Top critical review
All fluff, no substance.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on December 30, 2013
Chelsea General Hospital is a fictional world famous teaching hospital near Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Its author, Sanjay Gupta went to undergraduate and medical school at the University of Michigan, and it's not hard to guess what he used as the model for Chelsea General). This book chronicles the lives of the doctors in the Department of Neurosurgery and a few other staff members, such as a retired football star cum Emergency Room Director and diagnostician sans pareil.
I was induced to buy this book because I thought that there were going to be some interesting medicine woven into the plot. There wasn't. In fact, there's not even a plot. Each chapter more or less stands on its own. While there are story arcs that bridge the chapters, there is no real beginning or end to this book. What poses as character development are just predictable cliches. A surgeon looses confidence in his own ability after a patient dies. He regains his confidence when he has an “a ha moment” and learns an invaluable life lesson. A doctor whose marriage is on the rocks and who searches for meaning in her life discovers she is more fulfilled volunteering at a free medical clinic. The divorced emergency room doctor reconnects with his son by passing up a hot date to make time to talk to him when he was feeling depressed. The workaholic (and horribly stereotyped) surgeon from Korea is diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor; he stops to smell the roses. You get the picture.
The cover of this book informs us that it is “now a TNT series.” Gupta is employed by CNN (a sister company to TNT). I have a sneaky suspicion that this series was planned before the book was even written. The chapters resemble episodes from a tv series more than anything. In fact, I doubt that Gupta himself wrote the book. It's more likely he commissioned it and put his name on it. I give it two stars. The book has modest entertainment value, the writing is fairly slick, and if you read the book, you won't have to watch the tv series.
A note about my grading system. I rate books within their genres, as there is no point in comparing a self help book to a book of poems or a work of history. This is true within genres, and a four star for a detective novel is not the same as a four star for a work of serious fiction. Very few books rate five stars, which are reserved for masterpieces or near masterpieces, within their genre. On the theory that one should not read bad books, and therefore differentiating between bad, worse and really horrible is a waste of time, one star means simply not worth reading, period. Two, three and four stars all indicate that the book is readable, and one might think of them as meaning "a book with some merit," "a good, solid book," and "a very good book" respectively.