Review: The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben

Rating: 6.5/10

Synopsis

In the shocking new thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away, a man whose past is shrouded in mystery must find a missing teenage girl before her disappearance brings about disastrous consequences for her community . . . and the world.

The man known as Wilde is a mystery to everyone, including himself. Decades ago, he was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. After the police concluded an exhaustive hunt for the child’s family, which was never found, he was turned over to the foster system.

Now, thirty years later, Wilde still doesn’t know where he comes from, and he’s back living in the woods on the outskirts of town, content to be an outcast, comfortable only outdoors, preferably alone, and with few deep connections to other people.

When a local girl goes missing, famous TV lawyer Hester Crimstein–with whom Wilde shares a tragic connection–asks him to use his unique skills to help find her. Meanwhile, a group of ex-military security experts arrive in town, and when another teen disappears, the case’s impact expands far beyond the borders of the peaceful suburb. Wilde must return to the community where he has never fit in, and where the powerful are protected even when they harbor secrets that could destroy the lives of millions . . . secrets that Wilde must uncover before it’s too late.

Review

Thanks to Audible for a listening copy of The Boy from the Woods for review consideration. Receiving this LC did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

Great premise with an immediate hook, but took a turn that ultimately left me wanting more, and not in a good way. My first Coben wasn’t a show-stopper, but I’ll give his books another go.

Surprisingly enough, this was actually my first Coben novel. I say surprisingly because the man has been publishing books for years and I’d really only seen his name in passing glances until the past couple of years. What really sort of put him on my radar was seeing that he had created a Netflix series called ‘Safe’ starring one of my favorite actors, Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under). I noticed he had a new Netflix series coming out based on his book ‘The Stranger’ that stars Richard Armitage, and I figured there must be something to this guy.

Well, when The Boy from the Woods popped up on my Audible recommendations, I figured it was time to take a stab. It also didn’t hurt that Steven Weber was doing the narration. Best known as Brian Michael Hackett in the series ‘Wings’ back in the 90’s, Weber has 30+ Audible titles to his credit including Stephen King’s ‘IT’ and a few other Coben hits like ‘Run Away’ and ‘Home’. Needless to say, he did an amazing job this time around with the audio, perfectly capturing the characters, tone, and pacing to make for a smooth and enjoyable listen.

Having said that, the story itself didn’t keep my attention throughout. I’m big on character-driven stories, but those characters have to sell me emotionally and I didn’t get that this time around. Wilde’s backstory, while interesting, feels very surface level, and all the interactions the characters have with one another just continued to fall flat for me. I ultimately couldn’t take the book seriously at points, but I didn’t want to set it aside in order to reach the climax. Even then, with all of the build up, didn’t give me the big ‘ah-ha’ moment I was expecting.

What started out as a very interesting premise and gave me an idea of the novel I was getting myself into turned into something, not wholly different, but definitely not was I was expecting. Maybe I just went in expecting to be completely wow’d and I let that expectation carry me. Who knows, but it won’t keep me from reading more of Coben’s novels. I’m still interested in a couple of his others that I have had sitting on the shelf.

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