Tag Archives: thriller

Shelter by Harlan Coben

I’m always a bit skeptical when adult authors try their hand at writing children’s or young adult’s books.  Some authors get it spot on and write a fantastic story that will hold the attention of children or teenagers, but others get it horribly wrong.  I’ve never read a Harlan Coben book before so I can’t compare it to his adult books, but he’s one of those authors that have got it spot on.  Shelter is an engrossing read that hooks you right from the first sentence and doesn’t let go.

The main character, Mickey Bolitar, is the nephew of Myron Bolitar, the protagonist in his adult novels.  The story starts off with a bang, when the neighbourhood crazy, the Bat Lady, reveals to Mickey that his father isn’t dead as he believed.  Mickey doesn’t understand how this is possible when he watched him die.  When Mickey tries discover what the Bat Lady knows, the mystery just seems to deepen.  Who is the Bat Lady and how does she know so much about him?  Then there’s the mystery of his girlfriend’s disappearance.  One day Ashley is there and the next she has vanished without a trace – no note, no text, nothing.  Mickey follows Ashley’s trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that she wasn’t the girl he thought he knew.

Shelter draws you in and doesn’t let you go, even after the cliff-hanger finale.  Harlan Coben keeps you in suspense the whole way and you have to keep reading to see how it ends. You immediately route for Mickey and hope that he’ll get out alive and you want Spoon and Ema to be your friends too.  Both Spoon and Ema are great characters and added humour to the story right when it was needed.  They’re both incredibly loyal and willing to do anything they can to help Mickey in his hunt for the truth.  Harlan Coben said in an interview that he wanted to create a ‘Lost’ type mythology in the series and this is something I loved about Shelter.  I felt that it was a very similar type of story to John Connolly’s Charlie Parker novels because of this dark, almost supernatural vibe.  I also thought that it was a very similar story to John Green’s Paper Towns, because of the search for his girlfriend and the supporting characters.  The very last line is, as Harlan Coben has said, a real kick to the guts.  It’s such a cliff-hanger and made me want to read the second book straight away.  Unfortunately I’ll probably have to wait a year to get my hands on it.   One thing’s for sure, I’ll get it as soon as it’s released and in the mean time, I’ll try some of his Myron Bolitar novels.

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Flip by Martyn Bedford

Have you ever wished you were someone else, with a completely different life, a new face, a new family?  In Martyn Bedford’s new book Flip, Alex wakes up to find himself in a strange bedroom in an unfamiliar house, in a different part of the country.  The woman calling out to him is not his mother and the strangers sitting at the breakfast table aren’t his father or his sister.  Alex gets the shock of his life when he looks in the mirror – the face staring back at him is not his either.  Is this just a really bad dream or has something terrifying happened to him?

He discovers that the body he now inhabits is that of Philip Garramond (or Flip to his friends), a boy who is almost the complete opposite of Alex.  Flip is sporty, fit and popular with the girls (something that Alex has never experienced before).  Alex’s initial reaction is to deny that this is actually happening to him, but the more time he spends in Flip’s body the more it seems he’s stuck in this new body.  He attempts to contact his parents and returns to his old home, but he’s in Flip’s body so nobody recognises him and he ends up distressing his old family and friends.  Alex is determined to find answers and trawls the web for information, leaving his details on various blogs and forums.  He finally gets a message from someone called Rob, who leads him to a website about psychic evacuation.  This site provides him with the answers he’s been searching for about his condition, and when he meets Rob in person he starts to come to terms with life as Flip.  However, Alex holds onto the hope that he can return to his own body and he decides there is only one way to do that.  It’s a huge risk and it’s something that he can never undo.

From the very first page, I was swept up in Alex’s story.  Martyn Bedford keeps the reader hanging, wondering whether Alex will accept his new life as Flip or try to get his old life back.  The tension builds right up to the end and the thrilling climax.  Alex is a really interesting and likeable character who I could really empathise with.  I know if it were me in his shoes, I’d be determined to get back to my family and my old life.  I found myself really wanting to take my time reading Flip because there was so much more to the story than Alex wanting to find out what happened.  There is a lot of discussion between Alex and other characters about the nature of the soul/psyche which added to the story, making it have more of an impact on me as a reader.  Flip is an excellent first YA novel by Martyn Bedford and I’ll look forward to reading more by him.

Recommended for 14+      9 out of 10

Check out the amazing book trailer too:

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