3 out of 4 stars
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Review of "Days of the Giants" by RJ Petrella.
In the 1990s, Slater Barnes becomes a medical intern at one of Boston's most demanding teaching hospitals. Barnes has medical issues of his own and he has to find a way to balance his personal life and his career. Before the start of his internship, Barnes is uncertain about a future as a doctor; his passion for medicine has waned over the years and he is a bit disillusioned. However, his passion is reignited at Boston City Hospital and he is given something to fight for. He and his colleagues choose to defend the hospital against corrupt city officials when the need arises. Then tragedy strikes when a resident is murdered.
It should be noted that the book begins with the murder of the resident in the prologue. The resident is the first character mentioned in this book and this piqued my interest because I've always liked medical dramas.
Also in the prologue, there is mention of a person carrying a "large portable cassette player"; this made me know the story was set sometime in the 1990s even before the year is stated. I really like when a book engages the reader's mind like that by dropping little details that help the reader figure out other details.
At the end of the prologue, I discovered that the book was being narrated in the first person. The first chapter also revealed that the book in fact had two first person narrators who happened to be father and son, the son being the book's protagonist, Doctor Slater Barnes.
The fact that the book is partly narrated by the protagonist gives insight into his thought process, his feelings and his personality. The author made some deliberate mistakes to show just how jumbled up the protagonist's thoughts were sometimes. The protagonist was really well written, truly a round character. He craves companionship while, at the same time, needing personal privacy; this shows how complicated a person can be and sheds some light on human nature.
I did not have a problem with the way the narration switched between two narrators. It was a bit confusing at first but I later got the hang of it. However, it did not make sense that, at a certain point in the tenth chapter, one of the narrators knew exactly what another character, a hospital patient was feeling. In my opinion, a first person narrator does not have this ability, only an omniscient one does.
What I liked least about this book was that the story took too long to take off. There is a thin line between suspense and beating around the bush and the latter was the case with this book.
Finally, I recommend this book to people who are interested in medicine, drama and mystery. It deals with human selfishness on the part of the corrupt city officials as well as selflessness on the part of Barnes and his colleagues, and the hard choices people have to make. I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars, I enjoyed reading it very much.
Days of the Giants
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