‘Shutter Island’ by Dennis Dehane

“This world can only give me reminders of what I don’t have, can never have, didn’t have for long enough.”

Published seven years before the Scorsese adaption, and praised for its well-crafted storytelling, I held back on high expectations, but expectations nonetheless — mainly because I’d seen the film prior, and whilst impressed by the solid performances and plot twists, seeing why this book was chosen for film was something I hoped would not be, should I say, the complete opposite.

Shutter Island’ focuses on Teddy Daniels, an US Marshal sent to investigate the disappearance of one of the asylums patients, Rachel Solando. Along with his partner, Chuck, Teddy begins to discover strange clues pointing towards the truth, but it is one that might prevent him from ever leaving the island.

I’m usually wary around books that feature mental illness – more so when it is used only for plot and nothing else – but here it plays its part in snippets and towards the end of the book. So although part of me was still slightly deterred by it, the main plot stems from searching for the missing patient. Considering the time it’s set in (the 1950s), and the kind of attitude towards mental illness during that time, my need for it to be correctly represented could only go so far when it was not wholly so in that decade; not that it is wholly so in this decade either. Continue reading

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‘Annihilation’ by Jeff VanderMeer

“The effect of this cannot be understood without being there. The beauty of it cannot be understood, either, and when you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you.”

At just over two-hundred pages, Annihilation squeezes a big plot into a small space, but for the most part does a good job of it. Quite creepy, unusual and weird, somewhat similar to the likes of Alien, it is enough that I eagerly await money to buy the sequels.

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world, and on the twelfth expedition, four women – an anthropologist, a surveyor, a psychologist, and the narrator, a biologist – travel on their mission to collect specimens and record observations. They discover an anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding, but it is the surprises they come across, and the secrets between each other, that change everything.

Aside from the few issues, such as rehearsed dialogue and a concept compressed into what should’ve been expanded on further, the positives outweigh the possibility of this becoming an abandoned novel. While the character speak like robots in the first half of the book, their too-quick mistrust of each other that crosses from wariness to outright suspicion within one chapter, and the style of writing becomes slightly confusing, the idea itself is intriguing, and led by an opening into something that runs much deeper. Continue reading

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‘Annie on My Mind’ by Nancy Garden

“The thing about mountains is that you have to keep on climbing them, and that it’s always hard, but there’s a view from top every time when you finally get there.”

In the literature industry, even to this day, it doesn’t recognise the LGBT stories – written by diverse authors – that wait to be spoken about. ‘Annie on My Mind’ is considered groundbreaking for its time of 1982, which is understandable, but reading it three decades later, though sweet and undeniably cheesy, it could play out as the same generic white love story had it not been for the fact it is two gay women.

And somewhat an example of why stories with themes or characters who are LGBT+, People of Colour, or disabled, deserve to share the spotlight as much as the stories with white, straight, cisgender, and able-bodied themes or characters.

One day, Liza Winthrop meets Annie Kenyon, and from that moment she knows there’s something special between them; a story of love, confusion, and identity, promising to stay true to their feelings despite the pressures from their life threatening their relationship. A memorable read for its representation, theme, and good-natured relationship.

Their relationship is one of kindness, appreciation and being utterly smitten with each other, written without making it a huge deal. A natural element of the story – with the exception with some bumps along the way, such as Liza questioning her sexuality at one point, and other characters homophobia, as far as suggesting therapy – refreshingly welcomed after seeing many stories following the typical ‘coming-out’ theme. Which, although not a bad thing, stories of simply falling in love, or having sex, an established embracing of sexuality, is something I’ve not seen much. Continue reading

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