I picked up the paperback edition of Hold Tight by Harlan Coben last week. I've been reading nothing but nonfiction lately so I needed a fiction fix. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of starting it when I was riding home from the high school art competition on Saturday. Big mistake.
As a result, the family had leftovers Saturday night because I didn't want to put the book down. Even worse, I stayed up all night to finish it because once I was on that accelerating train, I couldn't put it down even though the subject matter, parental fear about the many things that can destroy a teen's life, isn't one of my favorite things to read. There's just too much crap in real life that can entrap a teen and destroy lives so it's not my idea of a fun entertainment.
Pushed My Buttons
I'll confess the book pushed my buttons beginning with the back cover quote from the New York Times: "A thriller for the Google era." Yep. That did it. Ring up the sale. I like technological thrillers and mind-expanding ideas, and I usually learn something from them.
The interesting thing is that the book is a slow build. Sure, it begins with a hook that's just plain good writing. That leads to a horrific scene that let's you know real fast what you're in for yet it's nowhere near as graphic as any of the TV shows dealing with forensic evidence and crime scenes.
Then the story unfolds with increasing tension as a normal man copes with situations beyond his experience. A novel is characterized by rising motion, and this certainly can be described that way. You get locked into this man's emotional agony, and you root for him to save his kid.
My Only Quibble
I'm not a big fan of coincidence which figures prominently in the book. I know the author was reaching for the subtlety of "6 degrees of separation" rather than coincidence. The average reader probably saw it as "6 degrees." We writers are just a more critical bunch, a fact which I wish wasn't true since it takes away some of the pleasure of reading.
You'll like the normal relationships expressed by the husband and wife who "star" in the book, and you'll be glad it's them going through the parental trial by fire, not you.
Nothing beats a good book for engrossing entertainment, and Hold Tight is certainly that.