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The Children's Hospital Hardcover – August 22, 2006

3.5 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 615 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; 1St Edition edition (August 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932416609
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932416602
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,546,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brett Benner VINE VOICE on January 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Yes there's no contesting Chris Adrian is a skillfull and talented writer, and through the first hundred pages or so I was completely enthralled. Yet by the end, the lesson learned was on reserving judgement on a book until you finish it. The plot is ambitious and fantastic: A modern reworking of the Noah's Ark story with the survivors of a world wide flood contained in a floating hospital. (truly.)

The story is broken into three 'events' that propel the narrative forward,(the first being the flood) and to give the other two away would be to deny a reader the fun for having the sheer vivacity to push through to the end. For me it became hard going. The fact I had no idea where the book was headed which was great, but the energy it took to plod through protracted passages that go on for pages was enough to almost make me put the book away, except for the fact I wanted to see how it turned out.

At the end of the day, when I finish a book, I have to ask myself who could I recommend this to? Sadly the answer to this was no one. If the plot doesn't derail some people, the exhaustive text will. I'm giving the impression I didn't like it, and that's not entirely the case. I just found myself working extremely hard for something that didn't pay off the way I hoped or imagined.
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Format: Hardcover
"The Children's Hospital" opens with the end of the world and builds in directions both pedestrian and transcendental from there. Part tale of and by an unlikely hero of a medical student, part mythic narrative as thought by the recording angel responsible for watching and chronicling events that represent a third covenant of God with the world, Adrian jumps back and forth between his ghosts deftly. It turns out that our world ends under seven sudden miles of water, the survivors those caught on a random night in a very unusual children's hospital. The remarkable order to their situation slowly starts to reveal. The recording angel doesn't try to hide this from you, but foreshadows much of the order that defines the rest of the book fairly quickly. And by the way, Stephen King should eat his pen in envy of Adrian's ability to deliver a thought worthy payoff to a book hundreds of pages after the actual apocalypse wraps up.

Per his interviews, Adrian is a student at 'divinity school' and a fan of 'American religious history.' Christian readers might mind the absence of Jesus, except as a curse word. The one oblique New Testament reference is to Satan, though I still can't figure out if he was in the book. The pattern of the 'Thing' seems like the sort of thing the Old Testament God was always pulling, and that is at least satisfying.

Though this book can't be read as future history, Adrian speaks to our times well. Death is Adrian's other purported obsession, and I believe I think of death a little bit differently now, especially after the stirring last few pages. A hospital is a place that rages against death to the very end. Perhaps it is appropriate that the apparent last moment of sin and death in human history would occur in one.
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Format: Hardcover
Oh, my God, the frustration. I couldn't put this book down. Even when the flashbacks dragged on. Even when I couldn't keep track of what was a dream and what was actual action. This book consumed me for three days. There were so many questions - What's the significance of the King's Daughter? What was Calvin's "sacrifice" if the preserving angel didn't have to be mortal first too? What happened to the book that Calvin wrote that Jemma threw into the ocean? - all left unanswered, and not in the way that leaves you feeling like the author has skillfully crafted ambiguity for interpretation, but in the way that makes you think the author has taken on so much that he can't help but forget about the questions raised earlier.

Like I said, I couldn't put it down, which speaks for the book's spell-like grip it had on me. But as beautiful as it was, I'm unbelievably furious at this book for leaving me with nothing but a pervasive sense of grief and a headache.
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Format: Hardcover
Chris Adrian's THE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL is a prodigious and darkly imagined tale of the Second Flood, or as his characters call it, the Thing. In this modern-day watery apocalypse, Noah returns in the guise of one John Grampus, an architect guided by angelic divine inspiration to design a nine-story children's hospital capable of floating like a ship. Grampus's plans are exotic beyond his wildest imaginings - he does not understand much of what he is designing, nor will he know its full capabilities and purpose until after the event occurs. Since the book opens with the beginning rainfalls of the second great flood, we learn about most of this in hindsight. We never witness the stages of doubt and disbelief Grampus must have endured, but Grampus is not the focus of Mr. Adrian's story. Rather, it is the bizarre, almost grotesquely ill children under care in this hospital who are the primary concern, along with a self-doubting, short-memoried, barely competent medical intern named Jemma Claflin (note the initials J.C.), her psychotically self-mutilating deceased brother Calvin, and her beau, Dr. Rob Dickens.

An angel guides John Grampus in constructing the world's first uprootable floating hospital -- complete with post-Flood self-expansion capability and replicators that can recreate virtually anything from the "old world" - and angels occupy a significant place in the post-apocalyptic era. "It takes four angels to oversee an apocalypse," Adrian tells us early in his story: a recording angel, a preserving angel, an accusing angle, and a destroying angel. The reader is left to discover the identity of each angel and how they effectuate their designated roles.
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