Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Book Review: Shutter Island

I had been counting down til this movie's release, as I love Martin Scorcese and Leonardo DiCaprio.  Like many other things in my life, seeing this movie fell by the wayside as I got busy with work and other pursuits coughMalabrigoMarchcoughcough.  I was pretty excited when one of my book clubs choose Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane as April's book.  I didn't even realize it had been a book originally.  I've heard that the book and movie are very similar, but if you've only seen the movie you should still definitely pick up the book. One of my friends who had enjoyed both said that there is one scene in particular in the book that is more vivid and creepier and worth reading all 300+ pages to experience it.

The library's copies were all out and reserved, so I wasn't sure if I would get the book in time.  I intended to buy my own copy, but I got busy and didn't get a chance.  My library copy arrived the day before book club, which left me 26 hours to read the book while still working all day and doing all other little pesky daily life tasks like sleeping and eating.  Well, I tore through this book in 3 hours, despite knitting while I read!  Like Lehane's other bestsellers turned blockbusters (he wrote Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and the recently optioned The Given Day), Shutter Island kept me frantically turning pages and left me surprised at the end. 
The story begins in Cold War era America as U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels arrives at Ashecliff, a mental institution for the criminally insane secluded on a Boston Harbor Island, Shutter Island to investigate a mysterious missing patient.  A hurricane keeps him and his partner, Marshal Chuck Aule detained on the island and puts their lives at risk when the electricy goes out and the institution's electic locks fail.  The two Marshals explore the island and begin to uncover a Nazi-esque human experimentation conspiracy--or do they?  Daniels is running for his life in his pursuit to leave the island lest his brain become fodder for LSD and lobotomy experimentation.
I predicted a twist at the end, but my pieced together clues weren't even close to the "truth."  I loved that the ending was a little open to interpretation, because I don't want to let go of my theory!  Either way, I think there is an underlying, subtle commentary on the standard procedure and overmedication rampant in American mental healthcare today.  If you've read the book, I'd love to hear what you thought.

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