When I started reading Robin Cook’s novel Host, I thought that anyone going to the hospital soon for any major or minor procedure should not read it. Once I got a little further in I decided that, considering how ridiculous the novel is, perhaps it would be a good reading choice as it is unlikely your visit could go any worse than that of Carl’s, one of the characters in Host. He goes into South Carolina’s Mason-Dixon Medical Center for routine surgery and never wakes up. He ends up in a coma and is soon transferred from the Medical Center to the Shapiro Institute, a nearby location that specializes in caring for those in long term comas.
Carl’s botched procedure sets off a series of events that involve Lynn, Carl’s medical school student girlfriend, Lynn’s friend and fellow medical student Michael, Sandra Wykoff, the anesthesiologist for Carl’s procedure, and, best of all, some Russian thugs with memories of the Chechen Wars still dancing in their heads. While the plot of Host quickly becomes ridiculous, it is a very entertaining kind of ridiculous. I don’t know if I would enjoy a realistic medical thriller, but Cook’s novel really worked for. He keeps the plot twists coming, populates the book with likeable but not overly complex characters, and ups the weirdness just when you thought things couldn’t get any weirder.