Friday, April 2, 2010

Coma by Robin Cook

Book Details
Coma by Robin Cook
Paperback, 381 pages
2002, Signet
ISBN: 0451207394

Robin Cook is the author -- and Coma is the book -- for which the term "medical thriller" was first used. It's a spine-chilling shocker about a crime beyond imagining and the committed young medical student who brings it to light.

The surgery was routine -- the kind performed many times a day at Boston's most prestigious hospital. The teams that worked in OR #8 were among the best in the world. But even their incredible skill couldn't make up for what was happening around them. Several patients, admitted to the hospital for minor surgery, never awoke. For some inexplicable reason, their brains had been destroyed.

Coma is a medical mystery written originally published in 1977. The medical world and the average person's knowledge of health and medicine have expanded hugely in the thirty-plus years that have passed. I was delighted to find that amongst the predictable parts of the book, there were still some surprising twists to find. The mystery was very good, even now, and must have been mind-blowing in its day.

My rather large problem with the book was in the form of the main character, Susan. She's a medical student on her first surgical rotation. This is her first time treating patients, her first time putting in an I.V., on her very first day in this hospital. She's demanding. She's blowing off pages calling her to treat patients. She's not going to lectures. She's all consumed by the mysterious coma patients. It's her first day and she's getting involved in things she obviously shouldn't instead of doing the things medical students should be doing. The scenario is ludicrous, as she obviously should have been kicked out of the program for her behavior.

There are some interesting parts focusing on sexism in the medical community and how she battles it. The situation may be dated, but her reactions to it are beyond belief now and in the 1970s. She sleeps with her immediate superior on her second day and yet gets mad about not being taken seriously. This and her entire attitude towards the career she supposedly longs for make her a very unsympathetic main character. Susan brought the entire novel down. Every time she did something, or even thought about something, I have the urge to scream "Are you freaking kidding me?" The plot is great, but the main character is atrocious and distracting, causing the entire novel to be average at best.



  1. Sounds interesting. Thanks for the review.

  2. The movie is fabulous; a favorite of mine!

  3. I looked forward to your review to make a decision, I will pass. Thanks Jenn

  4. 3 shots is a good rating. For my review though, I gave it 2 stars. I completely agree with your opinion about the main character.

    No spoilers here for others that haven't read it, but what did you think about the ending, Jennifer?

  5. when i was a teenager and couldn't afford alot of new books (and had read my librarie's collection pretty much completely!) i used to buy second hand books from the local charity shops - robin cook and danielle steele were often available and after one or two of RC's i just couldn't take them anymore, nowadays i'd rather read nothing than read one of them again!

  6. just re-reading my comment and can't believe how i spelled library's! that'll teach me to type hungover!

  7. I read this book many years ago and loved it. Don't know why I quit reading Robin Cook but I think I overdosed or something. The movie was good too.

    I was a young mother in the 70's and so I didn't find the main character as unsufferable as you did. That's pretty much how it WAS for women though. Not like today at all so I hope others read it based on that context.