A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Seconds Away is the second novel in a series featuring high school sleuth Mickey Bolitar. It picks up in the immediate aftermath of the Shelter, the harsher human-trafficking-themed first installment. It's possible to read Seconds Away as a stand-alone thriller, but some of the impact of its details will be lost. The main mystery revolves around a shooting that leaves one of Mickey's friends wounded and her mother dead. The second plot thread concerns the death of Mickey's father and its connection to the Holocaust. Much of the violence happens off-scene, but a gunfight leaves a major supporting character grievously wounded. A cache of drugs is used as a plot point. There's very little cursing ("hell," "damn") or sexual content.
What's the story?
Hot on the heels of the events in Shelter, Mickey Bolitar stumbles into a new set of mysteries. The odd neighborhood \"Bat Lady\" hints that his presumed-dead father may still be alive and somehow connected to a 90-year-old Nazi known as \"the Butcher of Lodz.\" Then Mickey's friend Rachel is shot and her mother killed under strange circumstances. Aided by his misfit schoolmates Spoon and Ema, Mickey tries to unravel the truth, without causing more suffering.
Is it any good?
SECONDS AWAY may pick up only a few days after the events in Shelter, the first volume in this thriller series, but it can't match the energy and inventiveness of its predecessor. The central mystery -- Who shot Rachel and her mother, and why? -- does not develop compellingly. The overarching mystery of Mickey's dead father, however, takes a few intriguing twists, but that's clearly a plot line that won't be tied off until some future installment. There's also a growing plausibility factor in Second Away: Does absolutely everyone in this town harbor a mind-blowing secret? Author Harlan Coben is a pro at this kind of suburban intrigue, but he's going to need to step up his game next time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about secrets and lies in Seconds Away. Why is it often difficult to tell the truth about painful situations?
Do parents and children keep secrets from each other? Can you ever know whether telling the whole truth is the best course of action?
If you read Shelter, how do you think Seconds Away compares? What do you think makes a good thriller? How is it different from a mystery?
- Author: Harlan Coben
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
- Publication date: September 18, 2012
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 352
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love mysteries and thrillers
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.