Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Review: The Island
The Island by Lisa Henry
This book was very well-written and intense; both Shaw and Lee got to me and had me rooting for them to find happiness, individually and together.
For all its intensity, though, it had some lengths; particularly in both character's inner monologues. Parts of those could've benefited from some nipping and tucking, which, to me, would've made a very good book a great book.
It was pure fiction, of course; the premise alone of a crime lord keeping a male pet around, let alone devoting so much of his time to torturing and abusing him, demanded a lot of suspension of disbelief, as did the events following their leaving the island. However, approaching this fact from the "it's-fiction-after-all" angle, I couldn't find any breach in the internal logic of the story, so this worked very well for me.
Not much of Lee's torture happens onpage, the reader mostly witnesses the effects of the fact through Lee's desperate efforts of coping with what no living being should ever be made to endure. This made it almost harder to bear. The real discomfort, at least for me, started afterwards, with Lee's slow struggle back to normality. I found the psychological aspect of Lee's trauma and his recovery incredibly well done, down to the fact that what he came to feel for Shaw wasn't only a victim's communion with the one who tortures him least, or the infatuation of a grateful rescuée with his savior. It became very clear, at least to me, that Lee saw Shaw as some kind of beam to guide him out of the darkness, but he didn't idolize him either, didn't ignore Shaw's flaws. As Zev said, "he's a boy who saw all of it and still wants to be with you". Their mutual experience bound them together, so their falling in love and finding a HEA wasn't hard to buy at all.
Still, reading all this was vexing, and some of the physical aspects had me cringe. Particularly the scenes at the sh...frigate - someone who's been raped anally only a few days ago being physically able to have anal sex, let alone enjoying it? Not the mental part of it, that I understood, but the physical aspect, mind you.
My biggest problem, actually, was with Shaw. For all Lee's vividly coming alive on the pages, Shaw was pale in comparison; I actually liked him better in the beginning, as a criminal with a heart, than in the parts where he becomes a medium-rank public servant with a dog and a beach house. Yet, in the end, he and Lee were perfect together, so all was well.
All in all, a book well worth reading. I recommend it; but be aware that there's some serious, intense dealing with rape, torture and trauma in here. Again, not for the faint at heart.
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