Once Upon A Book – Charlee Rae's Book Reviews

"Books Fall Open, You Fall In"

Shelter In Place by Alexander Maksik


I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars

DISCLAIMER: I won this book as part of a First Reads Goodreads giveaway. I was not asked to provide a review in exchange for winning.

Joseph (Joe, Joey, Joseph) March moves to White Pine, WA where his father has set up residence and also where his mother is currently incarcerated for killing a man. Following him is his girlfriend, Tess Wolff, who along with many others, has come to see his mother as a heroine instead of a murderer. As their lives fall into a steady routine, Tess starts making plans that will change their lives forever….and destroy them in the process.

This is my first experience with this author. I wish I could give it a higher rating. If we based it on just the first half, it would easily have earned a solid 4, leaning towards 5, stars. Because the second half of the book only garners a 2 from me, I had to give an overall rating of 3. It bums me out too because I was really excited to win this. The plot sounded intriguing and being one who lives in Washington, the fact that it takes place here is a bonus. Unfortunately there was no real sense of atmosphere so the story could have taken place anywhere. The only reason you knew they lived in Washington is because it was mentioned a few times. It also took me a little while to get with the flow of the story due to the authors writing style. I admit it was a bit verbose and it bounces from past to present, sometimes with little to no warning, but even with that, it initially grabbed me and I read the first half with vigor. It’s a slow moving novel, which I don’t mind, but by the second half it started to stall completely. I ended up setting it aside several times because it didn’t draw me in anymore. I began to immensely dislike Tess and as the story continued, she grated on my nerves more and more. I found her to be dull-witted and not quite the fierce, independent woman the protagonist kept claiming. I felt Joey made her out to be more than she really was.

Speaking of  Joey, he is our protagonist and narrator. He also suffers from bipolar disorder. The euphuisms of “tar” and “the bird” that are used to describe how the disease feels to him were fascinating and well written. It was interesting to read how it may feel to those who suffer from it. As expected, it also plays a big part in his relationship with Tess. I won’t go into all that, but when it came to their relationship, I felt he was obsessed with her and he equated these feelings to being in love but I don’t know if he really was. I could be wrong though and perhaps that’s better left to someone who has a better understanding of what the protagonist is going through. It’s just something that bothered me.

The repetition of the story was what finally did me in. I ended up skimming the last few chapters just so I could find out what happened. I’m still not sure.

It earns the 3 stars because I would not say I would refrain from reading more by this author. The first half of the book drew me in and he proved that he can engage his readers, he just needs to keep them interested.

Total pages: 400, paperback

Available on Amazon at the link below:

Shelter In Place

Available from Barnes and Noble at the link below:

Shelter In Place



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This entry was posted on November 16, 2016 by in Books I've read and tagged , , .
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