Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Expecting a Slap in the Face

When you work at a hospital for the criminally insane, it is essential that you don't let your mind slip beyond your control.

Dr. Matthew Russel is the managing director of a mental hospital for the criminally insane in Claude Bouchard's novel Asylum. Becoming more and more frustrated with his job, Matthew knows it's time for a vacation. Especially when he learns that he's days from losing his wife and children.

Matt promises his wife, Cass, that he'll make a change. And by the last page, it's a change that I guarantee the reader won't see coming.
* * *
Although at the end of the novel I understand the middle, while reading Asylum I had countless problems with the plot. The first thing that bothered me is that it is drastically unrealistic. Around every corner there is a man with a knife, a car jacker, a robber, a sexual predator, and Matthew is always there to save his family. He's "Family Man." The super-hero dad that every father wants to be. And like I said, with the last chapter, I completely understand why Matthew needed to save each member of his family.

But, trying not to give too much away, to believe the end, I need to believe the entire novel.

Yes, I was brought in with the opening of the novel. Bouchard did a wonderful job in drawing the reader into the story line.
Yes, the characters were intriguing. (i.e. when Matthew snaps and does something completely ridiculous such as kills a man and throws him into a dumpster) 

However, when I'm doubting whether I, as the reader, can believe the narrator ... there's something not right. Towards the end of the novel I found myself scoffing at a plot twist instead of being surprised or entertained.

Not to be harsh, but I would rather this have been a short story, leaving out the day by day account of Dr. Matthew Russel. At least that way the end would have actually slapped me in the face, like it was supposed to.
Asylum on Amazon
rating: 2/5 cups

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