Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Disaster Status -- Pacific Mercy Hospital Series Book 2 – Most Pleasurable Reading I’ve Experienced in Years!

Candace Calvert

2010 Tyndale, House Publishers
Paperback: 352 pages
ISBN-10: 1414325444
ISBN-13: 978-1414325446

Reading so Enjoyable I didn’t want the story to end!

It has been a long time since I’ve read a book that was so enjoyable that I actually slowed down my reading speed in order to prolong the experience.

It’s almost as if Disaster Status was a gourmet meal served in the finest restaurant. I didn’t want to rush the experience. I wanted to ‘savor’ each sentence.

I must confess that I’m the ideal fan for Disaster Status. I love medical stories -- when the medical details are accurate and play an important part of the story. Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse and her details are true to life – even when painful to read. (I’ve been in the hospital several times as a patient so I am more than a casual observer.) I can attest that Disaster Status is a compelling medical story.

I also enjoy a solid romance story when the ‘falling in love’ process is slow to unfold and occupies the central focus of the novel. Disaster Status is a solid romance story.

Disaster Status is also a Christian inspirational novel with its spiritual elements expertly woven – unobtrusively -- into the story.

In short, Disaster Status has everything I like in a novel. The characters are so well defined that I feel confident I could walk into Pacific Mercy Hospital today and identify each character by name. I could even introduce myself and begin a conversation which would make the character believe we’d known each other for years. This is a sizeable accomplishment for the author because there are four generations of characters in Disaster Status.

As the book opens, each character faces a unique set of personal conflicts. These problems quickly invest the reader with an emotional interest in that character. I found all the characters to be sympathetic in their own way. I don’t remember when I’ve read a book where I cared so much about so many different characters. For me this enhanced level of character development played an important part in making the reading experience so enjoyable.

How Disaster Status is Different

I found Disaster Status to be very different from many novels I’ve read which could be said to be ‘plot-driven’. Authors today are often advised to start each chapter with a ‘hook’ and end it with a ‘cliffhanger’. Some writing instructors even suggest doing this with each paragraph when that is possible. Writers are also admonished to always be increasing the tension. This plot-driven ‘tension addiction’ has gone so far that I sometimes feel like I’m on one of those European bus tours where you visit sixteen countries in just eight days. You ‘see’ everything but never have the time to ‘appreciate’ anything. I’m just burned out on this type of story. Perhaps this is why I loved Disaster Status so much.

A Quality Approach to Writing

I believe that if a writer can really write well, and is given enough pages to fully develop her secondary characters, she will not need the artificial stimulus of ‘hooks’ and ‘cliffhangers’ to hold the reader’s interest. I find the most compelling writing to be writing that is worth reading in its own right. Candace Calvert does this with the very best of writers. In Disaster Status the story is always interesting. Page by page, I never looked ahead for the really ‘good stuff’ to come along or for a cliffhanger to be resolved. The opposite was more the case. I didn’t want the story to end because I knew I’d have to wait a year or more for her next book.

Disaster Status – an ‘Interest-Driven’ Book

At first sight it might seem as Disaster Status is a ‘character-driven’ story. But it is much more than ‘character-driven’. The plot is too complex and too instrumental in supporting the many characters (and different story threads) to be called 'character-driven’.

I feel it would be more accurate to describe Disaster Status as an ‘interest-driven’ novel. The reader’s attention is captivated by both ‘character development’, which is interesting (though sometimes quirky), and by unexpected ‘plot situations’ – which sometimes involve medical emergencies.

Disaster Status also features several different plot threads which add to the story’s richness. I’m so glad that the author was given a full 352 pages to tell her story. Disaster Status has a richness that cannot be compressed into a 200 page book. I love the short Harlequin Medical series books but Disaster Status presents a strong argument for also reading longer format books.

About the story

Scott McKenna is the hero in Disaster Status. He is a fire Captain in his mid-thirties who has seen many tragedies both on the job and in his personal life. The heroine, Erin Quinn, is an ER nurse (like the author) who has also suffered many personal tragdiess and disappointments. She is in her thirties as well. Both Scott and Erin are career-driven and neither is looking for love. (Both have had bad experiences in the past.) The setting is Pacific Point in northern California which is a beautiful location about an hour’s drive from Lake Tahoe.

Genuine Conflicts

The conflicts the hero and heroine face in Disaster Status are very real. The ‘falling in love’ process is very gradual and believable. While the heroine is a believer who leads a faith-group prayer session before each shift, the hero believes that God does not care about him. In the past his prayers never seemed to be answered.

Four Generations of Secondary Characters

The secondary characters are very important in Disaster Status. I found that the medical situations were kept to a minimum but nevertheless played an important part in the story development. The medical events are organic to the story and not there simply to show the author knows her subject. The plot is rather complex with several story threads which are skillfully woven together and are essential to the story’s richness.

The First Book in the Pacific Mercy Hospital Series is Critical Care (Reviewed below).

Last year I read the first book in the Pacific Mercy Hospital series and I loved it. I gave it my highest recommendation. Yet, while both books take place in the same hospital, they are very different books. I think they are equally enjoyable to read but in different ways. You can read the books in any sequence or read just one of them with full enjoyment. Yet I would suggest you read the books in order.

I found it very interesting to see how much the author has matured in just one book. I see a difference between the two books – not in quality but in tone and richness. Of course, this could be just me but I know this: if you read either one of these books, you’ll want to read the other.

The Long Lonely Wait

I’m a little sad now because I will probably have to wait over a year for book III. However, as a lifelong Tony Hillerman fan, I’m well experienced with long waits between much loved reading experiences.

Disaster Status -- Highest Recommendation!


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