“[He was disgusted] at the beasts who in callous cruelty had dragged down and maimed and destroyed the human dignity of this selfless man. Yet it was nothing new. It had been like this at some point in every civilization and on every continent. There were human jackals for every human disaster.” ― Pat Frank
***this book carries warnings for readers with a history of rape or sexual abuse***
The Island is one of those books that was on my kindle for months, almost a year before I read it. I kept hearing really good things about it and moving it to the top of my TBR. Then I’d hear really bad things about it and move it back down the list. I finally decided that discomfort is in the eye of the reader, and I gave it a chance.
I’m so glad I did. There wasn’t nearly as much of the torture and rape as I expected. Virtually all of the things that may have caused some readers to have a bad emotional reaction occurred off page. It was alluded to in the vaguest of terms.
The Island was so exquisitely described by Lisa Henry, beautiful prose and excellent writing. It was as if I were there, feeling the sand beneath my feet, the cool breeze. I could almost smell the ocean, hear the rustling palm trees and feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. Hidden behind this idyllic veil of beauty is a den of evil, created by a monster of epic proportions. Vornis is a man of vast wealth and power. He likes to show the world the face of an educated gentleman that prefers the finer things in life. This is in direct contradiction to his true nature. He has been a drug lord, murderer, torturer and all round bad guy. He is vulgar, and enjoys making a show of his wealth, feeding on the jealousy of others. Beautiful things, like Lee, are just that; things. Things to gloat about and lord over his business associates’ heads with pride.
Shaw is a trusted facilitator and is in possession of just the type of trophy Vornis wants. It is a Cezanne painting worth millions. Shaw hasn’t come to The Island just to sell a painting to a megalomaniacal sadist. He ‘s after what to him is an even bigger payday, the valuable contacts to be made through his association with Vornis. He had worked hard for six years to get here and he knew how dangerous the game was. He had remained focused, driven and now is finally in a perfect position to take advantage of his preparation and achieve his long awaited objective.
All of Shaw’s careful planning could not have prepared him for “the boy” which is the name Vornis has given to Lee, his newest toy.
Lee, an undercover DEA agent had been captured eight weeks prior. He was slowly dehumanized. He appeared confused, his eyes empty in a drug induced haze. The drugs, used in combination with rare acts of kindness shown by Vornis in between torture sessions, had made Lee compliant to the sexual deviant who was now his Master. All his humanity beaten out of him, his only purpose was to be used, abused and tortured by Vornis and his men.
Lee did go through some terrible treatment, but I read about it, I didn’t feel like I was suffering it with him. A lot of times when I read books with sexual abuse in them, it triggers my own memories. I think that occurs mostly when it is child sex abuse, not between two adults. I am not justifying the behavior because it was between adults. I’m just saying that the people who read The Island and were deeply emotionally effected by it had to be so because of something n their lives, because it didn’t affect me that way. According to other reviews and ratings, many people were able to get past the abuse and just enjoy the story. And it is a great story.
My heart broke for Lee. He had rare moments of fragile clarity, when he was trying to remember who he was, clinging to slivers of hope and self preservation, desperately wanting to survive. His seeing Shaw as his savior had my emotions all over the place!
I really liked Shaw’s character. There was a lot going on inside him and I liked the constant internal struggle between his primary goal versus his emotions regarding the morality of the situation with Lee. He never raped or hurt Lee in any way. It actually appeared to this reader that Shaw tried to keep Lee as safe as he could in the only way he knew how. The Island contained a few WTF moments for me. Mostly regarding Shaw, who although he feels guilt at every turn, is selfish enough to continue to play the game to meet his own ends.
As the story of The Island begins there are many more questions than answers. Lisa Henry cleverly peels back the layers to reveal small details until the entire picture is made clear. The reader is taken on a ride; twisted and turned in every direction, until the fabulous twist I never saw coming. The writing was excellent, it was compelling reading and I was totally engrossed.
There seemed to be a genuine connection between Shaw and Lee, not just sex but an even deeper emotional connection. The possibility existed that there could be true love between them beyond hero-worship or Stockholm Syndrome. I wouldn’t exactly call this a HEA, but it’s definitely a HFN. And I am satisfied with that. For now.