Book Review of a Medical Mystery – Suicide Med

suicide medYou’re looking for a quick, light read, with a focus on mystery, a hint of chick flick, and enough gross anatomy to keep you from feeling like your brain is rotting. We’ve found the book for you – Suicide Med. Suicide Med is the latest book released by Freida McFadden, in which she departs from her previous style and forays into the world of fiction.

The story is fast-paced, and is told through the points of view of five first-year medical school classmates. The author’s career as a physician is evident as she laces the plot with rich references to  anatomy, but she strikes a good balance where a non-medical-educated reader can easily follow. The plot revolves around the students’ relationships in regard to each other and their professor, the difficult anatomy class they are taking, and the prevalent sense of mystery that is based on a history of student suicides in the school. There are many different elements to the storyline, with romance between the students and professor, the difficulty of medical school, and many other nuances, but somehow the author makes it all work with finesse.

The plot of Suicide Med was engaging in which another suicide/murder was imminent, but the character development was a bit shallow. The five main characters were very stereotypical: Heather, the pretty girl who lacks a bit in terms of mental capacity, Ginny, the tough and quiet child of immigrants who is clawing her way to the top, Rachel, the eccentric feminist who is smart but cheats due to a lack of work ethic, Abe, the ultimate nice guy, and Mason, the son of a wealthy doctor who is very smart, and destined to become a plastic surgeon. The characters, while likable, fit too perfectly into the molds created by society.

The book switched gears each time a new narrator took hold of the story, which was a great way to keep things moving. It also kept the reader guessing until the end, with the final scene full of action, surprise, and a nice twist. For those who like a happy ending where all the loose ends are tied up, the Epilogue was perfect. It showed the main characters years down the road, with justice having been served, albeit not in the way in which one would have expected.

In a smooth storyline, the only part that didn’t work was the bit of sci-fi that was thrown in with Abe. I found it a bit unbelievable that a medical student would surrender his body to a back-alley surgeon, and the whole thing was unsettling. I also found that it didn’t add much to the main storyline, so it was unnecessary, and not geared to the audience who will be reading this book.
While it is a light fictional read, Suicide Med brings to light a very important concept that is often shoved under the rug. Med school and Residency is known to be grueling, and while much is done for the sake of training excellent doctors, when the result is suicide things are going too far. This past August, shortly after Suicide Med was released, two medical residents training in two different programs jumped to their deaths in New York City. Residency is designed with the mentality of breaking doctors down until there is nothing left to their lives but medicine. Many medical students and interns experience depression, and without the right care this can lead to suicidal thoughts. McFadden masterfully weaves the message of a need for reform into this fictional work.
In summation, Suicide Med is a great read for unwinding after a long day, doctor or not. Just don’t read it in the dark.
Freida McFadden is a physician, blogger, and author of three books: A Cartoon Guide to Becoming a Doctor, The Devil Wears Scrubs, and Suicide Med. She blogs at Doc Cartoon.

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