After tragic events tear him away from his parents, fifteen-year-old Mickey Bolitar is sent to live with his estranged uncle, Myron Bolitar. For a while, it seems his train wreck of a life is finally improving - until his girlfriend, Ashley, goes missing without a trace. Unwilling to let another person he cares about walk out of his life, Mickey follows Ashley's trail into a seedy underworld, revealing a conspiracy so shocking it will leave him questioning everything about the life he thought he knew.
Wow. Seriously, wow. I picked up Shelter at just after four on a Sunday afternoon. I closed the last page just over two hours later, having DEVOURED it. This story of Mickey kept me utterly gripped throughout.
For a start, the chapters are short and snappy, with sleek prose that keeps those pages turning. You feel absolutely compelled to keep on reading - at the cost of missing meals, not taking phonecalls, not packing for an important business trip, things like that.
Shelter wouldn't work half as well if the characters weren't so vivid. The way in which Mickey interacts with Ema and Spoon, the two misfits of the new high school that he starts attending after he moves to live with his uncle, is absolutely bang on. He is bitter and hurting about the death of his father, and doesn't think he is ever able to become close to someone again. And yet Ema, particularly, worms her way into his life. Their conversations - especially Ema's black humour - are a highlight of Shelter.
In addition to this, Shelter works because it *feels* very adult. I mean, it deals with teenagers and yet circumstances lead them into an incredibly adult situation. It's like the Famous Five coming up against proper slave dealers who don't shy away from torture and killing. I love this dark element to the story, the sense of very real danger.
You know something? I honestly can't think of anything I didn't like about Shelter. From the dialogue to the emotions expressed by Mickey, from the investigation to the hint of a massive conspiracy - it was all superb. And man! That cliffhanger! It feels a long, long time to the next novel in the series.
This is sharp, dangerous, funny and, above all, vital reading. It is a masterpiece of a thriller story for Young Adults. Buy Shelter immediately, you won't regret it.
Shelter is released by the Indigo imprint of Orion Books on 15th September