I admit it. I'm a wimp. Spiders? I don't step on them. You have to
get too close. Heights? I get a nosebleed on a stepladder. Don't
like flying, either. Needles? I don't do needles. And oh, yeah, I'm
Well, GRAVITY, the latest offering from internist-cum-author Terri
Gerritsen, doesn't have any spiders in it. Close, though. And a lot
of it takes place aboard a space station --- so, let's see, that
covers heights and flying and claustrophobia, too, and because this
is a medical thriller there are lots and lots of needles. So I
spent a lot of time reading this book with 1.5 of my eyes
And, of course, I loved every word of it.
GRAVITY is anything but a shake and bake book. You know the type.
Take three teaspoons of surgical procedures, mix with two medical
crises, throw in a little gratuitous sex and one domestic problem,
season with a mystery thread and bake for 320 pages. That is not
what you get here. Ms. Gerritsen starts us off with an undersea
exploration that in a heartbeat goes horribly wrong, then switches
locales to astronaut training. Within a few pages we are aboard a
space station, where things slowly but surely go horribly wrong,
too. And go even further downhill from there.
For there is a malevolent virus loose in the space station, and it
is horribly and irrevocably claiming the crew members --- one by
one by one. And Ground Control does not want the astronauts aboard
the space station back. It is treating them as if they ... well, as
if they have the plague. They don't. Plagues can be
Emma Watson, the physician aboard the space station, has to attempt
to figure out the source of the virus, and effect a cure, before it
is too late. In the meantime, there are those back home who know
more than they are telling about the virus and its etiology. Emma's
estranged husband, Jack McCallum, wants her back --- on earth and
in their home. It is ultimately left up to him to surmise what is
happening to his wife and her fellow crew members before all of
them are lost.
Ms. Gerritsen, being a physician herself, demonstrates not only her
ample knowledge of medical procedures but also her riveting ability
to describe them in laymen's terms (a caution: this is not a book
you want to read while chowing down on a burger).
She has also done her homework with respect to the effects of low
gravity on liquids (which are hard enough to handle in earth's
gravity, as anyone who has ever changed an infant boy's diaper at
3:22 a.m. can attest to). With GRAVITY she has combined these
elements to create a novel which is by turns a horror story,
mystery, medical thriller, and romance --- and, most importantly, a
terrific, nail biting story.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011