Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review: Trauma by Michael Palmer and Daniel Palmer

Title: Trauma
Author: Michael Palmer & Daniel Palmer
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Release date: May 12th 2015
Pages: 384
Genre: Adult mystery/medical thriller
Source: NetGalley - I received a free eGalley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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Dr. Carrie Bryant's is a much-admired neurosurgical resident at an esteemed Boston hospital. But when her first unsupervised brain surgery goes horribly wrong, she loses her confidence-and, after another fateful misstep, Carrie decides to quit her residency and move back home. Her new life's purpose: To help her combat-vet brother, Adam, recover from a crippling case of post-traumatic stress disorder.
At first, the experimental program at the VA Medical Center-one that could forever cure the ravages of PTSD-seems like best option for Adam. But Carrie has her doubts when one of her patients goes missing...and then another. Carrie turns to local investigative reporter David Hoffman for help in getting answers. But the VA organization is determined to keep its secrets-at all costs. As Carrie and David descend into a labyrinth of murder and corruption, the price Carrie could pay for asking the wrong questions is her own life...
My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I haven't read many medical thrillers, so I might not be the best judge, and I can't really compare Trauma to any other books in the genre. But I was just very disappointed by this book. I was excited about the premise because I tend to like mysteries with female MCs that combine suspense with a more personal story, and I thought the PTSD element might be an interesting twist. But unfortunately, the awkward writing and implausibilities made it hard for me to enjoy this book.

I feel really mean saying this, but the writing felt very amateur-ish; this felt very much like a debut novel, or even an unpublished manuscript, which is kind of surprising for accomplished writers (although I had never read anything by Michael or Daniel Palmer). The writing is just so awkward, with bad metaphors and all telling and no showing. A lot of the over-the-top descriptions had me rolling my eyes, and I was always so focused on the awkwardness of the writing that I could never actually get lost in the writing.

The characters had a lot of potential. Carrie is actually an interesting character, I really liked David, and Adam adds an interesting element to the story as well. But the writing kept me from actually feeling for these characters. Because I associated the melodramatic wordings with Carrie's voice, I couldn't really take her seriously, and since the awkwardness of the writing was so distracting, I couldn't actually feel for Carrie or David. The romance between Carrie and David is especially cheesy and the descriptions of Carrie's attraction to David made me seriously question the authors' ability to write a female MC. 

I understand that this is a medical thriller, but, to be honest, the excessive medical terms and explanations kind of bored me. I actually enjoyed them in the beginning, during Carrie's first surgery, but after that it just got too much. Of course a story like this needs some medical explanations to show its accuracy, and it did seem like the authors knew what they were talking about, but for readers like me, the amount of medical information was unnecessary; it was just too much and too confusing for someone outside of the field to follow. I got so bored by all of this information that I didn't even try to follow it towards the ending. The ending, to me, seemed very far-fetched and didn't justify everything that happened in the story, and one of my biggest pet peeves about mysteries is when the bad guy doesn't have adequate motivations.

The set-up seemed intriguing and had potential, but it just doesn't work. The awkward writing and far-fetched twists made it very hard for me to care about this story, and I don't think I can recommend it.


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