Shelter by Harlan Coben

Challenge 16 – “A book by an author you love but haven’t read yet.”


★ ★ ★ ★ ★

When browsing the library last summer, I accidentally picked up the second in this series, not realising it, but was thankful to find an exciting read that stood alone. I found myself invested, however, in the characters and plot, so Shelter soon found its way onto my to-read list. It too is a stand alone, but combined with the series is also a powerful component. Again, Coben manages to maintain a perfect combination of plot, backplot and action scenes to not only keep the reader interested and informed, but also educated on the well-researched factual information embedded into the story.

From the offset the reader is engaged in the story, and unlike the first in many a series, Coben introduces the characters, universe and plotlines whilst actively engaging the reader with suspense, adrenaline and humour. For that reason, some readers may be put off – those that prefer the world to be illustrated before them before they venture in – but for others, the novel immediately becomes a page turner, with not a moment of fallen momentum until they hit the end. This is, of course, aided by the writing, which captures the mindset of an American teenage boy extremely well (at least, as far as I can tell!). The first-person narration involves the reader further, drawing them into the plot and focusing their attention on the action Coben narrates, thus distracting them from piecing together the conundrum before the protagonist begins to make the links – a clever (and, yes, commonly attempted) method to reduce predictability.

Coben also demonstrates his great characterisation throughout the novel. The description of physical attributes allows the reader to create an in-depth image, flourished by the internal characteristics. These are introduced gradually, and sometimes suaded by the narration, providing opportunities for plot twists at the drop of a hat. The use of flashback scenes also enables the reader to gain a history of the characters, and the limited use of middle-ground characters allows the reader to connect with the characters on a deeper level than could otherwise be obtained.

To conclude, an incredible read that sets a clear path for a breathtaking series – it’s certainly not your typical young adult book. With a breathless blend of action, mystery and thrill, incorporating real-world issues and well-researched historical knowledge into a novel, Coben creates a tale I would recommend to all, particularly those looking for a bit of action in their lives.

Recommended for fans of:

  • The Young Bond Series by Charles Higson
  • The Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz
  • The Jimmy Coates Series by Joe Craig

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