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1.7 out of 5 stars
Shock
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Showing 1-10 of 32 reviews(2 star)show all reviews
on June 3, 2003
Given Robin Cook's phenomenal success, his name usually gets my interest. After listening to the audio version of "Shock", I was sadly reminded that consistently good authors are increasily difficult to come by.
The basic premise of this book is the lengths two Harvard graduates, Joanna and Deborah, go to in order to find out what happened to the eggs they donated to the mysterious Wingate Fertility Clinic. The idea itself is not a bad one and could have lent itself to quite a riveting story. However, this one is so badly done that by the time the lousy ending arrives, you're ready to have Robin Cook sent to the Wingate Clinic to have his head examined.
First, let me air my main complaint with the audio "voice" of the character of Joanna. She's a supposed native of Houston, Texas. The reader's use of a Southern accent is comical and comes off as a Tallulah Bankhead wannabe. It grates mightily on the ear. You can sound Southern without sounding like this.
That said, the other fault lie with Cook's assumption that his readers are going to suspend reality for most of the book. Joanna and Deborah go to great lengths to secure false identities in order to become Wingate employees. For a fertility clinic that is supposedly as secure as Fort Knox, it's surprisingly easy to get a job there. They don't even do criminal background checks, drug tests or call references. In fact, the girls get hired the day they're interviewed! How convenient! It's also amazingly easy to hack into the computer files, too.
Cook's other characters tend to be one-dimensional personalities. Founder Spender Wingate is especially awful as an arrogant, self-absorbed egoist in search of beautiful women and financial success. Head of Security Kurt has pyscho written all over him. Especially his desire to rid the world of "trashy" women. None of these characters are even remotely fleshed our or given true identities.
As others have noted, the book's ending is unacceptable. It has "SEQUEL" written all over it. However, I personally no longer cared what happened to any of these people by this time so I suppose it's apropos of my experience.
All in all, this book stinketh!
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on November 4, 2002
Maybe it's time for Robin Cook to do what he went to med school for, or retire--one of the two. His characters become more and more cookie-cutter with every book. Plus he seems intent on picking up every medical front page story and running with it--in this case, stem cell research and human cloning. The technology is believable, due to the fact that Cook is a doc. After all, Joe Wambaugh wrote good cop books because he was one. Likewise Grisham, because he's a lawyer. But the characters, for crying out loud! Two grad students donate eggs to a fertility clinic to pick up extra cash. Then the next thing you know, one of them decides now that it's too late that she wants to know what happens to hers. Despite the fact that they told her up front that it was against policy. So the pair go undercover to snoop for the info. Once dresses up as a cliche bimbo, the other goes for the opposite extreme. They get jobs in the place. The computer guy is the cliche computer nerd, immaturity and social ineptness and all. The teaser chapter is even worse--an earlier donor dies on the table because of a surgical blunder. I guess somebody has to croak early on to make it a suspense story, right? Cook apparently thinks so--everything he writes starts out that way. Maybe his weakness is rapid-fire publication--22 books in 27 years. Crichton has published 13 in 33 years, and each of his books shows the greater amount of time spent on it. Or maybe it wouldn't be a good idea for Cook to go back into practice after all. I can see him having trouble with hospital privieges. With his gadfly approach to hot-button medical issues, I'd be a bit leery about letting him work in any hospital I was admistrator of.
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on June 8, 2002
Well, Robin Cook has done it again. Following in the footsteps of Abduction, he has managed to produce another uninspiring novel that is more boring than it is intriguing. The novel is laced with spelling errors and gramatical errors. It is also full of annoying mannerisms reminicsent of his earlier novels. By the end of the novel each of his main characters had "rolled" their eyes more than a hundred times that I was surprised that they still had eyes in their sockets. Cook also enjoys using phrases from his earlier novels. His characters constantly say, "Oh, that is so apropos." One suggestion I have for Cook is that he retire from the writing trade before he makes a complete mockery of himself. The plot of the novel is less than inspiring and is highly predictable. The two female characters he uses as the protagonists of the novel are irritating and not to mention of below average intelligence. I felt as though it was a chore getting through the novel in its entirety. I would have given this novel a single star had it not been for the scientific and medical aspects. I do not recommend this novel to anyone. Save your money and above all your time.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 28, 2001
Deborah Cochrane and Joanna Meissner, two graduate students answer an ad in their campus newspaper to be egg donors. Egg donors were paid $45,000.00 and the women saw this is as the ideal opportunity to ride the gravy train.
The first stop the train makes is in a former asylum which has been converted into a fertility clinic. The place boasts of a farm, livestock and a very shadowy past and equally shadowy present.
Both women participate as egg donors and, with their newly earned largesse, spend a year in Italy completing their dissertations. When they return to Boston, they are determined to discover the fate their eggs have met.
Genetic experimentation, cross breeding and other reproductive horrors await the women upon their return. The clinic itself is a rather gothic institution, replete with guards and other questionable personnel. The ending was a scene straight out of Dodge City.
Although the story was riveting, it was very disturbing and certainly not up to Dr. Cook's usual high caliber. This was not good FROM HIM because he is capable of so much better than this.
Skip this one. Read "Mutation," "Toxin," "Vector" or "Fatal Cure" instead.
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on September 22, 2001
"Shock" plays out like a very bad Charlie's Angels episode. The fact that the two main characters, Deborah and Joanna, are two women who were educated at the country's most elite university in very challenging fields is simply not believable. Their decision to donate their eggs doesn't merit careful consideration and thought, it is a spur of the moment decision motivated mainly by the desire to buy a condo and go to Italy for a year. Similarly, their decision to track down their eggs a year and a half later is equally random. Joanna is shocked when the clinic director won't tell her what happened to the eggs she donated, so she and Deborah disguise themselves, steal id's, and go to work for the clinic where they donated the eggs. There's no explanation given for why they want to know what happened to the eggs, so their decision to steal id's to work at the clinic is somewhat bewildering and lends a false tone to the rest of the book.
For the most part, everything about this book is just preposterous. The way Deborah and Joanna stole the false identifications would never happen, and even more unlikely is their getting hired at the clinic. A simple background check would have revealed their true identities easily. The villains of "Shock" are so ridiculously cartoonish, I laughed out loud several times. I don't the book was supposed to be humorous, but it is, uintentionally on Cook's part I'm sure. Of the many incongruous plot turns, the most unbelievable one occurs when the lecherous clinic owner invites Deborah to dinner, and gets drunk so that's how Deborah and Joanna are able to swipe his key and gain access to the secret computer room. From there they are able to divine all of the clinic's secrets and solve the mystery. The ending is equally ridiculous and lame brained, though in fairness to Cook, it is no more out in left field than the rest of the book.
This is a bad book by anyone's standards, but it is especially disappointing coming from Robin Cook who has been my favorite medical thriller author in the past. The only reason I didn't give the book one star is that his description of the preparation of the eggs for fertilization in the beginning of the book is written with his signature attention to detail and makes science fascinating. Too bad the rest of the book is all down hill from there.
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on September 16, 2001
How low can he sink? Robin Cook's new medical thriller, "Shock," is shocking in only one respect. How can an author with Cook's reputation write a book so hackneyed, wooden and lacking in suspense as this one?
The protagonists are Joanna Meissner and Deborah Cochrane, two beautiful and brainy doctoral students. Yet, for all of their intellectual prowess, these two women see nothing fishy in an advertisement in the "Harvard Crimson" for egg donors. The ad offers forty-five thousand dollars to every egg donor that the clinic accepts.
Naively, the two women go to the Wingate Infertility Clinic, and they donate their eggs. They women take a glorious trip to Italy with their newfound wealth. Over a year later, they decide to look into the fate of their donated eggs by finding employment in the Wingate Clinic and doing some snooping. Joanna and Deborah predictably find out that the Wingate Clinic is engaged in some very questionable and unethical research. Will the ladies be able to get the authorities to help them before they are captured and killed by the nasties who run the clinic?
Joanna and Deborah are two of the most ridiculous sleuths that I have ever seen. They are like two overaged Nancy Drews, coming up with one presposterous plan after another. Their dialogue is stilted and silly and their behaviour is immature and inane. Deborah dresses like a hooker to avoid being recognized at the clinic and her ridiculous getup becomes a silly recurring joke. The book peters off at the end and Cook offers no real resolution to the asinine plot.
The premise of the book, namely that fertility clinics are the ideal setting for reproductive chicanery, has been done before many times. Cook breaks no new ground here. "Shock" is witless, dull and without any literary merit whatsover.
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on April 2, 2003
This can be a fun read, if you are willing to suspend belief for most of the book. It has its thrilling parts (espionage, chase scenes, etc.) it's just not all that believable.
In summery, two young women working on their doctoral theses respond to a newspaper ad in a campus newspaper for egg donors. The infertility clinic is offering an unbelievable amount of money for the donations. You know what they say about something that seems to be too good to be true? Well apparently these Harvard educated girls have never heard that saying. The rest of the book goes on to show what the infertility clinic is really up to. Unfortunately, the plot has to rely on the stupidity of the girls to make it work. I don't think Robin could come up with a plausible ending for the story, so he just ended it anyway.
It wasn't a complete waste of time though, I enjoyed parts of it and it isn't all that long.
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on August 16, 2002
Robin Cook has a talent for choosing hot-button medical themes for his thrillers. In this case, two female students earn money by donating their eggs to a fertility clinic. Later, they get curious about the fate of those eggs. Did they produce children? When their inquiries meet a blank wall, they penetrate the clinic by applying for jobs there. Their nosiness uncovers a sinister side to the clinic's work, but inevitably gets them into serious trouble with their bosses. This could have been interesting if the dialogue were more credible. Unfortunately, all the characters speak in stilted voices. The two women, who are completing their doctorates, come across as Valley Girls. The clinic's lecherous head acts like a buffoon; his chief of security is a stereotypical fascist. All this diminishes the impact of what could have been a scary story.
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on September 27, 2001
One of the very first novels I read was Coma by the same author. And I loved it. I even got my sister hooked on him. However, I have to agree with many of the reviews on this list. My biggest complaint about this book is how fake the dialogue is between the characters. The action sequences (or lack thereof) slightly builds and never finishes. The psychological aspects of what the characters had to go through don't have any realism. Sad to say that although this book is very simply written and easy to understand and follow, it contains a rather predictable plot. Moreover, cloning has such broad implications that to waste it by focusing on the Wingate clinic and its facilities and security system is shameful.
I really hope the next novel I read by this author doesn't fall into the same pitfalls this one does.
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on September 1, 2001
I own and have read every one of Robin Cook's books, some several times. They are riveting, exciting and well written.
With Shock, I was in shock. Here are two female post grads from Harvard, no less, with newly acquired Doctorates in Economics and Microbiology. Then in comes Laverne & Shirley. How Cook expected to pass this off as a well written mystery beats me, the two girls giggled, argued, made a mockery out of average intelligence(to wit, the first and only day on the job, like no one noticed they took 1/2 hour breaks every hour, met at the water fountain and disappeared with no notice) and it was supposed to be a medical mystery. The only mystery is how he managed to keep a straight face as he wrote it. Would not recommend it at all. Unless you get it free or on loan, but remember, I told you so.
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