Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shelter by Harlan Coben

Shelter by Harlan Coben
Putnam Juvenile, September 6, 2011
Read for 2011 Debut Author Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:
Mickey Bolitar's year can't get much worse. After witnessing his father's death and sending his mom to rehab, he's forced to live with his estranged uncle Myron and switch high schools.
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.
First introduced to readers in Harlan Coben's latest adult novel, Live Wire, Mickey Bolitar is as quick-witted and clever as his uncle Myron, and eager to go to any length to save the people he cares about. With this new series, Coben introduces an entirely new generation of fans to the masterful plotting and wry humor that have made him an award-winning, internationally bestselling, and beloved author.
I am a big fan of Harlan Coben. He hails from NJ, most of his adult mysteries are based in NJ, and, what's best of all, they are actually good mysteries. While he does have a series revolving around sports-agent-turned sleuth Myron Bolitar, Coben also has the ability to write stand alone novels that are fresh and unpredictable. He also doesn't feel the need to publish thirteen less-than-stellar novels a year, but instead publishes one, maybe two, awesome books (you know, quality over quantity), so kudos to him!

And naturally I was beyond ecstatic to learn that Coben was venturing into the world of young adult literature. What I loved about Shelter is that it really is a Harlan Coben novel, just with the point of view of a 15 year old boy. It will hold the attention and interest of parents, grandparents, and teens (especially boys, I think) alike.

Coben has crafted an entire world around his newest character, Mickey. Until recently, Mickey has been traveling the world with his do-good parents, and has only recently (and reluctantly) come to be a part of Myron's life. Longtime Coben readers will chuckle to read Myron being described by Mickey as a softy. While Myron is off doing whatever it is he does, Mickey is left to navigate the halls of yet another new school. This time around, however, he manages to make some friends (and enemies). Unbeknownest to him, Mickey also starts to follow in his uncle's footsteps as he tries to discover the whereabouts of his almost-girlfriend Ashley.

This is not a novel I'd hand over to just anyone, however. I think most teens ages 15 and up would be able to handle the violence. I don't recall any over-the-top language, but there may have been some. And while much of the novel takes place in a strip club, little to no nudity or sex is present. The setting is necessary for the plot but Coben doesn't use it any more than absolutely necessary.

The character development is stellar in this novel. Mickey and his friends Ema and Spoon are a motley crew, but their dedication to each other comes across loud and clear. We're not given all the answers to any of the many mysteries in this novel, so obviously this is the first of a series. I'm OK with that, though, because I know Harlan Coben is a master storyteller and I know all the answers will come in time.

Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!

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