book review

Shelter by Harlan Coben

GoodreadsMickey 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.


My mom is a huge fan of Harlan Coben and told me to read this book before she gave it to my nephews. I have never read the Myron Bolitar series this is the spin off to, so I’m sorry I can’t compare the two.

The Characters: 

  • Mickey: Has lived his life all over the world. The synopsis says other important info.
  • Ema: Her real name is Emma, but because she dresses alternative, she goes by Ema (like Emo). She’s also overweight. I’ve noticed that goth/emo kids are almost always overweight in books… Why is this?
  • Spoon: Creepy and quirky nerd. His dad is the janitor of the school, so he has a set of keys and helps Mickey with his investigations. To be honest, he kind of gave me school shooter vibes.
  • Rachel: Beautiful popular “it” girl, has a crush on Mickey.
  • Ashley: Mickey’s missing girlfriend
  • Myron: Like I said above, I never read the Myron Bolitar series, but in this book he’s the typical hardly there adult always found in YA.
  • Bat Lady: Mysterious old lady who told Mickey his father is alive (even though he saw him die) and to find Ashley.

And then there’s some stereotypical high school jock bullies. All the characters are very one-dimensional.

The Plot:

There are two mysteries in this book. 1) What happened to Ashley, and 2) why is The Bat Lady saying Mickey’s dad is still alive? That was enough intrigue for me to push through the unbearably cheesy and often times annoying dialogue between Mickey and his misfit friends. I don’t know if I got used to it, or if it got better as the story progressed, but the dialogue wasn’t as annoying as it was the first part of the book.

The resolve to the mystery regarding Ashley would be something I’d expect from a new adult book (college age/18+), not high school sophomores (15/16 years old). It just felt very unrealistic to me that teenagers in a small down would experience this.

The Bat Lady thing was kind of WTF. It was interesting at first, then the date this book is takes place and WW2 events started to bother me.

I plan on reading the second book sometime before Christmas.

Book Trailer:


2 thoughts on “Shelter by Harlan Coben

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