3 out of 4 stars
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Days of the Giants, written by R.J. Petrella, takes place in Boston in the late 20th century. The story follows Slater Barnes as he navigates the volatile landscape of hospital politics and unravels the truth about the seemingly innocuous deaths of his father and best friend.
Slater Barnes is certain of a few things. He knows he’s going to intern at Boston City Hospital, he’s going to marry his longtime girlfriend, Sofia, and he hates his stepfather. When life throws him a curveball, Slater has to rethink his choices and must learn how to tackle the politics of the hospital world, all the while fighting alcoholism, surviving a possibly terminal disease and struggling to keep his relationships afloat. With the date of a rebuilding plan that threatens the sanctity of the hospital’s public health mission fast approaching, Slater and the BCH staff are forced to protect it, but lose something vital in the process.
Days of the Giants has two narrators. At first, I was confused by the retelling of events. The opening storyteller – we soon learn is Slater’s father – had an almost omniscient presence and was privy to intimate details of Slater’s, the primary subject, life. The narration is interchanged between the two throughout the book, though always related in the first-person perspective. Apart from the general weirdness of being spoken to by a very dead person, I found the mode of storytelling quite enjoyable, especially as the tone of Days of the Giants places you, the reader, in the role of a confidante.
The backbone of the novel relies on one key concept: fear of change. It was evident in the way the staff and patients at City revolted against the ‘merge’ with Academy. This was understandable, however. Boston City Hospital was geared towards public practice and designed with key beliefs and moral limits in mind, nearly the complete opposite of the money-grubbing, snobbish nature of Academy. Slater also despised the idea of his mother’s remarriage, resenting Mel, his stepfather, almost from the very beginning, as well as the difference he believed it wrought on her image and personality.
The theme of Days of the Giant was borderline coming-of-age and boy-meets-world. I put this forward in as loose a sense as possible. What prompted this analogy was that Slater was at a crossroads in life as he was faced with making the right career choice, overcoming a severe ailment and stepping up to the challenge to make a decision with huge impacts on the lives and welfare of others. We see him develop as the story progresses after arriving at this slow realization that life isn’t as black and white as he had pictured it. He was influenced majorly by Don Lindy, his best friend and my favourite character simply because of his sass, and stepped up to the plate when needed.
I enjoyed the medley of hospital politics, romance and scheming, with the merest tinge of one or two murder mysteries to complete the story. There were lesser inclusions of cronyism, betrayal and family dynamics that set the subplots for the novel.
The most impressive aspect of Petrella’s writing style is, as previously discussed, the form the recounting of the story took. The storyline came together wonderfully and ended on a satisfactory note. I located very few errors that were mostly punctuation mistakes, so the novel flowed relatively seamlessly. If the novel was edited, I do not believe it was done professionally.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy crime, politics and medicine. The novel contains little profane language, so a mature audience is preferred.
Days of the Giants
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