Book Review: The Town by Chuck Hogan

Ben Affleck has had a real interesting career. Most people seem to think he came out of nowhere to make “Good Will Hunting” almost forgetting he had a career as an semi-successful actor beforehand. I thought he was outstanding in “Chasing Amy.” Obviously, “Good Will Hunting” is on my short list for favorite movies of the 90s.

Over the next nearly 10 years, he made a handful of career missteps. He found himself in rehab. He made a bunch of mediocre movies for a big payday. People give him a lot of (rightful) crap for Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Gigli, Paycheck, and more. There were a few movies that were panned that I didn’t think were that bad sprinkled in there (Jersey Girl, Daredevil…), but the combination of bad movies plus tabloid over-exposure meant Affleck got a lot backlash from the masses.

In 2006, he starred in the underrated Hollywoodland and followed it up with his debut Gone Baby Gone. While the movie wasn’t a box office sensation, it made money and it was a smash critical success. Then in 2010, The Town came out and it was both a smash at the box office and with critics.

Had I done my research, I would’ve known that The Town was based on the book Prince of Thieves by Chuck Hogan. As an somewhat avid reader, I’ve made it a goal of trying to read 20 books in 2013 (17 days in, I’ve got 2 down). For the past nearly 10 years, my ratio of sports books to any other book is about 10:1. I’ve probably not read more than five total fiction books during that time. At one point, I loved fiction, but I think demands of my time (job, coaching, husband, father, working out, etc.) has severely limited my free time available for reading. As a result, I’ve read a lot more non-fiction sports books, which are more easily digestible if you can only read for 20 minutes at a time than fiction books which often require you to jump right in. For Christmas, my family got me a Kindle (my first foray into the world of eBooks) and I can already tell that the amount of fiction books that I read will most certainly increase.

If you are a fan of The Town movie, you’ll be a fan of the book (note: the book is called both The Town (revised name after the movie came out) and Prince of Thieves (original name) on Amazon, but it’s the same book… interesting enough, The Town was $3 cheaper than the identical Prince of Thieves).

Assuming most of you have seen the movie, the Doug MacRay (Affleck) character is the main character of the book. Like the movie, he’s a former NHL washout turned recovering alcoholic who has taken up robbery with a group of his childhood Charlestown friends as an occupation.

Without giving away too much of the plot, there are many similarities between the two stories. The characters feel largely the same, although, as is always the case in a book versus a movie, the characters in the book feel a little more well developed in the novel. There are a few subtle differences (and one major one) that make this book captivating and well worth reading, even if you have seen the movie.

At 360 pages, it’s about the perfect length book, as well. It’s long enough to do the characters, story, and surprisingly various Boston locations justice, but not so long that you can’t read it in one setting. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not the most avid reader of fiction books, but this book has excited me enough that I’ve been looking for more fiction books to purchase. Highly recommended.