I’m always a bit skeptical when adult authors try their hand at writing children’s or young adult’s books. Some authors get it spot on and write a fantastic story that will hold the attention of children or teenagers, but others get it horribly wrong. I’ve never read a Harlan Coben book before so I can’t compare it to his adult books, but he’s one of those authors that have got it spot on. Shelter is an engrossing read that hooks you right from the first sentence and doesn’t let go.
The main character, Mickey Bolitar, is the nephew of Myron Bolitar, the protagonist in his adult novels. The story starts off with a bang, when the neighbourhood crazy, the Bat Lady, reveals to Mickey that his father isn’t dead as he believed. Mickey doesn’t understand how this is possible when he watched him die. When Mickey tries discover what the Bat Lady knows, the mystery just seems to deepen. Who is the Bat Lady and how does she know so much about him? Then there’s the mystery of his girlfriend’s disappearance. One day Ashley is there and the next she has vanished without a trace – no note, no text, nothing. Mickey follows Ashley’s trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that she wasn’t the girl he thought he knew.
Shelter draws you in and doesn’t let you go, even after the cliff-hanger finale. Harlan Coben keeps you in suspense the whole way and you have to keep reading to see how it ends. You immediately route for Mickey and hope that he’ll get out alive and you want Spoon and Ema to be your friends too. Both Spoon and Ema are great characters and added humour to the story right when it was needed. They’re both incredibly loyal and willing to do anything they can to help Mickey in his hunt for the truth. Harlan Coben said in an interview that he wanted to create a ‘Lost’ type mythology in the series and this is something I loved about Shelter. I felt that it was a very similar type of story to John Connolly’s Charlie Parker novels because of this dark, almost supernatural vibe. I also thought that it was a very similar story to John Green’s Paper Towns, because of the search for his girlfriend and the supporting characters. The very last line is, as Harlan Coben has said, a real kick to the guts. It’s such a cliff-hanger and made me want to read the second book straight away. Unfortunately I’ll probably have to wait a year to get my hands on it. One thing’s for sure, I’ll get it as soon as it’s released and in the mean time, I’ll try some of his Myron Bolitar novels.