Review of Shelter by Harlan Coben

This book did not meet my expectations at all. I probably went in with too many of them, but I was disappointed with the story as a whole. It was quite a chore to keep reading. As a Christ follower, I would not recommend this to any of the youth I work with. As I read, I like to try and notice truth and redemptive themes in a book, and there just wasn’t much here. I’m not too familiar with the Bolitar series by Coben, but I guess this YA book connects with his adult fiction in some way.

Mickey Bolitar, loses his father to a car wreck and his mother to substance abuse. Because of all this tragedy, he basically takes care of himself, and we get to follow him as he survives high school and uncovers a mystery. Coben tells us all about Mickey’s struggle, but never really lets the reader enter in. I just felt like an observer throughout the book. I wish Coben would have shown more of the inner struggle inside Mickey’s heart. He just reacts to stuff that happens.

Also, I am very concerned with how belief in God and respect of adults is portrayed in a children’s novel, and this particular story showed neither of these in a positive light. It’s not that there was anything horrible, but it seems like Mickey is left to his own instincts and feelings, which is a bad place to be. There’s gotta be some outside standard or moral. “Telling us to obey instinct is like telling us to obey “people.” People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war…. Each instinct, if you listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest….” C.S. Lewis. Mickey seems pretty lost at the outset, and I felt he wasn’t any closer to any truth in the end. Any truth that mattered at least.

For any parents or teens out there that were wondering about this one, I would go elsewhere. Comment if you would like to know more.


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