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The Children's Hospital

3.60  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,551 Ratings  ·  519 Reviews
Hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as “one of the most revelatory novels in recent memory . . . Cleverly conceived and executed brilliantly,” The Children’s Hospital is the story of a hospital preserved, afloat, after the Earth is flooded beneath seven miles of water, and a young medical student who finds herself gifted with strange powers and a frightening destiny. Jem ...more
Paperback, 624 pages
Published October 23rd 2007 by Grove Press (first published August 22nd 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lizzie Maguire
Oct 12, 2007 Lizzie Maguire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Angels and nurses
I have never been very good at describing books to people.
Mostly, I think, because the story has already been told in a way uniquely perfect to itself.
And how could I try to improve upon that?
So I will not describe this book to you, at least not in detail.
It is 615 pages long, so even the description would be rather lengthy.
But I will tell you to read it.
Because you should.
I don't even know if you will like it.
I have read some reviews of it that weren't too enthusiastic.
But I have also read some
Apr 15, 2012 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A children's hospital is the only surviving structure after a great flood, and then all sorts of who knows what huh why oh why what a waste of my life happens. Ugh, even now, I think I would still read a book with this premise, because it sounds like it could be so great. That this book ruined this premise so thoroughly and in so many distinct ways is a feat on par with a magic hospital with an angel in the basement and a replicator machine, that organically opens up new rooms while upon the sea ...more
Daniel Roy
Apr 20, 2012 Daniel Roy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, taw-bookclub
What a chore this book turned out to be. It started strong enough that I stuck with the first few hundred pages despite the lack of significant plot development, hoping something in the overall novel would redeem the whole. But by the time I got to page 400 or so, I realized I had been duped.

The premise of The Children's Hospital is pretty cool: it's a modern-day Noah's Ark story, but with a floating hospital, and rare diseases instead of animals. But unfortunately, and perhaps deliberately, Adr
Gregor Xane
Sep 22, 2013 Gregor Xane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This is a literary novel with science fictional, fantastical, and horrific elements. It’s a novel with overt religious themes that’s filled with black humor, curse words, sexual situations, bleakness, and just a sprinkle of hope. It is dark and funny. The writing is top notch. Some characters are chillingly true-to-life while others are wonderfully over-the-top. The author creates a true microcosm of the world in his children’s hospital afloat on God’s second great flood. He’s smashed a little b ...more
Jan 26, 2011 Corey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

A fairly strange book, in the sense that I never knew exactly where it was taking me. Two hundred pages of hospital melodrama with hardcore medschool level diseases and afflictions start this one off, albeit there's quite a bit of "Angels" and whatnot thrown in, plus the world ends. However, this doesn't seem to faze the Hospital peoples, as they basically go on about their daily business of trying to keep the kids alive and whatnot, even though they have a machine that will ma
Mar 25, 2008 Aaron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Drew Krassowski
Mar 13, 2008 Drew Krassowski rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people who enjoy magic realism or are into the mythology of religion.
Shelves: favorites
Let's start with, "...Oh, my god..." in a very, very good way. So good, I kissed its cover when I finally finished it. What - you've never done that?

Now, first of all, I'll admit that there are a good 100-150 pages that could really be lobbed off the top. That being said, you must understand that it is these 100-150 pages that could either pull you in further or annoy you incredibly. Fortunately, myself belonging to the former category, there is a payoff to getting to know these people so well.
Nov 19, 2007 Hashi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Even though I have slightly less than zero recreational reading time these days, I borrowed this fat hardcover book from the library last week. I'm about 20 pages into it, and loving both the premise and the style. It'll probably take me months to get through it.

Hmm, I just read all the other reviews on this site, and wonder if I should have chosen such a deep and dense book to read in my snatched ten minutes here and there ... we'll see how it goes.

11-19: Well, it took me six weeks, but I final
Jun 21, 2007 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I have such violent dreams, and yet they are never nightmares. The nightmare is the one where I wake up fifty years from now, happily married, and see a picture by my bed of the family I have happily fathered, every face smiling, every heart black with the sin I put in it."

I read this book months ago and I'm still thinking about it, so I figured it deserved a bit more of a statement than just 5 stars. That quote above is, I think, a representative one from the book. If it resonates with you, th
May 15, 2007 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rachel Bullock, Rick Kreinbring
Finally finished this epic on Sunday night. The sheer size of the book itself -- and the fact that it's a beautiful product and I didn't want to mess it up -- made it a bit difficult to lug around for subway reading. Anyway -- this story is phenomenal. I've never read a book like it, and I always appreciate originality, and not only is it original but it's beautifully written, the characters -- unlike this run-on sentence -- are extraordinarily well constructed (Pickie Beecher should go down as ...more
Mar 19, 2008 Kecia rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
The only reason I picked this up, and the only reason I stuck it out for all 615 pages, was because I was captivated by the initial premise of the story -- people marooned in a children's hospital post-apocalypse -- and I wanted to see how it would resolve itself. Maybe it was because of my attachment to the premise that I found myself bogged down by the huge amount of (very well-written) detail about the characters' interior lives and the activities of a children's hospital. These things by the ...more
Jul 02, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sentinent creatures
Shelves: literature
It's hard to know what to say here: I have a distinctly personal relationship with this novel. I want a copy issued to every American, but I don't think I want to talk to anyone else about it.

"Children's Hospital" mercilessly pokes holes in the shields we use to ignore what we do to each other and how little we think about it. Lazy optimism and contented abstractions crumbled.

But despite how this might sound, the experience of reading "Children's Hospital" is not at all like slogging through, s
Mar 30, 2007 Oriana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: read-2007, phenomenal
This is one of the latest offerings from McSweeney's Rectangulars. It's gotten a lot of press from unexpected corners, even including Oprah's magazine. And it is all deserved--this book is sensational. The plot is dazzlingly original, the characters are compelling, and the voice is just fantastic. This is one of the best books I've read in a long time.


I've just finished reading and crying both. What a stunning book. It is
[This is as much an attempt on my part to puzzle some sort of meaning out of this book as it is a review, so beware of spoilers - not that this is really a plot-driven book, because everything that happens is pretty clearly telegraphed anyway, but you have been warned]

They say to write what you know, so Chris Adrian, a “lapsed atheist” divinity student pediatrician, wrote a story in which God breaks his covenant to never again flood the Earth and buries the world under seven miles of water, spar
Apr 14, 2012 Sharon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually give a rating to a did not finish book, but this book was pretty unpleasant to read. It was joyless, and confusing, and it felt like the author was trying to make it meaningful by throwing a bunch of meaningful-sounding things together into the book and assuming that people would read meaning into it. And a lot of people did, judging by the reviews. I did not.

There were angels, and an apocalypse, but no idea of a god. There were doctors and a hospital, but no notion of what heal
I was reading this for a book club -- I couldn't get it from the library or as an ebook, so I ended up buying it, and I was quite excited about the idea. But I really could not get into it: the length didn't deter me too much, but the utter lack of sympathetic characters or action in the first hundred pages or so was a turn off. So I confess to not having finished this, and not planning to.

I'm not the only one in the group who found it impossible, so I don't feel too bad about it. There are some
Lena Webb
I hit the biggest brick wall ever while reading this novel. What could have been a wonderful piece of modern fiction was instead an overblown, poorly-presented, self-assured, long-winded and ultimately unsatisfying attempt at science fiction.

To be fair, parts of this novel were wonderful. These parts were all contained in a young gay cruise ship passenger's diary, where he documents his sexual exploits in code using Presidents' names.

But in the end, my housemate and I decided that we hated it
Feb 11, 2009 Val rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am struggling to get through this book, of which I have read about a third of. For a short time I found the chraracter study chapters interesting, but then they became routine, and the characters are lacking the development they should by this point in the story.
I am also thinking that had Adrian written less about arcane medical terminology, I would be much more excited about this book. I don't have the time or desire to look up the diseases and procedures he write about in length. I really
Jan 29, 2008 Danny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sarah, Nate, Ira, Elizabeth
This book kept me up at night, NeverEnding story style, rain pounding the windows -- I was left paranoid and enchanted, wondering, hoping it would all come true. My wife would wake up to me shouting out the window into the deluge, "JEMMA!"

The ending left me bewildered and wanting more, but not in a bad way. It felt that it couldn't have ended any other way; it seems complete honest and personal, and I am left needing to know more about Chris Adrian. Did he have a brother that killed himself? Di
Claudia Putnam
Aug 23, 2015 Claudia Putnam rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary-fiction
The writing was great, but I just couldn't trust Adrian's rhetoric/agenda. I could find no way to analyze this book that would hold up, and it doesn't seem as if the reviewers here have had any better luck. The best I could come up with was that we are all going around in thrall to this stupid JudeoChristian storytelling tradition that emerged from one small tribe in one small part of the world and actually has NOTHING to DO with ANYTHING or with most of the world or with reality, and actually w ...more
Mar 05, 2012 Patrick rated it it was ok
Holy mother, what a slog this book was. Where to begin with my frustrations with this read. Okay, first of all, let me just get this off my chest: the novel is absolutely riddled with typos–not exclusively a reflection of Mr Adrian's work, but between the author and the publisher, the sloppiness is inexcusable and distracts enormously from the story that, as a reader, you simply want to lose yourself in.

And about that story: the one element of this book that strikes me most positively is the ima
Kristen Boers
Aug 22, 2007 Kristen Boers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is a fan of literature.
One my my biggest gripes with modern fiction is that there are so few epic tales told in interesting ways. Say what you want about Stephen King, but I have never put down one of his books feeling bored or, worse, uninterested. One of the reasons I love the Harry Potter books is it's grand scope of story. The books I've been most attracted to recently are the ones that manage to tell a story in an interesting way. That's all. Not so hard, right? I read this book, The Children's Hospital, about fo ...more
Nate D
May 26, 2009 Nate D rated it really liked it
I have trouble knowing just what to say about this strange apocalyptic myth about a floating hospital at the end of the world.

I wasn't sure if it was going to work for me at some of the more religiously-minded points, and during an interminable procedural stretch in the middle, but Adrian successfully navigated treacherous narrative waters by avoiding any heavy-handed sermonizing, and keeping things a strange combination of profound and ambiguous. And the slow stretch broke with the book's flaw
Sep 16, 2007 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a really amazing book, I read it in like a week which is really saying something. It's really hard to describe because it was like no other book I have ever read which is probably one of the reasons I liked it so much. I happened to be in public the night I finished it (won't say where because I probably shouldn't have been reading)and had to hide behind the book because I was crying so hard.
Sep 27, 2007 Alexandra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Catholics and lovers.
I waited two years for this book to come out and it changed my life accordingly. While I do not regularly muse on the likelihood of an angry God, Adrian's obsession with sin and consequences is ever fascinating, and his characters/their situation solemnly comment on all aspects of the human condition. I finished this on a plane with tears in my eyes.
Wow, there is so much going on here . . . I feel like an under-prepared hiker does after returning from a long hike they weren't really geared up or ready for. It was longer than I thought. The trails weren't very well marked. Some of the scenery was once in a lifetime, but to get there you have to go through some pretty quotidian territory. The characters started to irritate me after we'd been together too long. And so on, but it was an out of this world place to visit that I'd never been to be ...more
Rachel  Cassandra
Nov 21, 2007 Rachel Cassandra rated it it was amazing
After 615 pages of madness, the book has ended. This is the best book in the world. I understand that there can only be one best book, so if I find a better book, I will come back and change this review.
Jun 25, 2011 Tracy rated it liked it
This book was so difficult to get through. Partly because it was SO long, but also because it had the unfortunate ability to put me to sleep after reading a few pages. This is one of those instances where I felt like I should be getting something deep and thought-provoking out of a story, but really, I was just bored. The whole novel was like some sort of bizarre cross between Grey's Anatomy and Battlestar Galactica, although nowhere near as entertaining as either of those shows. Despite the rav ...more
Jul 25, 2010 Shamzgirl rated it liked it
Loved the beginning, was so tired of it by the end that I read the last page and threw it down. It exhausted me. However, several days later it had worked its way back into my head, and I can't stop thinking about it.

In the chaotic, hedonistic, immediate gratification oriented world we live in today, it's not hard to imagine that we could be on a path of self-destruction (whether through global warming, international warfare, diminishing resources, overpopulation, super-viruses, natural disaste
Amber Anderson
Aug 20, 2008 Amber Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with open minds.
Shelves: novels, favorites
This book took a long time for me to read (its over 600 pages) but Chris Adrians words are beautiful and it was nice to savor them.

The first half of the book is smooth and quick reading. Not because its better than the second half-just because the author is very good at introducing his characters and forming relationships and surprising us. He never abandons these attributes. The story just gets more complex.

I felt a connection with Jemma that I have never felt with any other character. I could
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Chris Adrian was born in Washington D.C. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he attended Harvard Divinity School, and is currently a pediatric fellow at UCSF. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2009. In 2010, he was chosen as one of the 20 best writers under 40 by The New Yorker.
More about Chris Adrian...

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“It takes four angels to oversee an apocalypse: a recorder to make the book that would be scripture in the new world; a preserver to comfort and save those selected to be the first generation; an accuser to remind them why they suffer; and a destroyer to revoke the promise of survival and redemption, and to teach them the awful truth about furious sheltering grace.” 12 likes
“But as surely as the moon rises and the sun sets, depravity passes down through the ages, because there is always a gap between who we are and who we should be, and our parents, molested by regret, conceive us under the false hope that we will be better than them, and everything they do, every hug and blow, only makes certain that we never will be.” 11 likes
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