Excellent, But Slightly Predictable
4 .5 out of 5 stars
You remember when I said T.A. Ward’s Children or Wrath would make you feel things, all of the things? So will Nora Roberts’ Shelter in Place. I don’t want to get political and I’m not interested in a debate–this isn’t the venue for that–but I think one of the reasons Shelter in Place made me so emotional at times was the “this could happen anywhere, this could happen to my loved ones” feeling I got in the pit of my stomach while listening to this story. I read an article a few months ago that said there had been 288 schools shootings in the US since 2009–a figure that doesn’t the shootings at concerts, movie theaters, shopping centers. These incidents are such a common occurrence that they don’t seem all that shocking to see on the news anymore, making this story feel both realistic and extremely relevant.
When the story begins, we meet a series of young adults: a waiter in a popular chain restaurant, an assistant manager of a video game store, an associate working at a jewelry kiosk, and a group of high school students visiting the movie theater together. The dialogue immediately begins the character development, with each personality emerging, just as the shooting begins.
Maybe it’s because each character felt like someone I might have known when I was their age, or maybe it’s just the magic of Roberts’ plot and character development working together, but something about the first part of this book really resonated with me. There’s a scene when a little boy is separated from his mother during the shooting. When he’s brought to a police officer, they ask him his mom’s name. He says “mommy.” Then they ask him what his daddy calls her and he says “honey.” That scene nearly broke me. I thought of my nieces and nephews when they were his age and wondered if they would have been able to stay quiet if they would have known their parents’ first and last names… I’d be lying if I said I got through this book without shedding a few tears.
Shelter in Place takes you inside a mall where active shooters are targeting innocent victims. It initially follows those victims to the parking lot, later to the hospital, and later still, into their adult lives, when survivors begin turning up dead. I was amazed at Roberts’ ability to demonstrate the vastly different ways trauma can impact survivors and found myself wondering what she did to research this book–did she meet with survivors of similar tragedies? Read literature from psychology journals? Speak with law enforcement officials and trauma center medical professionals?
Whatever she did, it worked. This book is an amazing look into the very diverse ways we react to life-changing traumatic events and it felt extremely realistic. Some survivors thrived, some struggled, some used art as an outlet while others threw themselves into their work. The book even touched on how survivors from the same family might react differently despite similar or shared experiences and highlights the ways tragedy can both drive us together and tear us apart.
Nora Roberts is a truly talented writer and has yet to let me down–I enjoyed the way she wove the stories of many individuals into a single cohesive story and found the “who is this crazy person killing off the survivors” part of the book fascinating. I’m afraid to say too much more–if I comment any further on my favorite characters (I’m looking at you CeeCee, you’ll know who survives and who doesn’t and I’m not a fan of spoilers.
So, let me leave you with this: Shelter in Place begins in the midst of the “action” and the suspense is built immediately, but it isn’t necessarily fast-paced throughout the duration of the book. It kind of felt like a roller coaster, building and ebbing several times over. When I started to think “oh, the action is over” it started again. Even when it felt like everyone was safe and comfortable, dealing with the aftermath of the trauma, you get the sense that danger is still lurking around the corner and sure enough, it follows soon after.
The only thing keeping me from giving this book five stars was its occasional predictability. It’s not so predictable enough to be disappointing or to detract from the story but you won’t be surprised by some of the story’s developments.
Shelter in Place is narrated as phenomenally as it was written–January LaVoy voices a variety of characters ranging the gamete of personalities and demographics as this story includes adults, children, men, and women, free-spirited artists, career law enforcement officers, and a few prim and proper folks. Each was wonderfully done. Her pace matched the novels ebb and flow suspense pattern and the emotion she was able to convey was remarkable. Together, Roberts and LaVoy deliver an incredible audiobook that’s sure to please.
Shelter In Place by Nora Roberts
Narrator: January LaVoy
Length: 15 hrs and 22 mins
Published by Brilliance Audio on May 29th 2018
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts comes Shelter in Place - a powerful tale of heart, heroism . . . and propulsive suspense.
It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tending to customers. Then the shooters arrived.
The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies' room, hopelessly clutching her cell phone - until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.
But one person wasn't satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait - and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.