An all too realistic concept which is terrifying – not a book for the weak-hearted, but if you’re a thriller fan, you are in for a TREAT with The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith.
Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics.
The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’… hospitals where no one ever gets well.
Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything.
Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her too.
Smith has sold me on all her future books
I’m genuinely annoyed at myself as I had this book for months and it’s the exact book I’ve been craving, but other commitments have got in my way and I have regrets, because I definitely wanted this book in my life that little bit earlier.
There are so many different elements to this book – you have the crisis being a big element, but other stories in the background all helping you create an image of what’s happened and why the characters are where they are now.
The whole concept, citizens becoming immune to antibiotics, is genuinely terrifying – even if COVID wasn’t happening right now, it’s very topical, and there are research resources in the author’s note, which made it all the more scary/intense.
Smith jumps straight in, giving you no room to breathe throughout and I LOVED it. Constant action, lots of conversation to make the chapters go quickly and a shocking twist which was completely unfathomable. It also made me tear up at one point, as the family element is seriously well done – it’s one of those books which provokes thought too – what would you do in this situation?
THE. WRITING. Wow! Smith has sold me on all her future books – it’s so rich in detail without being dull, and laced with so much imagery, you can envision everything (although, as you can imagine, not all of the imagery is nice).
It jumps between a few characters, and then also between pre-crisis and post-crisis from UK and South Africa, which was a fantastic way to do it – I was hanging on Smith’s every word. Despite it focusing on these characters, it pulled in other minor players which made it 10x better – you didn’t just have how two people were dealing with events, but multiple others and their thoughts.
I would’ve liked more of a government angle; you have excerpts from papers, and word-for-word government speeches (the likeliness of our PM is uncanny), but you didn’t hear too much about the crisis itself in real-time. You get enough detail, I’m just greedy.
It has that edge over other virus books, as it’s not about the ‘end of the world’, but about adaptation and a dystopian world, whilst describing the journey and adding that humane touch. I read a similar book last year, and it thoroughly annoyed me – but The Waiting Rooms ticked all the boxes.
An incredible thriller – gripping, terrifying and intense. Read it at your own risk, but I highly recommend – a strong, strong 5/5 stars. Orenda Books have published another corker.
The Waiting Rooms, Eve Smith, RRP £8.99 (paperback); Book Depository
Genre: Thriller/ Dystopian