Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shutter Island is one of the best books I read last year


Seriously, if you haven't read this book yet, and you have any intention of ever doing so, or of even seeing the movie, please STOP READING, I'm about to ruin the whole thing for you.  Seriously.  I loved this book so much, and I don't want to ruin that for anyone who might read it in the future.  I wish I could write an adequate review posting my thoughts on it without giving it away, but I just can't.  I know my own inadequacies.  So please heed my advice and go pick up a copy of this book from your local bookseller or library, read it immediately, and then come back and visit.  And comment.  And follow. 
Okay.  Moving on . . .

I'm beyond excited about this movie, first of all.  I think that with Scorcese at the helm, Lehane's brilliant mystery is going to come to life beautifully.  The previews look promising, and I think DiCaprio was a great casting decision to play Teddy.  That aside, this book is one of my favorites of all time.  That is a very short list, and making it is no easy feat, but Shutter Island really blew my mind.  Prior to reading it, I picked up Lehane's collection of short stories, Coronado, just to get a feel for his writing.  It was the first thing of his I'd read, and I fell in love almost immediately.  For real, Dennis Lehane can do more in a 25 page short story than most authors can do in a 250 page novel.  I'm just so impressed with his writing.  Captivating comes to mind.  The one story, "ER," blew my mind.

Shutter Island takes place at an asylum for the criminally insane - a place where they take the people that can't be anywhere else - on a small island in Boston harbor.  Teddy Daniels and his partner Chuck Aule are sent there to investigate the disappearance of a patient who seemingly evaporated out of thin air, and in the process they come across some other shady dealings that seem to be taking place on the island.  Now, I've heard some people say that they knew right away that Teddy was actually Laeddis and that he was patient 67 and that the whole thing was some kind of set up all along, but I think that's bullshit.  I had a feeling that something was up, and that maybe he was somehow tied into the patient 67 thing, but how anyone could have foreseen that the whole thing was an elaborate set up because Teddy is a patient there is impossible.

I believe it's impossible to have foreseen that, because the book ends without really letting the reader know if that was the case or not.  And I love Dennis Lehane for that.  I've had discussion about the lady in the cave, and I firmly believe that she is the turning point of the whole book.  Without her cautioning Teddy not to take any meds or accept any cigarettes or anything, that layer of doubt wouldn't ever be placed in the reader's mind, either.  She, and that conversation in the cave, is the turning point for Teddy, it's when he truly starts to question whether he'll ever get off the island, and even to question his own sanity.  At the same time the reader starts to see the disturbing patterns developing, and begins to wonder if Teddy was a bit off to begin with, or if it's the pills he took for his migrane that are making him that way.  What were those pills?  At the end, you still don't know if the whole set up that was described was the beginning or the end of the cycle.  Did they really set it up to try and cure Teddy of his mental illness, or was that story something they made up to essentially capture Teddy and keep him on the island indefinitely.  There are just so many layers to this book, and it's so well-written and suspenseful and just brilliant that I'm beside myself whenever I try to talk about it.  Love.  I love Dennis Lehane, and am now on a quest to read all the rest of his books.

By the way - I'm totally jealous that my internet friend Heather, of See Heather Write, got to meet Mr. Lehane himself at her writing workshop recently.  Totally jealous.  She's also now doing a contest on her blog, giving away a signed copy of The Given Day, as well as a signed copy of Anita Shreve's The Pilot's Wife.  Good deal.  Check it out.

1 comment:

  1. Yay! Glad you liked it. I thought that this was great. I cannot wait to see the movie. Martin Scoresese plus Leo plus a great book? Yes please.