This is another one of my reads for the March Madness booktalks. This is book one in Coben's Mickey Bolitar series. I have not read any of his Myron Bolitar books, but I know Mickey is mentioned in Live Wire.
Mickey Bolitar is still reeling from the death of his father and from his mother's drug addiction and only wants a little normalcy. Unfortunately for Mickey, his life is complicated. He is forced to live with his uncle who spent the last fifteen years, Mickey's whole life, ignoring Mickey's father. Mickey starts a new school and thinks he has found a nice, sweet girlfriend, but then Ashley vanishes, leaving Mickey stunned. Driven to find her, Mickey searches for clues and believes the Bat Lady may have the answers he needs. When the Bat Lady yells at him that his father is still alive, Mickey will risk everything to find out the truth. Joined with by Spoon and Ema, who are outcasts, Mickey will have to spy in a strip club, face down a notorious war criminal, and risk his life if he wants to find Ashley and some answers.
Even though they visit a strip club, called a "go-go dance club," the book still would fit for ninth grade. There was enough action and suspense to make this a quick read, but it does seem written for a lower level. I liked the characters, although the bullies seemed a little too one dimensional and cliche. Mickey's friends are funny and endearing and his uncle seems to be someone Mickey can rely on. The ending was sort of a cliff-hanger, but most of the story-lines seemed to come to a close.
Favorite Character: Mickey. He is very loyal, almost too much so. He is both tough and in need of some guidance.
Favorite Quote: "The court is my escape and my paradise." The section about how basketball is his escape was really well-written.
I did like most of the characters and this was a fairly quick read. I do want to read the sequel, but it may be awhile before I pick it up. I also want to try to read one of the Myron Bolitar books. 3.5 cups of cocoa.