Friday, 29 April 2016

Harvest by Tess Gerritsen - Book Review

5/5 Stars

Over her dead body...


Edition: Paperback
Pages: 510
Chapters: 26
Publisher: Bantam Books

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


Harvest is a new kind of read for me, a medical thriller that is rich with the author's knowledge and experience. It's a read I am now adamant I want more of.

Tess weaves an adrenaline-infused cross of medical drama and conspiracy thriller, all backed by the authenticity she brings to the table with her medical background. It's so close to reality that the chills and shivers you experience are hard to shake even when you put the novel down. 

You'll face morals and money, love and the lengths people go to for it, and a haze of paranoia so profound that you'll begin to question the protagonist's sanity as well as your own.

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Dr Abby DiMatteo is a second-year surgery resident in Boston, living her exhausting dream while saving lives.
But when she's forced into a position where she must choose the recipient of a heart transplant, things spiral out of control.
Abby decides the seventeen-year-old boy who's higher on the registry should get the heart, only to infuriate a powerful and sinister man who doesn't take kindly to not getting what he wants.
But just as things reach fever pitch, another heart becomes available, a miracle too hard to believe.
One Abby can't ignore.
The new heart has no donor records, no path back to its origin.
And as Dr DiMatteo digs deeper into the mystery, her very own life is put at risk...

Plot - 5/5 Stars

Harvest's beginning manages to be both brutal and intriguing, mixing the author's medical knowledge and storytelling talents in a wonderfully compelling way. The details can sometimes be hard to swallow, even hard to fully comprehend, but Tess's skill is as terrifying as it is terrific.

One of the more mundane aspects of the novel (I say mundane, but I found them utterly hooking) is the day-to-day work our main character goes through. It's a fascinating look from the inside that breaks your heart. Doctors work hard, I don't think anyone would disagree with that, but the author encapsulates those exhausted emotions in a very palpable way.

And as those day-to-day activities merge with Abby's restless hunt to uncover the mystery of a new miraculous heart, the reader is bombarded with thrills and chills. It's hard to believe and frightening to behold, but as the conspiracy deepens and Abby's isolation becomes more pronounced, we even begin to question everything we've been shown.

Thankfully, a scattering of other viewpoints helps to keep the reader sane. The plot is exceptional and every corner of the grotesque is illuminated. Tension boils and tantalising twists start the countdown to the finale, which is so suspenseful you'll find every muscle in your body bunched up tight.

Pace - 5/5 Stars

Harvest has a slow, steady plot which only really picks up 3/4 of the way through. Surprisingly, for me anyway (he who loves action), this is a pro and not a con. This novel isn't about car chases and shootouts (although those do happen), but focuses on emotion and details, pulling both off in a way the reader can't help but appreciate.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

Gerritsen crafts a distinctive, but illusive, cast. You are constantly overwhelmed with distrust and fear: Can Abby trust this person? What about them, are they an ally, or an enemy? It's Thrilling with a capital T. 

Abby herself is more than capable of carrying the plot. Kind and intelligent, she's the doctor everyone wants at their bedside. But the author doesn't stretch her, and by that I mean that the circumstances surrounding the story overwhelm her. She doesn't react well and is naive in a lot of ways, keeping our viewpoint grounded and realistic.

Writing - 5/5 Stars

One of the biggest pros of this novel is just how well the author conveys the dizzying array of emotions. From the warm and compassionate to the convoluted and paranoid, everything is tangible. The story flows smoothly; the characters progress naturally; and the conclusion leaves no unanswered questions.

Overall - 5/5 Stars

A tremendous standalone in a genre I'll be picking up more often, especially if it has Tess Gerritsen's name on it.

For more Tess Gerritsen reviews: Index

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