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As a dorky teenager I loved Laymon. I had joined one of those book clubs where you get a bunch of free hardbacks, and this was the first book I read. After that, I collected a few other Laymons but none ever matched Island in terms of pure excitement.
However, reading it again recently as an adult, I was able to see it more clearly for what it is - shameless tongue-in-cheek perve-horror, with no real redeeming features. I like a book that teaches me something, but Laymon's works are fun, nothing more. And even the fun, as an adult, is limited.
The basic plot is this - a rich family take their yacht to a small, apparently uninhabited island in the Bahamas. While having a picnic on shore, their yacht blows up, leaving them stranded. Pretty soon they discover that there is a murderer on the island with them, intent on picking them off one by one. Who is it? Do they know him/her? Why is he intent on killing the men but leaving the women alive?
The book is narrated by Rupert, the spotty geek who is the boyfriend of the younger of the three sisters on the trip. He writes it as a journal, giving a distinct perspective of the events as they happen.
Unsurprisingly, as with most Laymon books there is a significant sexual undertone. It's no surprise that the men are all picked off, leaving just the women - the bitchy (but hot) younger daughter, the Amazonian (and very hot) older daughter, and the (hot) step mother, alone with Rupert, who while under threat of his own death seems to be living out a perfect dork fantasy. Can he survive? Can he protect his women from the evil murderer? And (seemingly) most importantly, will any of the woman fall in love with him?
There is plenty of bad language, lots of sexual references and lots of graphic violence, but its all very comic book. As with many Laymons, about halfway through you get a slightly random plot twist (for REALLY random, read Savage) which while vaguely plausible is basically just good fun. Rupert (love the name) at times seems more concerned with writing about the women than about what's happening to them, and it can get grating after a while, particularly if you're a mature adult.
As a teenager I considered Laymon one of the "big three" American horror writers along with King and Koontz (although these days I consider James Herbert and Shaun Hutson to be better than any of them). While both of the others fulfil the horror criteria, Laymon really is in a sub-genre of his own. His writing style is easy to read with lots of short paragraphs (many just a single line) and long sections of dialogue (the paperback runs to 600 odd pages but I read it in two days first time around), but if you're after serious horror you probably want to look elsewhere. This is cheesy B-movie stuff, lots of fun but also a little shallow, sexist, and irritating at times.
Overall, I'd recommend this is you're a teenager looking for some escapism, but if you're a mature adult (particularly a woman) it's probably best to avoid unless you're a fan of B-movies with obvious plots where babes run around helplessly before eventually getting slaughtered. If you've read any Laymon before and have something to judge it against, it is one of his best, though.
I was introduced to Richard Laymon as a teenager by a friend and as soon as i read that first book i was hooked. As the blurb from Dean Koontz says on almost every copy of a Richard Laymon book "if you've missed Laymon then youv'e missed a treat"
Island is classic Richard Laymon even though the writing style is a departure from his usual style. The book takes the form of a diary written by the main character Rupert and documents what happens when on an idylic cruise somewhere in the Carribean with his girlfriend's family they swim to a beach for a picnic and a day's swimming and the boat on which they were sailing explodes.
To begin with the novel starts with what seems to be a tale of survival as they wait for rescue to happen but being a Laymon book things soon start to take a turn for the worse when the people in the party start to get killed one by one and they realise that a killer is on the island with them and they begin to realise that it may be one of their own.
If this sounds like a by the books thriller then prepared to be shocked as it is far from it but to give away anymore of the plot really would spoil it for new readers but there are plenty of twists and turns in the story some of them which will leave you with your mouth dropping open in shock.
The pacing of the story is fast and if you enjoy this type of book then you will not want to put it down, i finished it in 2 evenings and never once felt like i was having to labour through it.
There is plenty of gore to be found in this book for horror fans and he really racks up the tension as the story goes along leaving you wondering what could possibly happen next. Ok so the story is not the most realistic going from one improbable situation to another but somehow you get swept up in the story and find yourself rooting for Rupert even though he is a deeply flawed character and the ending was completely unexpected.
One thing about this book is that like the majority of his books i find myself a little uncomfortable in how the women are treated in it, I'm not sure if it was his intention to have the reader feel uncomfortable or if he was writing his own sexual fantasies but the violence and erotic content leave me feeling somewhat uncomfortable at times.
My personal opinion
Richard Laymon never achieved the status of his contemporaries such as Stephen King and Dean Koontz and unfortunately he died from a heart attack in 2001 leaving behind a back catalogue that ranges from mediocre to modern day horror classics. Since his death he seems to have achieved a cult following and in most book shops there is a Richard Laymon section in the horror department so his books are relatively easy to find.
I urge anyone who likes horror novels and has never had the pleasure of reading one of his books to hunt one out and Island is a perfect introduction to his sometimes sick twisted but always thrilling world.
Another great Laymon novel (one of his better ones).
The story is written in the form of a diary that is being written by one of the eight people(Rupert Conway) that are shipwrecked on an island after the boat they were cruising on blows up when they are on shore at a remote island.
The diary follows the eight as they come to terms with the fact they are shipwrecked.
Rupert is only on the trip as he has been invited by his wealthy girlfriend (Connie) who he isnt really that keen on anyway.
Rupert is a typical teenager and finds himself overwhelmed by the beauty of the women he is marooned with.
The rest of the party is made up of Connies parents and step sisters and their spouses.
If it was just a matter of surviving on the rations and food they could forage they would be ok but they soon realise they are not alone and are slowly picked off one by one.
This is a great read and has quite a srange ending, I have found that sometimes Laymons stories have a dissapointing end but this is not the case with this one.
The 407 pages will keep you hooked right till the end.
Briiliant I love Laymon.
I love horror books and have read a few books by Richard Laymon in my time. I could never describe him as my favourite author, although I do find that his books are fairly enjoyable, and are easy enough for me to read without me needing to apply too much concentration or thinking, which at times is all I am really looking for in a book! I do like 'heavier' fiction at times too, but for the most part I am looking for something that is quite easy-reading.
It was when I had recently finished clearing out one of the cupboards in my flat that I came across a box of paperback books that I had put in there some time before! (See what happens when you have too many cupboards, dear dooyooers?) Anyway, one of these books was "Island" by Richard Laymon, and I opted to give it a go.
I was under the impression from the start that I had read this book a long time ago, but about three chapters in I changed my opinion, and having read it now from cover to cover, I know that this story is a new one to me.
The idea of the plot however, is perhaps what caused me some confusion, as it is a plot that I have come across in different books over the years.
*~* THE PLOT *~*
A group of eight people, who are holidaying in the Bahamas, are taking a picnic on a remote desert island (as you do..!) when their boat blows up. This means of course, that they are shipwrecked on the island.
Not being too worried about this at first, they manage to rescue some of the supplies from the boat, that are floating in the water following the explosion and set about making a makeshift camp for them to be as comfortable as possible until the time when they are rescued.
Unfortunately one of their party was on the boat when it blew up, and therefore the group is reduced to seven. As nobody seems to be a particular fan of the man who was killed on the boat, this is not the biggest problem for most of the remaining members of the group.
It soon becomes apparent that somebody is trying to kill off the remaining members of the small group one by one. A couple of bodies are found, and this obviously is the basis for the horror story to unfold....
*~* MY OPINION *~*
All in all, I did enjoy this book and read it in about three days. I was quite surprised at how the book kept my interest enough for me to find it fairly addictive. Having read several books by Laymon before, I know that his style of writing doesn't necessarily have this effect on me, so this was a welcome surprise this time around!
The story was very easy to follow, and had no 'loose ends' and no aspects of the mystery or story itself were left unexplained.
I also liked the way Richard Laymon had written this book, which was in the first person. The format was basically that of a journal or diary, which was written by one of the members of the stranded group, a young man (I think he was 18), called Rupert.
Rupert's 'writing style' was one which was not only dipped with humour from time to time, but his opinion was usually a sarcastic one, as is the case with lots of young men of a similar age group. It is fairly obvious quite early on in Rupert's 'Journal' that he is very attracted to a couple of the women who are shipwrecked with him, and this means that some of the things he is writing about have a rather *ahem* 'adult' nature to them!
All in all though, I got the general impression that Rupert was a fairly decent guy, and I grew to like him the more that I read this book. I would go so far as to say I felt a sort of affection towards the character, which is quite unusual for me when I am reading a book like this one. I can assume therefore, that it is the author's writing style, and the fact that he has given Rupert enough personality and 'depth' to his character that has made me have this impression.
The other characters for the most part were quite annoying because they did all manner of annoying things, such as overreact to minor things. One of them in particular, a young female and Rupert's girlfriend, was very shallow indeed. The other members of the stranded party were rather insignificant to begin with, but their characters took hold as the book developed, and I got further into the story.
I also found it quite annoying the way that the author (well, Rupert) gave us so much detail about the figure and 'cup size' that each of the females had - at some points it was just plain crude. This amount of detail led me to wonder whether this book was aimed at a male reader instead of a female one! - The author went on about such things in a little too much detail for my own personal tastes, and I would say that this book is not ideal for a teenage audience.
Whilst I am on the subject of attention to detail - I did find it a little distracting to read all of the detail given by the author at times. This was particularly the case a couple of times at really thrilling moments in the book. As with any decent horror story, there are several occurrences of intensity in 'Island', which had me gripped due to the thrilling twists in the story. Whilst I know that it is important to set the scene properly for readers, I felt that the detail given by Laymon was at times just far too much! I found this to be both distracting and rather annoying, and I felt my concentration wander once or twice... I guess I just wanted the author to stick to the story, and give the imagery a rest!
The story itself, as I am sure you have worked out by now, is very far-fetched. To be fair though, I kind of expected as much before I even started reading the book. I was surprised that the story was not more predictable than it was, but I can honestly say that at no point did I have that annoying feeling where I knew what was coming next... the story was certainly filled with enough twists and shocks to keep me guessing, which I personally find enjoyable in a book.
As I have touched on before, this book had some very 'adult' themes and it is probably not everyone's cup of tea. There are tonnes of sexual references, and a couple of occasions of rape and even a hint of incest. There are also many violent elements to the story, and for the most part it is really quite gruesome and very gory - lots of blood spilling and machete-wielding. There are also some elements of torture, all of which is witnessed by the reader of the book. (Me.)
At times if I am honest, I felt that some of what was written was quite shocking, and believe me when I say I have read a LOT of horror fiction in my time. I did not find it to be disturbing though, I was just left wondering the same question I usually wonder when I finish reading such a violent horror book... "My god, why does the author write about such things - maybe he is a bit sick in the head?"
Hmm... at this point, let me remind you again that the book is NOT for the faint-hearted.
I suppose though, if I am being honest, if I had read this book and was left without feeling a bit sickened, then my opinion would probably be that the author had not done a very good job, and it should have been categorised in the 'thriller' section rather than the 'horror' section. Make no mistake that this book IS a horror and belongs in that genre.
I would give the book three stars overall, because I did quite enjoy it. The way that Laymon produced this constant fight for survival, which goes on throughout the whole book, had enough thrills to keep me reading on to find out more. It was most definitely not as gripping as other horror books I have read though. I would recommend it, but only if you had nothing better to read.
And I most definitely would say that it is NOT one to take on holiday if you are going to be on an island, or surrounded by water, or anything like that... ;-)
Island is available to buy on amazon.co.uk for £5.49 (new) and prices for a used copy start at £0.01.
This gets three stars from me!
This novel is what happens when you mix eight people shipwrecked together on an island with a maniac who wants to kill them all and the twisted mind of Richard Laymon. It is exciting, enthralling and has a great mystery of who the killer is for much of the story. Following the perspective of Rupert Conway, through the medium of a journal, the reader is able to feel, see and understand the fears of the castaways. Perhaps the distacting aspect of the book is Rupert's constant obsession with the women he is with. Somehow it just doesn't seem entirely believeable that when in mortal danger the first thought in his mind is busts and bottoms! But it's a Laymon - it's not supposed to be realistic! A wonderful read, it goes off a little at a tangent in places, especially while Rupert is separated from 'his' ladies, but otherwise brilliance wrapped up in five hundred pages.
Island follows a group of people stranded on a desert island, one of whom is a psychotic killer. A standard B-movie premise, as ever, is given an excellent treatment by Laymon, whose books are constantly gripping and readable. However, Island remains, in my mind, rather flawed. The unique aspect of the novel is that it is narrated by a teenage geek, who uses the situation to overcome some of his neuroses and live some of his fantasies. This leads to some uncomfortable scenes, where the 'hero' comes across as a very small-mided and unlikeable person with some very unsavory fantasies. Of course, this is the point, in a way, but I found the writing went a little *too* far at times. Laymon write shocking and unexpected endings, and this has one of the most memorable, but one which leaves a bit of a nasty taste afterwards. Overall, this is a consistently readable novel, but, in my opinion, one of Laymon's lesser works.
Out of all Richard Laymon's excellent novels, Island is my favourite. It has everything you could ever want from a novel, including an absolutely jaw-dropping final twist. It's the story of a group of people who are shipwrecked on a tropical island, only to be hunted down by a crazed killer. This might not sound like the most original premise you've ever heard, but it's what Laymon does with this basic idea that is so special. The writing is absolutely flawless, and the characters are utterly believable and never dull. It's written in the form of a diary, from one character's point of view, and is so well crafted that you genuinely feel you're reading the words of a real person, rather than the author's words. Laymon somehow manages to make the novel fast moving and exciting, and yet still full of suspense. It's one of those books where you're constantly rushing to finish a chapter, just so you can get on to the next! I can't recommend this book highly enough. If you havn't read a Laymon novel before, there isn't a better one to start with.