“Shelter” A Book for the Reluctant Teen Reader.

shelter

Recently I mentioned that crime writing was trending in the YA genre. So I have been sleuthing, researching and investigating a few of these novels. The first one I picked up was Peter Cocks Long Reach, I found it totally unsuitable for the 14-18 age group. It was graphic and read more like an adult crime novel.

The next novel I chose was by the well- respected crime writer Harlan Coben he has turned his hand to YA with a new crime series. The first is called Shelter.

The first thing I must mention is cliché, cliché, and cliché.

Next thing I will say is it works.

Despite the cliché use of the new kid in school, dorky best friends, and parent departed. The novel is page-turning fun. I recently wrote a post about dyslexia and a reluctant reader and how this affected my family. This is the type of book that really appeals to the reluctant, male, teen reader. (no sexism intended)

Harlan has taken a character, Myron Bolitar, from his adult series and introduced his nephew Mickey Bolitar. (Lazy or just getting future fans for his adult series)

Mickey’s father has recently passed away, his mother is in rehab, and now his new girlfriend has disappeared. The only responsible adult in his life is his uncle Myron, and he wants nothing to do with him. Mickey is determined to find out what happened to his girlfriend and this leads him into a seedy world of crime. Along his journey he forms friendships, which you can see are going to carry throughout the series. These friendships make the story interesting. The characters are fun, likeable and a little clichéd.

Harlan has successfully adapted the language to a teen reader; there is no condescension in this statement. There is a need for an easy, fast paced read with relatable characters. This is an excellent novel for either those who want a light holiday read or the teen that finds reading a chore.

 

Warning: The main character goes to a strip club; there is suggestion of torture and sex slavery.

Title: Shelter

Author: Harlan Coben

Published: Orion 2011

Genre: YA Crime

Series: Seconds Away (Book 2)

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Alex by Pierre Lemaitre

Alex

One of the fastest moving trends in the YA genre is the crime novel. John Grisham, Harlan Coben and James Patterson, usually write adult crime, are all producing novels aimed at a younger audience. Next week I will review Harlan Coben Shelter, but first, I thought I should indulge in an adult crime novel so I can compare the two. I chose Pierre Lemaitre’s Alex, it was translated into English and re-published last year, and since that time it has received a lot of praise and won the CWA’s International Dagger award for 2013, so I thought it was a good choice.

The first thing I will say about this novel is don’t read anyone else’s review. This might sound arrogant, but I’m giving this warning for your own well being as many of the reviews reveal too much and I found this tainted any mystery the plot may have held. Most of the reviewers have done this inadvertently, but my readers are an intelligent bunch and I know they can read between the lines.

With that in mind, I will give you a very brief plot blurb. The setting is France (mainly Paris), a girl is kidnapped and the police try to solve this and other evolving mysteries- there. I want to mention a couple of things that bugged me about the novel, I don’t usually do this as opinions can be subjective, but I have an uncontrollable compulsion today to put it out there.

First – the cop, he is the stereotype, white, middle aged, pig headed, flawed character we’ve seen time and again in many crime novels. This is a shame as Lemaitre has a talent for characterization. Secondly- the title, it really “had my goat up” as my mother would say. It did the crime genre, which is unpredictable by nature, no justice.

Now for the good- what I love about the novel is Lemaitre’s keen observations on human nature. He manages to create characters that are incredibly believable. His writing pulls out the subtleties and nuances of the everyday, that most of us are unaware. Lemaitre’s talent is in the detail. I’m not talking of the kind of detail that can bore you to tears, I once read a book that described a fob watch for eleven pages, it’s the kind of detail that forms clear pictures in your mind and allows the story to move along seamlessly. It is that talent that leaves me wondering whether Lemaitre should write in a different genre especially literary fiction.

NB: He did win the Prix Goncourt award for an epic novel Au revoir là-haut on WWII; the highest award for literary fiction in France.

In the end I recommend the book for adults who enjoy this genre, as it was enjoyable. I also recommend it to budding writers, as there is much to be learnt from his style, and its what I found to be the most enjoyable part.

 

Title: Alex

 Author: Pierre Lemaitre

 Published: French 2011, English 2013 Maclehose

 Genre: Crime