The Haven, Simon Lelic – Book Review

Hello Humans! It would seem that the trend of retellings isn’t going anywhere (no I am certainly not complaining). But today’s retelling is one of Oliver Twist, of which I don’t think I’ve ever read a retelling, though I don’t doubt that one exists. I’ll confess to never having read the original Dickens and to also not knowing the musical particularly well, but I still think I knew enough to appreciate some of the allusions in The Haven.

The Haven Simon Lelic

Goodreads Summary:

An adrenaline-fuelled adventure in a new series by top thriller writer Simon Lelic. Ollie Turner isn’t sure he’s ready to be a hero …

Snatched from his bed in the middle of the night, Ollie Turner is thrust into a world of danger and excitement.

Below the streets of London he discovers a secret city: a network of tunnels that lead him to the Haven, a sanctuary for kids run by kids, and the headquarters of an organisation that fights for justice everywhere.

Soon Ollie is caught up in the Haven’s battle: a quest to stop ‘Mad Maddy’ Sikes from destroying the city. But time is running out for Ollie and his new friends. Will they manage to stop Sikes before it is too late? And who is the traitor in their midst?

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One of the things that struck me as being different from the original Dickens is that The Haven is quite short. I know that Goodreads says it is just over 300 pages in paperback but it felt much quicker than that. Perhaps it was one of those ‘I’ve been reading a lot of long books so anything under 500 pages feels like a novella’ things, but more likely this book is just incredibly fast-paced.

The beginning of the book did feel a little bit…unbelievable? It feels very like they had to get Ollie into the action in the quickest way possible and that necessitates a certain suspension of disbelief as to what a person (particularly a small boy) would do if in his situation. However, once you’ve got through those early chapters and everything is a bit more set up then things flow pretty quickly from one thing to another and before you know it you’re at the end. I thought the flow was wonderful, it’s been a while since I’ve been that swept up in this kind of a story, particularly with a male protagonist.

As I say, Ollie was an interesting character, I didn’t always find his actions made total sense, as in it wasn’t totally clear why he would get involved in the way that he did, but I feel like that’s the same in the Dickens so I didn’t mind too much. There are some other great characters including (shock horror) some great female characters throughout the story.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this by the end of the story, it’s fast-paced and a little ridiculous at times but it also has some of those great things I loved to read as a younger teenager. One of those things is that idea of what a place run by children would be like, that sense of ‘we’re so much better than the grown-ups, aren’t we?’ that is just so fun to read when you’re that age.

I’d certainly recommend this to younger readers who like this kind of thriller-esque story. I wouldn’t necessarily say it will be the proverbial cup of tea for older readers of YA but who am I to tell you what you will and won’t enjoy?

My rating: 3/5 stars

I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

What say you? Will you be reading The Haven? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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