Island by Richard Laymon (Book Review)
Plot: When Rupert set out on a cruise with seven other people, he planned to swim a little, get some sun and relax. He certainly didn’t plan to get shipwrecked. But after the yacht blew up, that’s what happened — he and his shipmates were stranded on a deserted island. Luckily for them, the island has plenty of fresh water and enough food to last until they get rescued. And luckily for Rupert, most of his fellow castaways are attractive women. But that’s where his luck ran out — because the castaways aren’t alone on the island. In the dense jungle beyond the beach there’s a maniac on the loose, a killer with a murderous heart, a clever mind and a taste for blood.
My Review: This is probably the 10th-15th Richard Laymon novel I’ve read, and the first official review I’ve written. If you’re a member of Camp Blood’s Forum then you might have seen quite a few mini book reviews of mine regarding Richard Laymon’s novels.
If you are not familiar with Richard’s work, let me warn you now. He is very much into Sexploitation sort of stuff. Rape, nudity, torture, people running around with boners nude trying to kill others. That sort of stuff. So, before you pick up a novel of his, just know that out of the last 15 I’ve read probably 13 have been this way. So if you’re a fan of books or movies like this you might like his style of writing. I honestly can’t say that I’m that big of a fan of some scenes in his books and some aspects, but his writing really reminds me of GOOD horror movies. So I stick with it hoping to find a gem.
Island starts off from the perspective of Rupert, an 18yr old with the hots for just about any woman he sees so it seems. He’s been invited on a family vacation with his “girlfriend”, Connie. Turns out him and Connie don’t have the best relationship, in fact by the time the book starts its pretty non-existent and pretty hostile between the two. The rest of the group consists of Connie’s father Andrew, his wife (and Connie’s mother), Billie, and Andrew’s daughters from a previous marriage and their husbands – Thelma & Wesley and Kimberly & Keith. The book is told like journal and catalogs their experiences of their time on the island, and starts shortly after the boat has already exploded and the action (killing) begins fairly quickly.
One of the main things about Richard’s books is that sometimes there are TOO many things going on all at once to be a coincidence. For example, in one of his books there is a killer, then there is another killer, and then another killer all in the span of like a day or two and all in the woods. I’m happy to report this isn’t that kind of book. He also likes to have a few different groups of characters and bring them together somehow. This book wasn’t like that. Everything actually seems legit, like it could really happen. It isn’t until somewhere around the 60-70 page mark that people start talking about who’s doing the killing. But the book is about 500 pages. And it really doesn’t end up being any sort of a shocker. But for me, when I went into the book based on the description on the back, I thought for sure it would end up being some sort of cannibal sort of “tribe” out in the jungle. Glad it wasn’t.
The book doesn’t concentrate too much on the stranded aspect of life and finding food and shelter and water. They salvaged a lot of the stuff from the boat so its not needed. And the book takes course over a week or two. And we read a lot about them looking for their killer and attempting to catch or trap the killer in a few different ways.
One thing that gets annoying (but you should expect in most of Laymon’s novels) is that Rupert has the hots for each of the ladies on the Island and it gets annoying listening to him having sexual thoughts about each and everyone of them during scenes that most normal people would be thinking “oh shit I’m gonna die what should I do” Instead he gets boners and thinks about touching people. Plus, two of the characters are 14ish years old and he has these thoughts about them, which get disturbing. Especially after he just watched them being beaten and violated. Laymon almost makes Rupert out to sound like a sexual predator much like the killer. So I definitely didn’t enjoy that aspect of the book. I mean, its understandable BEFORE the murders begin, and it would be understandable AWHILE after the murders began, but this guy thinks that way constantly and I just don’t know if that is realistic.
The ending of the book felt really rushed. Almost like he wasn’t sure how to end it. Then again, it was from Ruperts perspective, and obviously Rupert wanted to get the story over and done with. If you’ve read the book you know how it ends, its not completely satisfying, but its not surprising either.
Overall: One of the better Laymon novels I’ve read. I’d probably read it again, whereas a lot of his other novels I wouldn’t bother with.