Medicine, magic, the biblical story of Noah and sociological ruminations about Americans in the throes of the apocalypse come together in physician Adrian's hip, wry and ambitious debut. When the world is submerged beneath seven miles of water, only those aboard the Children's Hospital, a working medical facility and ark built by architect turned prophet John Grampus (who was ordered by God "to save the kids") survive. Four chatty, digressive and at times grimly comic angels (the recorder, the preserver, the accuser and the destroyer) narrate this epic tale, which follows heart-sick medical student Jemma and the hospital's other unlikely inhabitants (such as the overly-cutely-named Dr. Snood and Ethel Puffer) as they attempt to ensure humanity's survival and live by virtue of the ship's "replicators," heaven-sent devices that can make "apples out of old shoes; shoes out of shit." Eventually, Jemma discovers her magical ability to heal the sick. As fragments of her tragic past come to light, so do clues about humanity's future, and, after 200 days at sea, what part Jemma will finally play in it. This dense and lengthy satirical-but-sincere novel may challenge readers' patience with its fairy-tale-like characters and its long-windedness, but Adrian's knack for surprise and his ability to find meaning in seemingly ridiculous situations is rewarding.
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*Starred Review* In Adrian's second novel, an elegant and enormously wondrous monstrosity, the world comes to an end, drowned beneath seven miles of water. All that is preserved is a solitary children's hospital and its occupants. Presiding over the apocalypse are four angels who often are indistinguishable from demons: one to chronicle and one to accuse, one to protect and one to punish. Within the floating hospital, medical student Jemma Claflin discovers that a fearsome healing fire burns within her, a fire that she uses to cleanse the hideously diseased children of their "wrongness." It is useless, however, against the greater wrongness of the rest of her ark mates, who struggle to maintain some semblance of normalcy amidst the confounding swirl of the end-time. Adrian, poetically and with exacting precision, has crafted a prophetic, difficult novel of compassion and healing, but with a keen eye fixed on the damning reach of divine wrath. The scalpel's edge between grace and violence, between healing and putrefaction, can scarcely distinguish life as an obscene abomination from the miracle it suffers to be. Adrian attempts a near-impossible summit, and delivers a devastating, transformative work that is certain to burn in the minds of readers long after the final page's end of the end of the world. Ian Chipman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.