Review: Terminal (Robin Cook)

A few years ago, I'd have definitely rated Robin Cook as one of my favorite authors. But for some time now, I've had this feeling that his books have lost their charm and all that medical jargon that used to sound so unique and interesting feels too technical and unnecessary. Fever, Outbreak and Acceptable Risk were the earliest Robin Cook thrillers I read, and I loved all of them. But since then most of his books have been disappointing, and Terminal is perhaps the worst of them all.

A Harvard medical student gets an opportunity to work in a cancer research center with a cent percent remission rate for medulloblastoma patients. When he's not allowed to work on the cancer research project, he starts snooping around and finally discovers that the research center is itself causing the cancer that it later cures, so that the patients donate money generously for "saving" their lives.

Well, that was supposed to be the plot. It's difficult to notice, but if you read carefully enough, you'll find that plot scattered across the book. But for most part Cook goes on and on about -- to roughly quote one of his lines from the book -- "... the new commercialism that is poisoning science in general and medical research in particular..." I do agree that Cook's thrillers generally have a message within them, but this is taking it to a totally different level. This one sounds almost as if it's a preachy message with a thriller hidden somewhere inside it.

Okay, maybe I'm being a bit too harsh here, and having not taken a biology course in more than three years makes the book less easy to understand. But we must remember that the vast majority of this world cannot tell the difference between medulloblastoma and medulla oblongata. Many of the people who read Cook -- like me -- have a very superficial knowledge of the subject and mainly read his books only because they like his plots. (I mean some of his plots. Not this one.)

Robin Cook's strength is his fast paced narrative laced with some medical jargon. I've never read his books for their literary merits, and that's because they don't have any. They're just a story that you read only because the plot keeps you interested right through to the last page. So when the plot gets bogged down with too much of preaching, there's nothing much left in the book to enjoy. Right now I can only hope that the dozen odd of his books that I have yet to read are better than this one. Much better than this one.

My Rating: 3/10


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