Harlan Coben is one of my favorite authors and has now branched out into the YA genre.
The character of Mickey is a likeable 15 year old with a unique blend of friends. Mickey has an unusual upbringing and never seems like a high school age student, but I can picture his friends, Spoon and Ema in any high school setting. Most of the book is a traditional mystery/thriller that takes Mickey and his friends in search of his missing girlfriend, Ashley. There are strange happenings around an old house and rumors that a mysterious “bat lady” lives there. Later in the book I thought the story got a little choppy and a holocaust connection seemed too contrived, but the story is engaging and entertaining.
I have read several Coben books, but none with these characters. The character of Mickey’s uncle, Myron, is in other Coben adult thrillers, but unfortunately in Shelter he was just a name with little character development which made him seem cold and indifferent. The characters Spoon and Ema were both interesting and likeable, especially Ema as the outcast in high school.
I would recommend the book for young adults, but not for children. The plot contains quite a bit of violence and takes Mickey to strip clubs.
In a good book series, each book should also be a standalone with a plot that can expand into the next book. Each book should also have a satisfying ending, and that is where I think Shelter fell a little short. I liked that at the end of Shelter there were new questions about Mickey’s father that will be picked up in the next book, but I was disappointed that there were questions about Ema and other characters that were asked – but never answered in this book.