Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Caught by Harlan Coben

Last year teens discovered author Harlan Coben when his adult novel Hold Tight was up for an Abe Lincoln Award. This novel, while also aimed more for adults has important themes that teens need to pay attention to.

Wendy is a reporter who has just exposed social worker Dan Mercer of being a sex offender. At the same time, a seventeen year old girl has gone missing and the police are desperately searching for clues as to whether or not this "good girl" has run away or been kidnapped. Months after both events happen, there's no clue about the girl and Dan's reputation has been completely ruined, even though his case has been dismissed. When Dan contacts Wendy to clear his name, she witnesses his murder and is thrown into a complicated plot in which nothing is what it seems. Someone is out to destroy the reputation of Dan and his college roommates and somehow it appears as if the young girl's disappearance is another piece of the puzzle.

This book was slow at times but when I got to the end, my mind was blown. Literally, nothing was what it seemed and what was so cool was that conversations that seemed inconsequential became hugely important at the end. This book is also filled with important messages. One is forgiveness and letting go of past wrongs. Being unable to forgive destroyed one person while it saved others. Another important theme - although the book doesn't come flat out singing this as a theme - is the dangers of pretending to be someone else on the Internet. Wendy does this as research - to lure people for her news stories and to find information - but there are other characters who do it for impure reasons. It's a slippery slope between innocence and evil. A third theme deals directly with teens and it addresses drinking parties hosted by adults. There's a belief that if teens are going to drink, then it would be better to do so at home with a parent's supervision. Is that truly the right course of action or message that should be sent to teens?

I really enjoyed this book - the ending makes up for any slow parts in the novel. While it is more of an adult novel, the messages are definitely ones that teens can relate to and learn from.

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