Book review: Host by Robin Cook

Monday, October 26, 2015 Permalink

It’d been a very long time since I’d read a book by Robin Cook. I have a vague inkling that I read much of his work at the same time I read Stephen King and inhaled a never-ending supply of spy and espionage books by Robert Ludlum, David Morrell, John LeCarre et al. You know… WAY back in the 1990s.

However… I struggled a little with Cook’s latest—Host—probably for the very reasons I once enjoyed his work.

The blurb

Lynn Pierce, a fourth-year medical student at Mason Dixon University, thinks she has her life figured out. But when her otherwise healthy boyfriend, Carl, enters the hospital for routine surgery, she doesn’t know it’s the last time she will see him whole again.

Devastated by Carl’s death, Lynn searches for answers. Convinced there’s more to the story than what the authorities are willing to reveal, Lynn uses all her resources at Mason Dixon-including her initially reluctant lab partner, Edward-to hunt down evidence of medical error or malpractice.

What she uncovers, however, is far more disturbing. Hospitals associated with Sentinel Healthcare, including the one attached to Mason Dixon, have unnervingly high rates of unexplained anaesthetic complications and patients contracting serious and terminal illness in the wake of routine surgery.

When Lynn and Edward begin to receive death threats, they know they’re into something bigger than either of them anticipated. They soon enter a desperate race against time for answers before shadowy forces behind Sentinel Healthcare can put a stop to their efforts once and for all.

robin cook host

My thoughts

In short… I’m sorry Robin. It’s not you, it’s me!

My main problem with this book is that… I had to think too much. Not in an over-analysing way, which I quite enjoy, though suck at. (Big time!) Rather I had to focus because a HUGE amount of detail came my way and I struggled with the question of whether I needed to take it all in. Cook’s own medical background is at the heart of his work and I wouldn’t be surprised if medically/scientifically trained peeps read his books and find themselves nodding furiously. Though for me there was a bit too much detail. #informationoverload

I’m also not a conspiracy theory fan so struggled once the book drifted into that direction. I think I’ve lost interest in espionage type books for the same reason. I need to understand my baddie. I don’t want them to be some business conglomerate, pharmaceutical company or government agency. I want them to be a psychopathic killer with mother issues. Or similar.

Despite all of that I kept reading Host because I came to care for our two lead characters. Lynn and Edward, who have their lives ahead of them and hope to achieve great things. The threats they face are two-fold… firstly the very obvious threat of death; but also the ‘powers that be’ are able to destroy them professionally.

The book’s well written and paced and exceedingly believable. It includes A LOT of seemingly-feasible technical information… if that’s your kind of thing.

As I said… my struggle with this book was more about me than the book itself. Lovers of suspense or medical / scientific thrillers (and conspiracy theories) will adore this novel.

Host by Robin Cook will be released in Australia by Pan Macmillan on 27 October 2015.

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    October 26, 2015

    Hmmm. I’ll think about it. I don’t mind technical stuff if it’s medical in nature. I do prefer my villains to be psychotic individuals rather than corporations too. I get you.

    • Debbish
      October 26, 2015

      So glad as so few people do… 🙂

  • Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library
    October 26, 2015

    I have a feeling this wouldn’t be a book for me either. I don’t love medical dramas and conspiracy theories dont’ particularly interest me. I think I read one of Cook’s books several years ago (or something that sounds similar) and felt much the same as you did on this one. I think I’ll pass!

    • Debbish
      October 26, 2015

      It’s definitely a page-turner Katherine, just not one for me…

  • Lola
    October 27, 2015

    It can be hard to read books like that were the author has a lot of in depth knowledge about a field, especially when you don’t. Partials by Dan Wells is a book I have read where the author got pretty technical, but I was able to follow it just barely. It’s good when an author when he knows what he’s talking about, but it can be overwhelming to the reader if you go into too much depth. The characters do sound well done, it’s always a good thing if you like the characters in a book. Great review!

    • Debbish
      October 27, 2015

      Thanks Lola. I tend to skim if it seems irrelevant and is too technical which I did here. Probably if there’d been a single person (with an agenda) at the centre of the crime I would have been much happier.

  • onecurvyblogger
    October 28, 2015

    I’ve been there, when a book just took to much thought process. Sometimes you just wanna lose yourself in a book and it sounds like it would be hard to do so with Host. Never read Cook’s works but I do like this genre so I will have to try his books sometime!

    • Debbish
      October 28, 2015

      Yes do as I know he has a lot of fans so many really love his work.


  • Susanne
    November 6, 2015

    I used to read Robin Cook a lot when I was younger. I loved how they were connected to the medical world, I was just going into the nursing thing when I read his books. I read his book “Fever” and loved it, then one or two others that I don’t remember. This one sounds interesting. Maybe it’s more suitable for people who have some medical knowledge?

    • Debbish
      November 6, 2015

      Absolutely Susanne. A friend of mine who was a nurse is very keen to read it!

  • dutch
    February 8, 2020

    his books are amazing

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