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.
Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.
This book was truly terrifying. I always find that reading a dystopian-based book gives me a little nervous thrill, that sense that what I’m reading could become reality and ‘The Waiting Rooms’ is absolutely no exception. It’s made even more terrifying by the fact that as I write this, the world is being turned inside out and upside down by COVID-19. The thought that drug resistance could be on the horizon when there is a very real pandemic currently occurring is chilling. Eve Smith has written an incredibly timely book that shouldn’t be over looked.
This book is told is three voices. We have Kate, a nurse working twenty years after the crisis has happened, Lily an elderly lady living in a care facility with her seventieth birthday looming closer and Mary, a biologist who twenty seven years before the crisis is researching the use of plants in medicine. I came to care about each one of these ladies. Kate is desperate to find her birth mother and also fighting everyday to keep her daughter safe in a world that could kill her. Lily sees her time running out, once you hit seventy you are refused any kind of medical care if you fall ill and she is also trying to hide from her past. A past that is making a threatening return. And Mary is a young woman, carrying out exciting research in an exotic location.
I really enjoyed the dual timeline of ‘The Waiting Rooms’, it was fascinating to read about life both pre and after the crisis. I really enjoyed reading about Mary’s research in Africa, the descriptions of the wildlife and the landscape were a high point for me. The dual timeline also had the added effect of really drumming in just how dramatically the world changed in such a short space of time.
As a debut novel, this book is outstanding. Eve Smith is a fiercely talented writer who I will be following forever more. Not only has she written a flipping good story, there is an impressive depth to her characterisation and she successfully blends the speculative fiction genre with the thriller genre producing a cracking mystery.
One of the most timely and thought-provoking books you will ever read, ‘The Waiting Rooms’ is intense, emotive, chilling and fantastic. It’s a book not to be missed.
‘The Waiting Rooms’ is published in paperback on the 9th of July by Orenda Books. With thanks to Orenda for my review copy and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for my blog tour invite. Make sure you visit the other stops!