Blog Post 8: Bodies by Jed Mercurio
“Part of what motivated my writing was anger. I was angry that the daily misery of doctors, nurses, and patients was being trivialised into soap opera. We were made to feel bad because we were not perfect like our television counterparts. We were resentful that our patients did not get better as quickly as they did on telly – or at all.”
The Book: Bodies by Jed Mercurio
The Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Ghostly Rating: 👻 👻 👻 👻 👻
Inside every hospital exists a world no outsider is allowed to see: a storm of malpractice, corruption, sex, drink and drop-dead exhaustion.
But for first day junior doctors, their initiation into this world – the ‘Killing Season’ – is about to begin.
A whistle-blowing despatch from the frontlines of hospital life, Jed Mercurio’s Bodies takes us on a nerve-jangling journey through one junior doctor’s loss of innocence, and his desperate, dangerous attempts to right his – and his colleagues’– wrongs.
I picked up this book from my local charity shop. I’d never heard of it, nor did I know there was a popular BBC series. It was the cover that did it for me, as it so often does (not sorry!) and I couldn’t help but pick it up. Other than the cover, I don’t know why I decided to take it home with me. It might have been because it was five books for a quid, on offer and I needed to make up the numbers. You see, this isn’t my usual kind of book. But bloody hell am I glad I picked it up! Words cannot describe how quickly I fell into the life of a junior doctor during ‘killing season’.
I’ve seen it suggested that Jed Mercurio has made a second career exposing his first career. I think that is completely, 100% accurate. The second you turn the first page you find yourself sucked into this macabre fascination will all the things that can, and do, go wrong in a hospital environment. We often forget that our medical professionals are humans too, and are capable of mistakes. If I make a mistake in my job, a typo gets missed. If a doctor makes a mistake, somebody is dead. But that’s part of the life of a doctor. And for readers like me, who have no background in medicine, it is hard to stop your jaw hitting the floor when you learn of the reality of the life of a junior doctor.
The book is satirical, tongue-in-cheek, and this makes it entirely unputdownable. I found myself quite literally laughing aloud at parts of the book, and others, well I found tears pricking at the corners of my eyes. The characters are flawed, and imperfect, and frustrating, and I loved them for it. The characters are realistic to a T, and the storyline centres around them. I love a character driven storyline and Mercurio certainly delivers on that front.
The glossary was a necessary addition to the book. Without it, us lay-people would be entirely lost. I’m glad it’s a separate entity to the novel, hidden in the back of the book, as this means that the dialogue is completely realistic in nature – full of medical jargon and acronyms. This was the perfect way to do it, in my opinion, and nothing is detracted from the story.
Dark. Fascinating. Brutally honest. This book is a keeper. I’ll be buying Jed Mercurio’s other books, as well as watching his TV series. I’m a convert and a fan!
Trigger Warnings: Medical procedures. Self-harm and suicide attempts.
As always, wishing you love and books that make your heart skip a beat,
Sarah Jules x