Host by Robin Cook
Pros: very intriguing medical story
Cons: horrible characters, an obvious agenda
Decent premise, lots of action, would make a great movie. But, Dear Lord, can Robin Cook stop with the social justice!
I enjoy medical thrillers. And Robin Cook’s Host has a lot going for it. A lot that give this book the suspense-filled intrigue that I expect from this genre. But Cook had an obvious agenda, and he shoved it down our throats.
First the good stuff: When a healthy young man goes in for a routine operation and never wakes up, there’s reason to question what happened. Even stranger is the pattern that is discovered. Apparently Carl isn’t the only person to suffer this fate. His girlfriend Lynn is on the case. Digging around, with the help of her buddy, Michael, the duo will turn every rock to find what is happening.
And as the body count starts to rise, it’s clear that some very powerful people are trying very hard to keep some very bad secrets.
All of that is good stuff, and the reason I enjoy this type of story.
But Michael is black. I know this because it’s mentioned approximately 100 times throughout the story. Not only do they let us know the color of Michael’s skin, but they tell us – over and over again – how much this defines Michael’s life, and how he suffers injustice because of it. Like when they pass a stranger on the street and Michael has to lament how they looked away when he passed. Or how it’s clear that nobody trusts him. And when he goes anywhere with his friend, a white woman, people “raise their eyebrows” and quickly look away. Worse, Michael can speak two languages… the king’s English or black-talk (both are his phrases, not mine). Apparently, depending on the situation at hand, he can choose which way he wants to come off. But then he complains when people appear to judge him or have preconceived notions about who he is.
Look, I’m not saying there’s no racism in this world. And I’m not saying that people never judge others.
I’m just saying that when I read a thriller, I prefer to stick to that which will thrill, intrigue, and interest me. If the author must toss some societal stuff at me, keep it to a minimum. I don’t need it repeated ad nauseum throughout the book. And, frankly, I didn’t like Lynn much better. Here’s a typical Lynn thought: “I know I shouldn’t open that door because there’s someone there trying to kill me – but I just HAVE to open that door”. She’s like the dumb person in every horror movie – the person who runs upstairs instead of out the door.
So, read Host for the medical story – it’s actually quite good. But you’ll be rolling your eyes at a lot of nonsense, too.
Also by Robin Cook