Monday, December 24, 2007

Book Review -- The Children's Hospital

Oh, this was a strange one.

I have no idea how "The Children's Hospital" by Chris Adrian ended up on my "To Read" list at, but it was, so I checked it out and read it.

First, I hate when a book doesn't have a fly leaf to tell me a synopsis of what I'm getting ready to read. Usually that's more of a pet peeve than anything, but in the case of this book, it really was a necessity to figure out just what the heck was going on. I went to and read the synopsis, because this was one surreal book.

In a nut shell -- you start out reading about the goings-on in a children's hospital during a torrential rain storm. Suddenly, the hospital is afloat, the earth is covered by seven miles of water, and the hospital is watched over by four angels. There doesn't seem to be any life left anywhere else.

What follows in this thick book is how the doctors and interns and medical students deal with day-to-day routines, narrowing in on a select few people whose stories are more closely followed. Spoiler alert -- stop reading if you don't want to ruin it for yourself.....

OK. Basically, all the babies and children get better when Jemma, the appointed "ruler" of the hospital, zaps them with some mystical fire she has but has no idea WHY she has. Oh, and she's also the only pregnant one on the hospital/boat.

For a while, everything is hunky-dorry, life is great, etc.

Then the grownups start falling sick after the discovery of a large boat just floating out in the seven miles of water -- empty except for mysterious ashes. Slowly and then more rapidly, all the grownups fall sick and disappear into ashes. This leave Jemma all alone to give birth, and after she gives birth, the hospital finally lands on dry land, and all the children depart -- but not after taking her newborn with her and to add insult to injury, Jemma turns into dust.

Needless to say, this didn't have the ending I'd hoped for. I had hoped the Jemma and her new husband Rob would make it to land, but they were the last two to dintegrate into nothingness.

A lot of people who have read this correlate it to a morality tale, a cautionary tale, and the parallels between Noah and the ark are there. I read it for the surface content (I don't like to dissect a book to tears if I can help it) and it was interesting, but at many times, especially when it was the angels narrating, I got impatient and then wondered if I hadn't dozed off for a little while and dreamed part of it.

If you're looking for something out of the ordinary, this might do the trick.

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