Author: Harlan Coben
Pages: 304 pages
Release Date: September 6th, 2011
Status: 1st book in the Mickey Bolitar series
Synopsis (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.
Shelter by Harlan Coben can be easily described in four words: worth not doing homework. Or in much simpler terms: perfect.
So Shelter is about a 15 year old boy names Mickey Bolitar, a kid who's dad has just died and who's mom just made a mess of her life. He lives with his dad's older brother, Myron Bolitar, and is having a hard time adjusting to a life of a normal American teenager after spending most of his life as a nomad.
The book starts off with Mickey talking about all the things going wrong in his life: his dad dying in a car accident, his mom being in rehab and having a hard time coping, and his (sort of) new girlfriend, Ashley, disappearing out of no where.
While walking to school one day, an old lady nicknames 'Bat Lady' from the town kids steps out of her house and tells him that his dad is alive.
This leads Mickey to believe that there is a chance for his father to be alive (despite the fact that he was in the car at the time of the accident). While dealing with family issues at home, he still has to deal with the sudden disappearance of Ashley. He forms friendships with freshmen and social outcast, Ema, and a nerd called Spoon, who decide to help him solve the mystery of Ashley's disappearance.
However, as Mickey gets closer to the truth, he'll uncover more than his girlfriend's whereabouts.
This book was only 304 pages but was pretty amazing. And awesome. And so totally worth blowing off my math homework and studying for my economics test (until, you know, I get that test back).
Harlan Coben is able to keep you reading and guessing what's going to happen, while keeping the mysteries in Mickey's life alive and plot twisting-there was a couple of plot twists I just didn't see coming!
Let me just say, well done Mr. Coben, well done. I didn't even think I saw what was coming near the end and I'm really glad that I got the sequel, Seconds Away, along with Shelter.
The plot was amazing, and Harlan left many loose ends that I can see just coming together in the future. What I didn't see though, was any backstory information or much world building.
I am used to reading a lot of YA Paranormal, Dystopian, Historical and Fantasy where world building is such a biiiiigggg chunk of the book. Shelter is more YA Action/Thriller/Suspense with a hint of mystery, crime and WWII history thrown into it.
Harlan is able to draw the reader in with witty dialogue (which I LOVE!), and an amazing plot, but for me, I just didn't get that connection to Mickey personally. I understand that he is a nomad and is having a hard time fitting in, his parents are gone, he's estranged with his uncle Myron, but I didn't get a lot of emotion or connection (or maybe because I'm not used to having a guy narrator). He was witty though, and his sarcasm is en pointe so I have to applaud that!
I love, love, love, looooooove the dialogue from some of these characters, ESPECIALLY Spoon! I swear, Spoon (aka Arthur) is the bomb dot com!
"Who are some of the oldest guidance counsellors?"
"Oldest? You mean in age?"
"Mr. Bertz," Spoon said without hesitation. "He's so old he teaches a class on Shakespeare because he knew him personally."
-page 51, Shelter
Harlan Coben got some amazing characters with some amazing lines in here. And sometimes, I just found them so corny, it was hilarious. Normally, in most books, I would be like "Oh my gosh, why would (insert author's name here) put something like that?!" But for some reason, it just works for the book. Even uncle Myron (whom I always imagined to be a womanizer like Alfie) had a corny part in the book that just got me good.
Myron smiled at us like a game show host. "Do you kids want me to make you popcorn?"
"No thanks," I said quickly.
"How about you, little lady?"
Little lady? I wanted to die.
"I'm fine Mr. Bolitar, thank you."
"You can call me Myron."
He was still standing there, smiling like the most pleased jackass. I stared at him, flaring my eyes a little so that he'd catch the hint. He did. Awkwardly. "Oh right," Myron said. "I'll just leave you two alone then. I'm going to head back upstairs, I guess."
Myron pointed up the stairs with his thumb. Like maybe we didn't know where 'upstairs' was.
"Great," I said, hoping to move him along.
Uncle Dork took one step and turned back toward us. "Uh, um, if it's okay-and even if it's not-I'm going to leave the basement door open. It's not alike I don't trust you two, but I think Rachel's parents wouldn't approve-"
"Fine! I said, interrupting him. "Leave the door open."
"Not that I feel like I have to check up on you or anything. I'm sure you're both very responsible teenagers."
I wondered if I would ever in my life feel more mortified. "Thanks, Myron. Bye?"
"If you change your mind about the popcorn-"
"You'll be the first to know," I said. "Bye."
Myron finally headed up the stairs. I turned to Rachel, who was smothering a chuckle.
"I'm sorry about my dorky uncle."
-pages 152-153, Shelter
This is like 100% amazing. These characters are just hilarious! I love this book.
Although, I really wished we got to learn more about Myron and his estranged relationship with Mickey and his parents. It was explained a bit in the book, but I can tell there's something big that I'm missing. Myron is the protagonist of his own series (which consists of 10 books by the way), and in the 10th book, Live Wire, Mickey, his mom Kitty, are introduced. But I feel like I'm missing out on Myron and his Myron-iness and that I really wish we got to know more about him in Shelter. And the same goes for Kitty and Mickey's dad, Brad. There's so much mystery surrounding the family that I just want to fast forward to the part where we get to know what happened (if it isn't already explained in Live Wire or Seconds Away).
Anyway, 3.5 out of 5 stars for Shelter! It's an amazing read, and I really recommended this book! It's amazing, and there isn't any blood or gore, just a teenager with a witty personality, an equally witty uncle, a broken family and broken-yet loyal- friends.