Author: J.A. Schneider
Genre: Medical Thriller
Published: May, 2012 by Amazon Digital Services
Review by Jen Blood
J.A. Schneider’s medical thriller EMBRYO opens with every woman’s worst nightmare: Very pregnant mother-to-be Maria Moran is crossing a busy street when crippling pain suddenly brings her to her knees. Within moments, she is bleeding from virtually every orifice and barely coherent as strangers cry for help.
From that gripping prologue, Schneider launches directly into the life of Dr. Jill Raney, a brilliant and appropriately beautiful resident at Madison Hospital Medical Center in New York City. The author deftly brings to life what could easily be a cardboard heroine, making Raney both likeable and innately flawed as she tirelessly pursues her medical career — with a few distractions. One of those distractions is the equally gorgeous and brilliant Dr. David Levine, who also manages to avoid being cast as a forgettable leading man through Schneider’s evocative writing and some great characterization. The other — considerably less pleasant — distraction for Raney is a sudden influx of unexplained failed pregnancies and rare genetic anomalies in the hospital that immediately raise questions for the young intern. Raney puts her medical career — and her life — in jeopardy when she refuses to back down from hospital administration’s demands that she drop the matter and move on. Raney’s search leads her into the bowels of the old hospital, and there are some great twists and a compelling final chapter that had me on the edge of my seat to the very end.
It’s rare these days that I find a novel I can’t wait to get back to, but EMBRYO was just such a novel. The pacing is tight, the romantic subplot compelling without distracting from the main plot, and the medical details are utterly fascinating. Besides a great plot, the writing is sharp, the characters for the most part well-drawn, and I found the twists and turns in the story completely unpredictable. Though I thought one aspect of the ending was a little too sci-fi for the integrity of the rest of the story, and the romance between Raney and Levine was a bit rushed for my taste, neither of those things was enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of the novel. Since finishing, I’ve found myself returning to the plot and the chilling real-world possibilities Schneider presented — “Haunting” seems an apt descriptor. Sure to please the most discerning fans of the genre, EMBRYO is a provocative, intelligent medical thriller from an author I’m very much looking forward to reading more of. A very strong four stars from this reviewer.
Joyce Schneider is the featured author all this week at BloodWrites, where you can read a free excerpt from the novel on Tuesday, and an exclusive interview with the author on Wednesday.