Review: Vital Signs (Robin Cook)

The prologue of this book was classic Robin Cook. As Cook described a bacterial infection that is taking place inside the body of one of his characters, I allowed myself to hope that finally I was reading another one of those great medical thrillers that once converted me into a Robin Cook fan. And after that... nothing. There was absolutely nothing that could make me say, "Yes, I'm still a Robin Cook fan!"

Dr. Marissa Blumenthal, who was first introduced in Outbreak, is now in her thirties, married and has a successful pediatrics practice in Boston. Marissa is unable to conceive and is therefore trying to conceive by In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). After she finds out that the cause of her infertility is shared by an unusually large number of women in the clinic, she gets supicious and starts investigating.

Robin Cook's ability to create interesting characters has always been limited, but after reading Outbreak, I would have rated Marissa Blumenthal as one of his better efforts. Which is why I am completely baffled by what he has done to this character. The Marissa in this book is shown to be so insensitive and reckless (qualities that I wouldn't attribute to the old Marissa) that I almost ended up hating her. The husband too was thrown into the plot with absolutely no hint of an introduction.

Except for a cameo for Cyrill Ducheck, none of the characters from the previous book return here. I can't understand why Cook used Marissa here if he didn't want her character to look anything like her old self. He would have been better off creating a new set of characters for this book.

Like I just said, one thing Cook will never be famous for is creating memorable characters, but here he seems to have put in too much effort, which is just as bad. In trying to create a "real" Aussie character in Tristan Williams, he uses so much Aussie slang that even Australians might find it hard to follow the lingo.

Another thing that Cook isn't really good at is writing in any setting outside hospitals or research centers. In this book, he takes us all over the world -- Australia, China, Hong Kong -- but these trips add almost nothing to the story. His research about the medical aspects of his books may be outstanding, but doesn't get close to convincing me about his knowledge about Chinese triads.

The ending too was terrible. It almost seems as if the author suddenly decided, "Hey, I've had enough of this. Lemme finish the story right here!" The loose ends weren't tied up properly and the ending was very abrupt. Overall, I would say that this was a poor effort from Robin Cook. He really should have focused more on the medical side of his story.

Rating. 2/10


heather (errantdreams) said...

Ouch. I have a huge weakness for medical/bio-thrillers, so I was hoping when I saw this review that I'd find another book for the wish list. Sounds like it would annoy the heck out of me, though.

Jaimie said...

Isn't it sad when a series fizzles out like that? It's almost like losing a friend.
Sorry that happened.

Framed said...

Thanks for the warning. I've been tempted to read Robin Cook for a Medical Mystery Challenge but found some others instead. I really liked "Coma" when I read it years ago.

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