see a lot of concrete islands in my bike rides, specifically places in urban environments lost to people. If you spend your entire life tucked into your house, your office or your car, you’re going to miss a lot.
The thing is, nobody missed Robert Maitland when his jag hit that freeway concrete barrier and punched through. Not his distant wife or his at-arms-length mistress, nor the work staff he’d trained not to bother him. So when Robert ends up down an embankment in the weeds, with his leg smashed and no way out of the little island formed by the high barriers of three high-speed feeders, he’s as far gone as Robinson Crusoe.
I really wanted to like this one – I loved the idea, having read about it in a book on urbanization. The first half is splendid. The entire man-vs-nature (in an area where, frankly, there is no nature) was just brilliant.
But then the book shifts to man-vs-man, or rather man-vs-freaky-woman-with-a-past-and-a-brain-addled-acrobat. Yes, others live on this island, and suddenly we’ve got the characters playing games with each other, the two wanting to keep Maitland here while Maitland does his best to get away. But soon it’s who-doms-who, all sorts of tense interplay that is fine in its own book but not what I was looking for here.
I’d hoped this was like Catch-22, a book I didn’t like when I first read it as a young adult but found uproariously funny once I’d gotten older (and wiser as to the foibles of humans). I first read this book a decade ago and tried it again, but no, it wasn’t me, or a combination of then-me and now-me. I just couldn’t get into the second half. I wanted to see Maitland come to grips with himself, solve his problems and get off the island. I didn’t want the committee of freaks he was stuck with.
My call on this one is a disappointment: read it yourself and decide. And I see they have a movie coming out about it, so there – what do I know?