Sara's Reviews > Beat the Reaper

Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
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's review
Jul 07, 2008

really liked it
Recommended to Sara by: I picked it up at Book Expo America
Recommended for: Anyone over 18 years of age, Action-Thriller Fans, Open-Minded Readers, Medical Fiction Fans
Read in July, 2008

Coming off The Given Day, I was not expecting much from this. For one thing, it's a debut novel and for another, there's very little that could compete, quality-wise, with The Given Day. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel.

The novel is centered around Dr. Peter Brown, a young medical resident with a hidden past that catches up with him one day when he encounters a patient who knew him from his previous life as a mob hitman. Dr. Brown's identity revealed, he sets off on a frenetic-paced quest to keep his patient alive. To divulge any further plot points would do a disservice to the author and his work.

Given the premise, the events that follow would seem highly predictable and yet the novel keeps you guessing throughout. The most unusual thing? It has footnotes and they're actually essential to understanding the narrator (it's a first-person narrative) and are all oddly fascinating. I was a bit disappointed that the novel wrapped up so quickly, I don't know how the author could have accomplished it, but I would have liked if the denouement had dragged out a bit more. I did greatly enjoy the narrator's digressive and informative tone and each anecdote he shares, sheds a bit more light on Dr. Brown. I'm not a fan of action-thriller novels, but I couldn't tear myself away from this one. Pick it up in '09 if this review has piqued your interest. Word of warning though, it's not for everyone and there are several sections that are very graphic. All in all, it's a really fun and surprisingly educational novel.
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