She smiled darkly and shook her head. "I'm not crazy. I'm not. Of course what else would a crazy person claim? That's the Kafkaesque genius of it all. If you're not crazy but people have told the world you are, then all your protests to the contrary just underscore their point. Do you see what I'm saying?"
My very first introduction to Dennis Lehane was through the movie, Mystic River. At that point, I didn't know the movie was based on a book, but when I did come across the book many years later, I knew I had to read it. Now I have a huge tome of Mystic River staring at me every time I look at my shelf. It's not that I'm not keen on reading it, I'm terrified. One, because it's huge. Second, because I never really understood the movie, Mystic River, and had to read reviews and spoilers to actually know what it was about. I assume the book is the same. So instead, when I saw Shutter Island at an airport bookstore, after browsing through the shelves for 15 minutes (making me almost late for my boarding), I decided to risk it. At best, I'll enjoy it. At worst, I'll sleep.
Luckily, the best happened. I actually devoured it. Here's the first thing I noticed - Dennis Lehane's writing flows easy. There were no heavy-vocab crunching or roundabout phrases, which is the impression Mystic River the movie put into my head. Instead, I got pulled into this thriller right from page one and enjoyed it to the last page.
US Marshall Teddy Daniels arrives in Shutter Island along with his partner Chuck Aule to investigate the disappearance of an inmate from this inescapable fortress. Teddy is convinced that the place reeks of radical brain treatments and experimentation. What Chuck doesn't know is Teddy has his own personal vendetta to carry out and that getting out of the island may be harder than either of them expected. To add to their troubles, there's a vicious storm brewing and communications with the mainland has failed.
Even before I started, I knew there is a major twist in the ending, thanks to my wonderful friends who had to mince the movie ambiguities in my presence, when it first released. They were generous enough not to talk about the ending, but they dropped tantalizing hints about how awesome it was. When the twist came eventually, it still took me by surprise. Whatever I expected, it wasn't that. And when the ending of the ending came? I needed a cup of coffee to sort it out. Well no, I had to read the ending again to decide which side of the the ambiguity I wanted to be in.
I'm not generally a big fan of ambiguous endings, that is, if the ending is wide-open. One book that I read last year, One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni had an ending which could have gone either way. I certainly didn't appreciate that. On the other hand, books like Shutter Island, and movies like Memento and Inception, although having ambiguous endings, have plenty of hints strewn all over, which can be dissected in so many way to come up with plenty of theories. I don't mean to say I do that, but I enjoy reading the theories.
A week or two later, I watched Shutter Island at home, but since I knew what's happening, and what will happen, I didn't have to strain myself too much. Moreover, the movie stuck to the book's storyline religiously - the booklover in me immensely respected that. I do think however that the movie follows a slightly different theory at the end. That's my interpretation. I did like the movie take better, maybe because the character Teddy Daniels turned out the way I wanted him to. As for the movie itself, I thought it was really well-done. Leonardo DiCaprio as usual, was amazing, though I'm not sure he was the right person for this role. Even now, when I think of Teddy Daniels, I don't see him. But he certainly acted out that one emotional, very tragic scene towards the end of the movie really well. He captured the shock, denial and betrayal very succinctly.
This is another one of the book-movie pair I enjoyed. Most often, I prefer the book, but in this case, I can't choose a favorite. I enjoyed both!
I bought this book with my hard-earned money (and nearly missed my flight thanks to it).