Review: Shelter by Harlan Coben

11701113Shelter (Mickey Bolitar, #1) by Harlan Coben
Published: June 1st 2012 by Orion
Pages: 327

When tragic events tear him away from his parents, fifteen-year-old Mickey Bolitar is sent to live with his estranged uncle, Myron. For a while, it seems his train wreck of a life is finally improving - until his girlfriend, Ashley, goes missing without a trace.

Unwilling to let another person he cares about walk out of his life, Mickey follow Ashley's trail into a seedy underworld, revealing a conspiracy so shocking it will leave him questioning everything the life he thought he knew...

“Its funny how you can let yourself forget for seconds, how even in the heat of the horrible, you can have moments when you fool yourself into thinking it might all be okay”
As our last book to read for English class this school year, I, along with my classmates, was introduced to the thriller genre. I haven't actually read a lot of young-adult books who deal with crime and disappearances, because some of them are a bit predictable. I'm glad to announce that it wasn't actually the case with Shelter. It may have took me a while to finally get into it, yet once I did, it was a fun but cheesy roller coaster straight to the end.

Harlan Coben seems like a master in the thriller genre, when I take a look at how many novels he was already written. Therefore, I did love the amount of action and suspense I encountered. When I first started reading, I honestly did not know what I could expect. The story certainly surprised me along my reading experience, both in a positive and negative way. The twists and turns were very enjoyable and left me craving for more, which turned this book from a slow-starter into a page-turner very quickly. However, some aspects of the plot felt a bit weird to me, as if several elements of other books were thrown together into one. I would be lying if I say I did not love the darkness of the night clubs, the involvement of the Holocaust and some stereotypical high school drama. But a combination of them all still felt a bit weird to me. Above it all, this book contained some very cheesy scenes that could have fitted straight into a typical crime drama. Those scenes when characters suddenly act very strange, say nothing and then leave the main character with even more questions? They are enjoyable and fun, but very cheesy and eye-rolling, too.

A mystery novel is usually that kind of book where the hero solves a big problem with the help of some people. Mickey Bolitar is certainly added up to that 'hero' image, when I finally figured out what a Marty-Stu he was. Everything he seemed to do, was done perfectly. He always got away and always seemed to have a deus ex machina hiding in the bushes. He's beautiful, he's smart, he has talent and together with his tragic past, he should be the kind of character you feel for. After my reality check, I don't. Although he was rarely irritating, it was obvious to me what a special snowflake he actually was.

Moving onto the secondary characters, I found a lot of them to be inspired from the stereotypical environments. For example, you have Mickey's two best friends, the outcasts. Then, the jocks. To complete the picture, there's also the hot girl everyone's in love with. Even the characters we meet later on seemed very flat and one-dimensional to me. However, I liked how these characters made the book a lot lighter. It's fun to sometimes read a story with undeveloped characters, despite my dislike for them. After all, if every one of them was so complex and difficult, I don't think I would have continued reading.

Shelter is, to my surprise, a book I very much enjoyed and the kind I needed to read during my reading slump. I may consider reading the books that follow, because no matter how strange and stereotypical this book might have been, it still was a lot of fun to read.

Aurélie Cremers is an eighteen-year-old living in Belgium. As an active member on Goodreads, Edelweiss and Amazon, she's always spreading her reviews to express her opinion and influences her followers to read the books she fairly enjoyed. When she's not writing, you can find her at her local bookstore or in a classroom. With her blog, "Exploring Pages", Aurélie hopes to gain a larger public in the near future and to continue that what she'll always love doing: writing.

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