Century | 19 March 2020 | 384 pgs
Source: Library 

Decades ago, a boy was found living alone in the woods. He had no recollection of his past, who his parents were, or how he ended up in the woods. His only friend was David, who's about his age and lived nearby the woods. After the police found him and with no one to come forward to claim him, this boy who is then named Wilde, was turned over to the foster system and later becomes a private investigator after spending some years with the military taking part in secret missions. Despite having a normal life now like the others, Wilde still prefers to live alone in his Ecocapsule house in the woods (which is fully high-tech and reminds me so much of a setting in a sci-fi movie) and has issues with intimacy and connecting with others. He still misses David, who died in a car accident years ago, though he's in touch with David's mother, Hester Crimstein. Hester may be a widow in her seventies, but she is a famed defense lawyer and a TV personality on cable news, Crimstein on Crime.

Naomi Pine, a high school girl, often gets bullied in school until she goes missing one day. Matthew, who's Hester's grandson, approaches Hester for help, who in turn seek for Wilde's expertise. But before they have any findings, Naomi is found hiding at her home basement a few days later. No one knew her reason for doing so, though they all point to peer pressure in school or being abused at home. Everything seems back to normal for a while until she disappears again. It may seem like "the boy who cried wolf" fables, but when another of her classmate, Crash Maynard, is missing, things become complicated as Crash's family belongs to the rich and the privileged and they have a vast connection behind them, including a politician campaigning to become president. Now Wilde has to find the two missing teenagers but what he unravels later would go far beyond the missing cases. 

To begin with, the blurb is a little misleading as it had me thinking that the plot would revolve around Wilde. After all, as the title suggests, he's the boy from the woods. Now that I'd this issue put behind me, I thought I could focus on the missing cases but well, it seemed there's a much bigger picture behind the missing persons mystery and this took a while for the reader to finally work out where the direction goes because there are threads and layers surrounding the core of the story, alongside the various issues of today's society (such as the influence of social media, school bullying, the difference among social class and even political play). Back to the characters, while Wilde is the lead character, the superstar of this book was Hester in my opinion. She's feisty and kickass but yet behind that strong personality, she's actually a sentimental person who still mourns for David and is drawn to police chief, Oren Carmichael. There are a few other interesting characters too, such as Naomi and Ava (the school's art teacher), which I felt their roles are underrated. And then, there's Wilde's past which was never fully explained (perhaps there's plans for Wilde in Coben's future books? I can only hope.) In a nutshell, this was a compelling page-turner with some twists that I didn't see coming. 

Last but not least, I'd like to thank Lark for this buddy read. Please do visit her blog for her review and our Q&As. Here's my answers to her questions: 

1. If you could change anything about this book, what would it be?
I'd like to have a more detailed feature on Wilde and Naomi. I'm curious about Wilde's past and would love to learn more about that missing part. As for Naomi, she entered the scene first but yet there's actually very little focus about her. I get it that she was a missing person, but then it'd be good to  know her more in-depth as a person rather than a missing high school girl. 

2. Coben focuses a lot on the powerful influence social media can have on society in this book. Do you agree with him, and do you think that influence is mostly positive or negative?
With social media platforms everywhere in our world today, it's hard not to take notice or to be swept away by the flow. I think there are both good and bad sides of social media influence, depending on the context and motive and how they're portrayed (positively or negatively). The social media could bring people together, but they could also be seen as a malicious tool to destroy given a purpose. There are certainly both sides of influences and it all depends on one's mindset and how strongly one believe or disbelieve.

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10 Responses
  1. Mystica Says:

    I was keen to see whether Wilde had a past of some kind.

  2. Lark Says:

    Great review of this one, Melody! And thanks for reading it with me. :)

  3. I've always heard such great things about Coben and his books. I've only read one--years ago--and really liked it. I remember it was one of those edge of your seat reads. I met the author a few years ago at a book festival. He has a great sense of humor. Perhaps I will read more by him one day. I've always wanted to. But you know how it goes. So many books, so little time!

  4. Melody Says:

    Mystica - I'm definitely intrigued by his past. Hopefully there'll be a future book about that.

  5. Melody Says:

    Lark - Thanks, Lark! It was a fun and entertaining read, that's for sure. Can't wait for our next read! :)

  6. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I haven't read most of his books but the ones I read are so far enjoyable. It's always a great experience to attend to authors signing and see how they talk. And you're so right about having too many books and so little time!

  7. jenclair Says:

    I've only read one book by Coben, but this one sounds very good!

  8. Melody Says:

    Jenclair - I'll be curious of your thoughts if you do read it, Jenclair.

  9. Iliana Says:

    The social media aspect must be something the author is really exploring. There's another book by him that I've read where that plays a big part of it. Love seeing your joint reviews!

  10. Melody Says:

    Iliana - Yes, I agree the social media aspect plays a major part in the plot. I like his writing style so I'll have to go check out his other books.

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