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Thursday, August 19, 2021

My First Coben Novel A Meh Read

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When a bullied 16-year-old girl goes missing, no one seems too concerned.  Except her classmate, Matthew Crimstein, whose grandmother is a criminal attorney with her own t.v. show.  When Hester Crimstein learns about Naomi Pine's disappearance from Matthew, she enlists the help of Wilde, a man who was once a feral child found in the woods by hikers.  Now Wilde lives off the grid, interacting with others only rarely.  His almost preternatural instincts, however, make him an excellent private investigator.  He takes the case mostly as a favor to Matthew, who is his godson.  

Wilde's snooping around leads him to Naomi's bully, which in turn leads him to the dark secrets of several wealthy, influential men.  If they get what they want, will it lead to Naomi's rescue?  Or is it too late for the missing teenager?  It's up to Wilde to solve the puzzling mystery.

I find stories about feral children fascinating, so when I read the plot summary of The Boy From the Woods by Harlan Coben, that aspect of the novel drew me right in.  Unfortunately, what proves to be the most interesting part of the story is only a teensy-tiny bit of the tale, which I found disappointing.  as Wilde's past is infinitely more intriguing than his present.  While he's a sympathetic character, he's not entirely likable.  Likable characters are, in fact, in very short supply in this novel.  The only one I would care to read more about is Rola.  Plot-wise, The Boy From the Woods is all kinds of melodramatic and far-fetched.  The story was gripping enough to propel me to finish the book, but it was nowhere near as suspenseful and thrilling as I thought it would be.  Thanks to loosey-goosey crafting, an implausible plot, characters I didn't care about, and lackluster prose, I didn't exactly love this book.  I'll be generous and say it was just an average read for me, nothing more.  I've heard lots of good things about Coben, but if this book is typical of his work, I won't be reading more by him.

(Readalikes:  Um, nothing is coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (1 F-bomb, plus milder expletives), violence, blood/gore, disturbing subject matter, mild sexual content and depictions of illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. I've read just one book by him too. Also called The Woods or similar but not this book. It's a shame as I was expecting more too and have not bothered with him since.

  2. This was an OK read to me and I find the blurb a little misleading as it had me thinking that the plot would revolve around Wilde but actually there was something else and yes, it got a bit far-fetched at times. That said, it was an entertaining read and hopefully his next book will be better.

  3. I’m a big Coben fan, although I haven’t read this one. Tell No One is still my favorite. Give it a try, if you want.

  4. I was disappointed by this one, too. I wanted it to be more about Wilde and his past, and I was sad that it wasn't.

  5. When I read the blurb, like you I was immediately intrigued. So sorry this didn't live up to expectations

  6. I'm not at all surprised by your reaction to this one. I've yet to find a Coben novel that made me want to read more of his work, and I've been wondering about his immense popularity for a long time now.

  7. I've never read Coben's books, but you don't seem to be alone in not loving this one. As for me, this does little to convince me his writing is worth my time.

  8. Oh...and I love the redesign of your blog! Such a cute theme!

  9. Coben is an author that I really feel like I need to read and I'm pretty sure I own several books by him but have yet to read one. That's disappointing to hear it was just kind of meh. So far I haven't been inspired to pick up any of the books I own and that'll probably stay that way.


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