“Like always, she pretended the pain wasn’t there, hadn’t ever been there. If she didn’t pretend, she’d never survive. And if her training had taught her anything other than how to kill, it was how to survive.”
Categorizing this novel proves to be challenging, as it has an amalgamation of elements that all blend together into one taut thriller. It is equal parts suspense and romance, with intrigue, a military component, and psychological twists thrown in to make things even more interesting. I would be hard-pressed to recall another book like it that I have read, and I am planning to read the author’s next book, a sneak peek of which appears at the end of this one.
For a debut, Never Miss aims high and hits the mark. Melissa Koslin demonstrates an impressive ability not only to craft an exhilarating plot, but also to create quirky, sympathetic characters that in most settings would seem aloof yet fit ideally into their roles here. In fact, despite not being much of a romance fan and accustomed to glossing over those scenes, in this novel I found my heartstrings tugged and at times outright wrenched. I felt able to identify with the characters, Kadance Tolle and Lyndon Vaile, on the basis of being the odd one out most of the time, not really fitting in with any groups of people, and living a solitary life. I appreciate how Koslin writes them as complements to each other but does not make their relationship a completely linear journey. Their complexity and neurodivergence is what sets them on the path of preventing a bioweapons attack, and as the plot unfolds and they learn more about each other, the story only becomes more compelling.
Admittedly, reading about the lethal Ebola virus as a synthetically-produced bioweapon while the Covid-19 pandemic is ongoing may seem like overkill, but, in my opinion at least, Never Miss does not concentrate on the biological or medical details as much as it does on the personal development of the characters and their interactions. Theirs is the storyline that dominated my attention, and Koslin digs deeply into the psyche of each, unearthing their unconventional childhoods and their skill-honing years since. I thought that both Kadance and Lyndon were fascinating, despite how improbable their characters were with regard to abilities. Mac the Maine Coon fit in perfectly, and while I am a dog person, I loved Mac’s character, especially since it was often more canine than feline.
As for the faith element, it exists largely in the background, a “show-don’t-tell” aspect of the story that I might have been disappointed by had Koslin not already set up the framework for why it is this way. Without giving anything away, I will say that it again comes down to the characters. I do love that the author is not afraid to take on the fact that science and Christianity are not mutually exclusive, and that the Bible confirms this. Lyndon sums it up when he says, “For me, Jesus is more than logical. His teachings do make the world a better place—you can find empirical evidence for that. But even stronger than that, for me, is that his teachings reflect who I want to be. I probably fail more than I succeed, but I keep trying.”
Readers who enjoy high-octane adventures full of twists and clean romance, with at times questionable plausibility that makes the story all the more entertaining will devour this debut novel from Melissa Koslin.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was under no obligation to post a positive review. All opinions are my own.
My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥
Buy your copy HERE