Sunday, November 27, 2011

Review: Shelter - Harlan Coben

Shelter by Harlan Coben
Series: Mickey Bolitar #1
Genre: Young Adult, mystery, suspense
Published on September 6, 2011
Published by Putnam
Pages: 304
Read From: 11.17.11 - 11.19.11

A new school comes with new friends and new enemies, and lucky for Mickey, it also comes with a great new girlfriend, Ashley. For a while, it seems like Mickey's train wreck of a life is finally improving - until Ashley vanishes without a trace. Unwilling to let another person walk out of his life, Mickey follows Ashley's trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that this seemingly sweet, shy girl isn't who she claimed to be. And neither was Mickey's father. Soon, Mickey learns about a conspiracy so shocking that it makes high school drama seem like a luxury - and leaves him questioning everything about the life he thought he knew.


One word: wow. I've never read Harlan Coben's books before, but if they're all like Shetler, I'm a fan. From page one all the way to the end, the Reader is kept in absolute suspense. Coben doesn't waste any time in getting into the mystery, and any parts that threaten to drag are immediately interrupted with a new twist that will boggle your mind. Mickey is one of the wittiest adolescent narrators I've encountered in modern literature; I didn't even find his talk about girls annoying, because he did it in such a hilarious manner, poking fun at his patheticness in a way that just makes it impossible for anyone to get totally annoyed with him.

The other characters are surprisingly believable while being very unique. I'm not one for funny and quirky sidekicks (and personally, Spoon creeped me out. He's the type of dude that would probably hack into your computer's camera and watch you undress), and I'll admit, Mickey's "sidekicks" got a little old at times, but I kind of like Ema after a while, and Spoon was just too authentic to be unlikeable. To clarify: I did find Spoon creepy, and I didn't like him, but I didn't hate him either. He was . . . interesting, and scarily realistic. I could imagine running into him at the library (I hope that never happens, though), and for that very reason, I would not ask Harlan Coben to exclude him.

The plotline itself was amazing. As question was piled on top of question, I finally concluded that it was going to end either completely brilliantly, or absolutely weird. I was leaning towards the weird side of things, and I was in for quite a surprise. Harlan Coben connected everything in a way that made absolute sense, but was absolutely unexpected. Who knew he would work Holocaust survivors into it all? When that element got brought into the book, I was lost as to how he was going to make that work, but he did it! Whether things will end up turning weird in the second book, I don't know, but I think Harlan Coben will continue to do an amazing job.

There's not content to really report. At one point in the book, Mickey has to bust into a 21-or-older bar that has go-go girls, but Mickey doesn't give us any details about the thinly-clad girls, only to say that they weren't wearing much, and when Ema and another girl audition to become go-go girls in order to serve as a distraction so Mickey can do something, we don't get any nasty details with that, either. Amazingly, a modern author has actually managed to write clean go-go dance club scenes! He even keeps a scene where Mickey finds his mom passed out on drugs clean.

Shelter is, without a doubt, one of the better thrillers/suspense/mystery type books I've read (but I haven't read many, so for those thriller junkies out there who are rolling your eyes at my enthusiasm, give me some slack). There is a previous book to this one where Mickey is first introduced - it is an adult book, and Shelter seems to make some alludements to previous events in that one, but I didn't get the feeling that it's necessary to read that one before you delve into Shelter (which I hope you'll do sometime soon). Way to go Harlan Coben!

Others in the Mickey Bolitar Series:
2)Seconds Away

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