This is one of the books I’ve taken out from the library for a few reasons. One: I want to see the movie. Two: It’s creepy. Three: Anything to do with asylums is creepy. Four: It’s spooky season and nothing better than reading spooky books. Shutter Island fits in on all four categories.
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane is about Teddy Daniels, who with his partner Chuck Aule, go to this island which houses the criminally insane. They’re there on a case to investigate the disappearence of a patient named Rachel Solando, who seems to have vanished into thin air in what seems to be a very impossible escape from the asylum. Throughout the story, you go through Teddy’s journey to find Rachel Solando and you find out Teddy’s hidden agenda as to the real reason why he wanted to take this case. What Teddy doesn’t know is the asylum has lots of surprises in store for him and they have no intention of letting him leave the island.
There’s always something about asylums that have always given off an uncomfortable feeling. The way Lehane writes in this novel really expresses the uneasiness and queasiness about asylums and how an outsider would feel when first entering one. He does a real great job creating the mood and setting. It’s bleak. It’s dark. It’s gives off an omnious feeling that by the middle of the book you’re starting to doubt yourself and you’re not sure what’s real and what’s not. You feel what Teddy feels. It’s done really well and does a good job enticing you to read further, to get you to want to explore the asylum and join Teddy in his journey to find this missing patient. Suspecion is placed on everybody and you the feeling of mistrust starts to build throughout the book.
The plot is filled with twists and turns. It engages you to help solve the puzzles, and once you start thinking you’re one step closer to solving the case, another twist is thrown in and you’re back to square one. It’s not frustrating. It’s actually more exciting and every twist puts you into shock. I was especially shocked during the last few parts of the book. This is definitely a page turner. There a few dream sequences from Teddy that you might find strange (almost like an acid trip) but they’re almost comparable to something you might find on the show Twin Peaks. They’re just strange but it does fit the book quite nicely.
Character wise, I think the main focus would be on Teddy himself. The rest of the characters are very secondary and even his partner, Chuck, is flat. The main character development falls on Teddy and when you see what really happens to him, you’re left speechless and literally dumbfounded. He may be your typical US Marshal on a case on the outside, but inside he has a lot of skeletons in his closet that you eventually discover as the story progresses.
The only criticism I would have at this book is, it is a little predictable. I’ve seen a lot of movies end this way and it seems to be the trend (I’m not sure if books are like this as well). However the ending suits the book so I’m willing to let it go. There is mild language and talk of frontal lobotomies in detail which may be not suiting for some.
Overall a really good book and suitable for a dark rainy windy day. Really creepy and a wonderful psychological thriller with a lot of twists and turns to keep the reader occupied. Don’t mind the typical cliche ending, it’s actually suitable and worth the read. It’s amazing how much more scary asylums are than an average horror movie.
I give it an 8 out of 10.