Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: "Shutter Island" by Dennis Lehane

If you have seen the movie Shutter Island before you have read the book, there is no need to worry. They are both equally great and work to compliment each other. They have the same amount of tension, suspense and emotional levity that makes experiencing the story such a rewarding experience. I have come to really like Dennis Lehane for the books he writes. They are as entertaining as something George Pelecanos would write, but with a greater sense of his characters emotional capacity and why they sometimes commit brutal acts upon fellow humans. He has the perfect balance between a plot that moves along like a jet engine, but never leaves the heart of the story in the dust. At the end of the day, you are invested in the story and continue to read because you have come to know and love the people who inhabit the world on the page. The story, as most everybody knows, concerns a U. S. Marshall named Teddy Daniels, sent to Shutter Island, along with his new partner, Chuck, to investigate the recent disappearance of a patient, Rachel Solando. As soon as they step foot on the island, things begin to get very eerie. The room Rachel was kept in shows no signs of a breakout, and was monitored the night of the disappearance, so she could not have snuck out. Soon, Teddy and Chuck find out about what this is really like and what Teddy is really there for. This place, Shutter Island is special because it only houses the most violent and seemingly incurable patients in America. People have killed family members in bizarre and brutal ways, including a woman who put her kids on display at the dinner table for a guest after she had drowned them (a scene that has a deeper meaning at the end). And Teddy knows a little bit more about this place than he told Chuck. Teddy has a lot of baggage he is carrying around since his wife died in a fire, and the man, who set the fire, Andrew Laeddis, is supposedly on the island as well, and Teddy is out for revenge. He also knows about certain darker aspects of this place, such as the use of lobotomies, and what exactly goes on in the forbidden lighthouse. Even if you saw the movie first and a lot of the books bigger scenes and surprises have been spoiled for you, just reading how Lehane mages to put so much effort and thought into what is going on, is truly worth your time. And if you have not seen the movie, I envy you the untouched trip into this books many twists and turns, especially when you get to the end, whose power is not spoiled by watching the big reveal in the movie. It still had me riveted, until the final, melancholic ambiguous ending, bringing into question the whole idea of innocence and guilt. This is truly powerful stuff, and Lehane deserves your attention.
Rating: 5/5

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