Patrick is a young man with a mission - to find out the meaning of death. And having Asperger's Syndrome means that he takes his mission to extremes. When he signs up for a course in anatomy, his team is tasked with dissecting cadaver Number 19 to see if they can spot the cause of death. Meantime, elsewhere in the hospital, Sam is in a coma, but although he can't wake up he can see and hear what's going on around him and it's not all good. But Sam is gradually coming back and is desperate to regain the ability to speak...
Grisly, macabre and in places gloriously blackly funny, this book is a compulsive read. It may be a cliché, but I really couldn't put it down. Bauer doesn't hold back in describing the ghastly horrors of the dissecting room or the tragedies and cruelty of the coma ward but rather brilliantly manages to keep just enough lightness of tone to make these subjects not just bearable but weirdly enjoyable. The characterisation is excellent; Patrick, with all his misunderstandings of other people's responses and vice versa, is particularly well drawn, a likeable and sympathetic hero whose sometimes outrageous actions somehow manage to make perfect sense. But the other characters are well developed too: Meg, a fellow student of Patrick's, dragged into his mission despite her better judgement; Sam, the coma patient; Tracy, the nurse who's trying to catch a man; and, not least, Patrick's mother, driven nearly to distraction by her son's odd behaviour. The plotting is good and more complex than it seems at first sight; it moves along at a fair pace and the author pulls all the threads satisfyingly together at the end.
Original, well written and gruesomely entertaining, this is a great read that I think takes Bauer to a new level - highly recommended.
NB This review is of a proof copy provided free of charge by the publisher.
48 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?