Annalisa's Reviews > Shutter Island

Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
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May 18, 10

bookshelves: guy-lit, mystery-thriller, psychology
Recommended for: language and violence
Read from May 13 to 19, 2010

I'm not even sure what to say about this book without giving anything away. US Marshal Teddy Daniels shows up at rocky island that's an asylum for the criminally insane to track a patient that disappeared from a locked cell. While on the island, he gets the sense that the doctors are hiding something and sets out to obtain evidence that they are experimenting illegally on patients. As Daniels uncovers secrets, you become more confused about what is actually happening at the hospital.

I'm vague to avoid spoilers, but none of this will make sense unless you've read the book (or seen the movie):

My favorite part of the book was the what added the psychological thriller: an insane person will claim he or she is not insane. Ergo, if you claim you are sane, you are insane. All the witnesses were unreliable, but we have to trust what the protagonist sees and believes until he figures out the next clue. Throw in conspiracy theories, and you never know what to trust. I loved the story shift and the foreshadowing and that even though he couldn't figure out why, Daniels could tell he couldn't trust these people. There were some brilliant moments, like the scene with Noyce that could be misconstrued one way or the other, depending on which story option you believe.

My least favorite parts:
-The gratuitous language and sexual content, especially the scene with his wife. Was that necessary? It didn't add anything to the story and it actually made me reluctant to pick it up for a few days.
-I sometimes had a hard time with the plot concept that a whole staff would encourage paranoia in a violent patient. How is crazy making a curing technique? Take the conversation with Trey about the fence, which is the only moment in the book where no one is playing games, but why? It's the one scene that keeps me from believing the second option.

I still think the concept of the book was brilliant. Even though I was bound and determined to figure out that twist, I didn't. Lehane leaves the ending somewhat open, but it's clear which option we're supposed to believe. I don't know though, some drugs, the power of suggestion, a plausible story, I'm not discounting either one. That's kind of the point of the story, the uncertainty of reality for the insane. Creepy or sad, what do you choose to believe?
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Reading Progress

05/12/2010 "I can't wait to start this." 6 comments

Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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message 1: by amy gretchen (new)

amy gretchen too bad the language is so horrible. I've heard it's a great book.


Annalisa It's such a bummer when a book has so much language. Sometimes it fits the characters (and here it does a little but goes overboard) but when there's a lot of it, I'm always annoyed by it.


Lucy There is definitely a lot of language. I don't remember the sexual scene being bothersome. That doesn't reflect well on me:) But, I loved the style, the pace and the twists. Worth it for me.


Annalisa They were standing in the bathroom and his wife was touching herself and saying the f and c words. I just thought it was pointless. But yes, I loved the book and thought it was worth it.


Lucy Oh, I remember now. I think it didn't bother me because it wasn't as much of a sex scene as much as a scene that showed her depression and the strain in their marriage, which I thought helped convoluted the plot. It was all part of the confusion for me: his putting his wife on a pedestal vs the flashbacks that revealed that his marriage was far from the pedestal.


Annalisa Okay, so maybe it had a point. Wrong word :). I didn't mind her trying to get him to stay and he brushing her off. But I did think it was needlessly crude.


Derek Very odd that you were upset by the language but not the murder of three children by their mother.


message 8: by LadyJane (new)

LadyJane is the sexual content really that bad? do you think it'd be ok for a 16 year old to read?


Derek I don't think there's anything that isn't OK for a 16 year old to read, so my opinion is probably not one you want.


Annalisa LadyJane,
It depends on the 16-year-old and what types of things you read. I tried to look at your list, but your profile is private. I can't remember exactly what was in the book, but from I believe it was more crude references about sex than graphic sex. There may have been a sex scene, but I'm not sure. There's quite a bit of language (lots of f words and the c word) and the murder of small children (by drowning). I probably would have read it around 18.

Derek,
I just realized I never responded to your comment. I had a baby that week so I was a little preoccupied. It's not that the murder didn't bother me, but it was integral to the storyline. I didn't see how the scene with his wife was important. It seemed gratuitous. That's why I brought it up.


message 11: by LadyJane (new)

LadyJane Derek wrote: "I don't think there's anything that isn't OK for a 16 year old to read, so my opinion is probably not one you want."

I welcome all opinions. I guess the thing that I really don't want to happen is my mind being affected by the book in a negative way.


message 12: by LadyJane (new)

LadyJane Annalisa wrote: "LadyJane,
It depends on the 16-year-old and what types of things you read. I tried to look at your list, but your profile is private. I can't remember exactly what was in the book, but from I belie..."


I haven't really read any horror books apart from Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde but I'm not sure that counts. Do you think that if I read the book I would be affected negatively? I read books like The Night Circus, Stardust, The Book Thief and other books of similar genres.


Annalisa If you're worried about the horror, it's more of a psychological thriller so it isn't scary in the typical sense. But if you're worried about the material (language, violence, sexual content), then yes it has a lot of content in it. Personally, I didn't read books like this until I was in college and probably wouldn't have wanted to read it at 16.


message 14: by LadyJane (new)

LadyJane Annalisa wrote: "If you're worried about the horror, it's more of a psychological thriller so it isn't scary in the typical sense. But if you're worried about the material (language, violence, sexual content), then..."

ok. Thanks :D


message 15: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason How is it in relation to the movie?


Annalisa I think it's better than the movie, but then again, I always think that. As much as I admire DiCaprio, there are subtleties to Daniel's mind and experience that you can't quit capture on film.


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