One thing that I have discovered over the last week is that I love thrillers. Students, who don’t hold back, have commented on how sleepy I look all week. That is because I am flipping pages with one eye open desperate to stay awake and find out what happens next. At work, I am counting down the hours until I can read more, an addict in full withdrawal. I loved Shutter Island, and I devoured both Stephen King stories that I read (I adore almost everything he writes) and so for the review: read it!
Short and to the point eh? Well, never fear I am going to expand on it, but instead of talking about the quality of the book I want to delve into the craft to try to find out some of the structure that kept me up so late, knowing that the next day I would walk around as a zombie. This will help me with my writing this month when I finally get an idea for the story.
I’ll analyze the end of the chapters first. The end of chapters allows you to shove a bookmark in and turn off the light. So what makes it so that in some books you choose to continue? I am going to dissect the first chapter, a middle chapter, and the ending.
We love crazy. It holds us in a sick fascination as we try to convince ourselves that it only happens to other people. We analyze their behavior to search for it within ourselves, to reassure ourselves that crazy isn’t happening in our own minds. And we keep coming back because we keep doing things that plant the seed of doubt about our sanity. It is no surprise then that a lot of thrillers have to do with the mind, and Shutter Island is no different.
At the end of chapter one, we learn that the hospital on the island deals with those who are criminally insane. It is an important distinction as it tells the reader that these patients are dangerous, it sets up the reader as someone on the lookout for the characters in the book distinguished as the ill by their different colored outfits. The author even gives us a short story about a man who woke up speaking backward. This propels the mind forward to chapter two since we need to see what constitutes the need to have an insane asylum on an island.
I flipped to a random chapter and landed on chapter 13, spooky. In this section, the principal character is riding out a hurricane underneath the facility. He took some pills due to a migraine and can’t sleep. But that doesn’t stop him from having a dream sequence about his dead wife. The end of this chapter is blunt; he is going to kill a man on the island, something that he swore to his partner he didn’t plan to do. The reader learns that he lied, the reader becomes an accomplice to murder. The reader must go on.
To not ruin the ending of the book I will talk about it in vague terms. The suspense ends but the desire to keep reading doesn’t. And that is because the reader is finally getting an explanation for the mysteries that have been piling up in their minds subconsciously. The might finally understand.
Dennis Lehane did an outstanding job with this work. I have learned some writing skills that I am hoping to apply to my story for this month. I am also a bit intimidated. Wish me luck.