridiculous serial killer thriller with a college setting.