Mike's Reviews > Shelter

Shelter by Harlan Coben
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's review
Aug 09, 12

bookshelves: young-adult, mystery, reviewed
Read in July, 2011

An impulsive, hot-headed teen of roughly sixteen years of age moves in with his hated Uncle after his father’s death and his mother’s unavailability due to stay at rehap center. The youngster, Mickey, joins his Uncle’s household on the condition that his uncle would not interfere with him.

It would appear that the mother and father “were like one, their love was so strong.” Without the male half, the female half turned to drugs. So, the book begins with a young man facing a dead father, a junkie mother, living with his hated uncle, and a missing girlfriend.

I admit that, while I read the prior book Mickey Boltiar was in, Live Wire, and knew that this was the start of a new series, a young adult series, following Mickey Boltiar, I admit that I forgot. I spent the first chapter or two thinking I was reading Myron Boltiar as a kid. That's what Robert B. Parker did when he had a young adult series. Had it follow a young Spenser. The facts were not lining up for it to be a young Myron and I quickly remembered. Oh, just to give myself a little cover, Mickey Boltiar's real first name is Myron Boltiar, with Mickey being his nickname.

Once I got past that little stumble on my part, the early tinge of annoyance dropped away. Well, there were cell phones and the like. Obvious indications this was a present day story. And Myron Boltiar would by no means have grown up with cell phones and other modern day items. Despite my earlier awareness, months ago - quickly forgotten - when I started the book I forgot that it was a young nephew Mickey and not uncle Myron who was the lead. Reminded me of the James Bond reboot, where they put him conducting his first mission, Casino Royale, in roughly modern days. Then, of course, I remembered. Right, repeating myself.

There is a certain . . . thinness to the book. Oh, it is a full thick plot, but . . . something feels . . . thin about the book. I couldn't imagine myself doing the things at the age of 15-16 that Mickey did, but then, Mickey is six four, athletic, and filled with the knowledge gained from growing up around the world. Plus, he knows advanced martial arts. I suppose, in a way, after describing Mickey, I am somewhat surprised he had as hard of a time as he did, to push through to the conclusion of this book.

The book starts with Mickey heading off to his new school. Or remembering. The first part is slightly confused as there is a mixture of “this happened two weeks ago, this is happening right now” that clouds the time line. Well, he is off to his new school. First he befriends an outcast. He nicknames this fella Spoon, for the simple act, on Spoon’s part, of Spoon walking up to Mickey and asking if Mickey wanted to use his spoon. Mickey also befriends a female outcast named Ema, a heavily tattooed, overweight, pierced young woman.

The three youngsters decide to join forces on the case of Mickey’s missing girlfriend, Ashley Kent. Spoon is the less fully developed, character-wise. Spending time spouting odd little bits of fact, though that comes in handy when some of his obsession helps move the case forward. Mickey is more fully developed character than he was in the first book he appeared in, Live Wire. And Myron, the uncle, star of many books in his own series, is there, but not really part of the action.

A quick read. While there’s this odd thin feeling, Coben’s first young adult novel is fully formed. Though the epilogue kind of ends abruptly. Will I read another book in this series (if it is a series, no further books has, as of yet, appeared)? Yes. Do I eagerly await its appearance? No.
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