Friday, March 1, 2019

Robin Cook - Toxin / Chromosome 6

Toxin: When a doctor's daughter becomes infected with E. coli, the widespread dangers of bacterial contamination are no longer a subject for debate, but a grim reality. In desperation, he is forced to follow a trail of ignorance and corruption from the tangled red-tape of the medical community to the highest levels of the powerful meat industry. It is an eye-opening thriller that every American should read ... 
Chromosome 6 is a prophetic thriller that challenges the medical ethics of genetic manipulation and cloning in the jungles of equatorial Africa, where one mistake could bridge the gap between man and ape--and forever change the genetic map of our existence...

Comment: Several years ago I was able to find this omnibus edition of two novels by Robin Cook in a bookstore but of course it has been waiting years until now, when I finally decided to read it. As always, better late than never.

The stories included in this edition don't have any connection with one another but, as expected from this author, both address some sort of situation related to thew world of medicine or science.
Toxin presents a doctor who wants to discover how his young daughter was able to consume food with the e.coli bacteria and die from it without the responsible people caring.
Chromosome 6 focuses on the surprises and dangers of creating organs with scientific methods in animals and how that can result on uncontrollable situations for all involved.
Although each story has its own plot and setting and, dare I say, «tone», both have the same sort of writing issues. Some readers just say the author doesn't have talent to write but I wouldn't agree with this. I think the author has the knowledge to present his ideas and themes in shocking ways but he does fail in solving his own plots. Perhaps one could say this is style but no, he has other books where he finished things (like Abduction, which I really liked).

Generally speaking, the author uses his books to address a situation that is out there but there are always those who care, those who don't, those who make it happen for several reasons, those who are unaware... in terms of letting people have a glimpse of "worst case" scenarios, I think the author does his job well. Most people also prefer to consider this fiction, that in no way, real people would actually behave like that or do those things or that legal institutions would act so horribly.
Therefore, I think his books could be considered having two main points: the theme and all the realistic and scientific proof of its existence and the fictional part of the story where the characters behave and talk and showcase what could happen. 
I think the science part is always provocative (even if I don't have the knowledge to judge it) but the fictional part could certainly be improved. 

On account of this, let's see:
In Toxin, the theme is the possibility of meat being badly processed and by eating, people absorb bacteria while unaware of this. 
The plot follows dr Kim Reggis while he tries his best to save his daughter and this not being possible, he wants to find out how this happened, which are the steps between an animal being slaughtered until it gets to out table and how could the meat be subjected to infections. In fact, it could so easy and the story stresses this a lot. 
I just think dr Kim wasn't likeable most of the time and when he changes his behavior I felt was a little too late. Besides, what he decides to do to prove his suspicions is often unrealistic and this part of the writing, the fictional characters, didn't make justice to the importance of the theme with their lack of focus. The there's no end. There ar some scenes that let us think some steps took place but we never get to see anything. frustrating!

In Chromosome 6, the theme is the playing with this specific chromosome to improve the chances of a successful organ transplant by using animals that resemble humans in therms of DNA without caring about the ethical consequences and the fact only certain people would benefit from it.
The plot is engaging and with adrenaline-inducing scenes, especially because the action takes place in different places (New York and in the Equatorial Guinea) but in simultaneous times/days.
I think this one was a little more successful in terms of plot because all "good" characters were well portrayed and their steps captivating to follow. However, again regarding the end, there were things left unsaid, we never discover what happened after the biggest plot issue was dealt with.

All things considered, both stories provided food for thought. It's a little pitiable that the fictional parts weren't stronger, to better deliver the message. The content might be important but from the POV of the reader interested in the fictional story, there are too many unsolved issues, which can be distracting and unfair after pages and pages of investment. I also don't think to have better ends (or with details) would have ruined the message the author was trying to make.
Grade: 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment