Greetings, Coma is a thriller novel that was written by American physician and author, Robin Cook, in 1977. It was his first major published work although he had previously penned a short book called ‘The Year of the Intern’ in 1972. Since then Cook has published many novels, two of which I have read. They are named Invasion and Abduction, both about extraterrestrial life on Earth, and I found that reading them was an enjoyable experience. Coma was the first story of his that I had read which lacked a supernatural element or tangent in it. Instead of being a paranormal genre, the story of ‘Coma’ is based on a medical premise with an underlining conspiracy theme.
The story follows a young medical student, Susan Wheeler, who is training at Boston Memorial Hospital. As the events are based in the 1970s Wheeler is practicing in a heavily male dominated field of occupation, a major theme in the novel that is often detrimental to Susan. When she is placed under the supervision of a young surgery resident named Mark Bellows, Susan comes across a comatose patient called Nancy Greenly. It is unclear what caused the patient to fall into a coma as Nancy had entered the operating room for a simple medical procedure that was needed to cure a minor condition. Something went wrong during the operation resulting in the patient becoming unconscious and non-responsive, an event that left the experts puzzled. Greenly is the same age as Wheeler, providing a motivation for Susan to uncover what had lead to the coma.
It isn’t long before the medical student meets her first patient, a man called Sean Berman, who required a small operation on his leg. Susan prepared him for his operation but after a few hours it was revealed that Berman had also mysteriously fallen into a coma. A determined Wheeler starts to research the two cases and begins to find similar incidents that had occurred within the hospital. Her discoveries and investigation are often irritating to the medical staff. As such, Susan comes to the conclusion that there is a conspiracy within the hospital due to the negative reaction her research receives and she attempts to bring Bellows into her investigation despite risking her entire career over a hunch.
Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy ‘Coma’ as much as the other two stories and that is due to a few issues with the novel. These problems include having too much of a long build up to the interesting part of the plot in which the twist is revealed. While it is an interesting story line I felt that some scenes and characters were unnecessary and didn’t add much to the plot. Another notable concern considerable is that a number of characters were not expanded upon, lacked personality and didn’t have much time dedicated to them. Overall, it is a good novel with an interesting protagonist and premise but it pales in comparison to Cooks later works such as Invasion or Abduction.
Quote of the day
Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see? Do you know how much I make a year? I mean, even if I told you, you wouldn't believe it. Do you know what would happen if I suddenly decided to stop going into work? A business big enough that it could be listed on the NASDAQ goes belly up. Disappears! It ceases to exist without me. No, you clearly don't know who you're talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger! A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!