From the book club: The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben

I’ve been a bit slacking in getting these out because this is NOT the second book we read (I need to get my thoughts down about Memoirs of a Geisha, but I rented this ebook style, new for me, and wanted to write this review before I forgot because it’s just not in my pile of books that STILL need reviews written), but it is the most recent one.

As noted above, I did something DIFFERENT and I borrowed the book instead of buying AND I borrowed an ebook version rather than a paperback. There were a couple reasons for this, but namely I procrastinated so much that there was NO TIME to get a paperback version either from the library or as a purchase. So, I downloaded an app that I can use my library card with and read it.

I read the book in 3 hours and 10 minutes.

Timing the read was certainly an interesting stat that I didn’t expect. And, to be fair, I read the first 5 chapters in a sample before actually borrowing the book, so it was probably closer to 4 hours for the read, but anyway, I read this book in four hours and mostly in one day.

Not bad.

So, about the book and not the history OF the book and me reading it.

This is a thriller following a number of people in the New York/New Jersey area and the events surrounding the disappearance of two teenagers in the same school.

Matthew, a student, approaches his grandmother to look into the case of a missing student who is heavily bullied. Matthew feels some immense guilt because he NEVER SAYS ANYTHING to stop it, but honestly, neither would most of us if given the chance to be IN with the popular kids at school (finally, right??).

So Naomi disappears, then reappears. Then super popular kid Chase goes missing and Naomi disappears. Again.

The boy from the woods is now adult Wilde, who was found in the woods around the area as a boy with no memory of his past and no knowledge of how long he’d been there. He’s now 39 and recruited to help find these kids. What he finds is a hole far deeper than anyone realized that entangles not only these kids, but the alleged sociopath running for president.

As Wilde, Grandma Hester, and Chase’s parents chase the leads, a dark secret from the past is pulled up and eventually features quite centrally to the fate of Chase. And even as we’re dragged along to assume one scenario about the connection between Chase and Naomi, the end is far more satisfying and realistic, I think, that what one might suppose was happening.

Now, I’m not usually a thriller reader (in fact, I don’t read in most of the genres we end up reading for book club), so I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy the story. But wow, did I.

It really was hard to put down as the plot thickened and lines twisted and information came to light. The writing, even with chunks of backstory that I was never quite sure was actually necessary, did pull me in. The characters were interesting as was the way they were all connected in multiple arenas.

The thing that really works is the small town vibe that complicates things in certain ways. A large city is, of course, bound to follow laws in certain ways and to spread out duties in a way that’s impossible with a smaller town police force. Once a false alarm is rooted out, the second call is certainly never taken as seriously, especially within small town politics.

The story interested me from the very first pages and continued to draw me in as the story progressed. We haven’t yet discussed it as a book club (that’s tomorrow as of the writing of this post) and it’s possible I’ll be back to add in some more from the discussion, but this book was a great read and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking to read an absorbing thriller.