Tuesday 14 September 2010

Hospital - Toby Litt

Apologies for my prolonged absence. Being back at work has taken it out of me a bit. I haven't stopped reading though. I still find time to pick up a book no matter how tired I am. I have read several since my last post but thought I would do a review of one I finished more recently.

I have to confess that I picked out this book mainly for it's cover. I have eyed it up the last couple of years but because I knew of no one who had read it I was put off a little. Then about a month ago I was book shopping. I was looking for a book for the a-z challenge I am doing with a friend and needed an author for L. There was one copy of Hospital on the shelf and it was signed. I decided that this was a sign to finally go ahead and try it.

The book is set in a generic British hospital in a busy city (I am assuming London). My first impression was that it was going to be a romantic comedy. The first character the book focuses on is a young nurse who is new to the trauma team and she is in love with a handsome surgeon (although he is unaware). It came across as very 1950's. You know, those films where the nurse and the Doctor fall in love as they save the day? So I assumed it was going to be a spoof and I settled down to enjoy it as it's just my sense of humour. However, as I read it became something else entirely.

Some of the trauma team were conspiring and I assumed them to be having an affair. Turns out they were actually organising a satanic ritual involving a sacrifice. A nurse made entirely out of rubber wanders the hauls doling out punishment and no one sees this as a little strange. The porters are preparing for a voodoo ritual. A mysterious young boy wonders the halls just trying to get home. Not so strange is a young couple giving birth to their first set of twins. This all culminates into the outside world disappearing and everyone starts to miraculously heal. All except one man who arrives at the start of the book and can't wake up.

I only have a few criticisms. The first is that it was a little slow going. It seemed to drag a little before anything happened but I can understand why. The author wanted to set up the scene and and a pace that slowly speeds up. The second is not really the fault of the author just my own squeamish nature. I found some of the scenes a little hard to take. Particularly those involving the Satanists. My stomach turned at a few of them and I even had to do some skimming. I also felt that despite speeding up towards the end that it dragged on a little. I think though that has more to do with me than the book as I have found that with most books I have read over the last few months. I loved the bizarre nature of the book. At times it bordered on the ridiculous and this appealed to me. I also loved the fact that Toby Litt is writing books for each letter of the alphabet. Makes it a little apt that I decided to read this one for the a-z challenge.