Seconds Away by Harlan Coben is the second book in the Mickey Bolitar young adult thriller series (available September 18, 2012).
It’s not easy to get a teen to read—especially when that teenager happens to be a guy. There aren’t a lot of books that are guy-friendly, in the era of Twilight and vampire stories. But last year, Harlan Coben brought a great thriller to YA with Shelter, a novel featuring series character Mickey Bolitar. I loved this book, but wondered—can the second book keep up the pace?
Seconds Away opens with a quick introduction of the main character Mickey, who lost his father in a mysterious accident and now lives with his uncle Myron. In Shelter, we were introduced to the mystery of the Bat Lady and the Butcher of Lodz, dating back to World War II. The story quickly plunges into Mickey being brought in for questioning, this time in relation to a shooting that involves his new friend Rachel:
For a moment, I couldn’t speak. When I found my voice, I said, “My uncle?’
The one named Ball said, “Excuse me?”
“Myron Bolitar. My uncle. Was he the one who was shot?”
Ball looked at McDonald. Then he turned to me and said, “No.”
“We aren’t at liberty to discuss this with you, son.”
The pace just keeps going, and I found myself a third of the way into the novel, still not able to put the book down. We’re reacquainted with Mickey’s friend geeky guy Spoon and intelligent but somewhat mysterious Ema. The dialogue flows, and the tension just doesn’t let up—Coben knows how to keep the stakes high for our hero Mickey. Check out what happens when Mickey is hiding under a hospital bed from the Chief of Police:
The nurse started pushing the bed. I did the only thing I could. There were bars under the bed. I grabbed them and pulled myself up. I pressed my feet against the underside and lifted my entire body off the floor.
The nurse stopped, probably because of the additional weight. “Is the brake still on the wheels?”
I held on as she checked. Have you ever done that exercise called the plank, the one where you hold your body in an upper push-up until your entire core starts to quiver? Well, that was sort of what I was doing, except upside down. I felt like a bat or something.
I didn’t know how long I could hold on.
Seconds Away is just the kind of fast-paced thriller the YA genre needs more of—and this one is just as great for guys as girls, not an easy feat. So pick it up for your kid, or for yourself. Just be ready to get sucked in.
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F.T. Bradley’s debut Double Vision (Harper Children’s, October 2012) is the first in the MG mystery/thriller series featuring Linc Baker. Follow her blog YA Sleuth and Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor for YA and MG mystery news.
Read F.T. Bradley’s other Criminal Element posts.