Daniel Roy's Reviews > The Children's Hospital

The Children's Hospital by Chris Adrian
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's review
Mar 07, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: taw-bookclub, fantasy
Read from March 27 to April 19, 2012

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, Adrian chose not to live up to this idea in any significant way. You'd think it would be impossible to turn such an idea into a total bore, but that would be underestimating Adrian's talent for tedium.

Not that there are not some qualities to this book. For starters, the prose is good. There were moments when I enjoyed just reading the daily lives of the doctors as they focused on the hospital life despite the death of civilization outside the hospital walls. But page after page, my frustrations grew stronger and stronger.

For starters, there are simply no likable characters in the book. Jemma, the protagonist, turns out to be boring, self-centered and totally lacking in imagination, despite having lived a unique childhood, and having extraordinary powers and events thrust upon her as an adult. None of this cracks Jemma's shell of self-defeating doubt.

The same holds true of the rest of the cast. At times, the only notion that kept me sane was to repeat to myself that these characters were intended as satire. They certainly had no depth, and they make their way through the lack of plot with the resourcefulness of imbeciles.

The overall effect is of a literary novel that tries very hard to be self-important and clever, but just exhausts you with each page. If this novel had been trimmed down to a slim 150 pages, it might have made for a quirky, cryptic read; but as it stands, it's just a bloated, preachy, self-deluded mess.
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Reading Progress

80.0% "Gawd, please end already..." 4 comments
90.0% "Almost... there... just... a little bit... more..."
10/14/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Fabulous review, Daniel. I'm really glad I didn't finish this one. Thanks for taking one for the team.

message 2: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah "You'd think it would be impossible to turn such an idea into a total bore, but that would be underestimating Adrian's talent for tedium." Yowza! Tell us how you really feel!
Thanks for finishing it so I don't have to.

message 3: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan Yes, thanks to this book I started a new Listopia list:


Unlike many Goodreads' members, I don't have an abandoned or other such shelf. If I don't finish a book and don't want to put it back on my to-read shelf, I completely take it off my shelves.

Daniel Roy Thanks for your kind words on my unkind ones. :) I'm usually very open-minded about books, but I can't stand what I perceive as deluded self-importance.

Laura I agree, I disliked almost every character in this book.

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