Sunday, March 16, 2008

Book Review - Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim

Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim

Brian Lackey, age of eight, is at his little league game one minute, and the next thing he knows, he’s in a crawl space under the stairs at his home. He lost five hours that he can’t account for. Years later, through a series of events, he begins to believe he was abducted by aliens during those five hours. He begins a search to find out exactly what happened to him, and he finds that Neil McCormick is the key to unlock his mystery. Neil McCormick is a teenaged male hustler, who played on the same little league team as Brain.
This novel presents two story lines about two boys who experience a series deeply disturbing events. The boys are affected in radically different ways, and both are driven in unimaginable opposite directions. But these two paths, born of the same horror, must converge at some future point in order for these boys to confront their past. The two story lines are recounted in the first person by each boy. The alternating perspectives of the boys drive home the sense of how alone they are, and that they can’t share their experience with anybody but each other.

Mysterious Skin is not a story for the morally squeamish. It deals intelligently with a subject not often encountered in literature. It presents graphic sex scenes which could disturb the faint of heart, but they are needed to present the greater theme of people victimized by situations out of their control, and how that damage expresses itself in later life.

The characters are chillingly believable. The descriptions are often intimate and beautiful. I must say that this is one of the few times I’ve enjoyed the movie more than the book, and I think that is because I waded through a lot of description that didn’t add much to the story, where as the movie cut all that out.
Another issue I had with the story is that there are more narrators than the two boys. The boys are the central narrators, but there are others, done in first person, which seem more annoying than confusing. My feeling was I wanted to get the story from the boys, and the other got in the way. Those minor issues aside, I do highly recommend this disturbing, thought-provoking, and worthwhile read.

No comments: