In the spirit of celebrating all things Orenda during #Orentober month, I will be sharing my thoughts on The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith: a compelling and terrifying thriller set in a dystopian world that feels a little too realistic to be comfortable… The current COVID-19 situation gives this story an even bigger impact.
“That’s the trouble with hope. Just when you think you’ve weaned yourself off it, its devilish little head rears up and sucks you back in.”
I actually won an e-copy of The Waiting Rooms in a Twitter giveaway back in March, but with the whole COVID-19 situation I haven’t been in the mood to read it until now… I’m glad I waited, because this story might just have been too much for me back then. Why? The Waiting Rooms is a compelling and terrifying thriller set in a dystopian world that feels a little too realistic to be comfortable… The current state of the world gives this story an even bigger impact and makes the dystopian world seem like a logical possible next step. Most terrifying indeed! If your nerves can stomach it, this story is absolutely brilliant though.
It’s hard to put The Waiting Rooms into a neat little genre box… Part dystopia, part medical thriller, part mystery and part domestic/family focused, we get a wonderful mix of different elements that together form a recipe for a terrifyingly perfect cocktail. This story has multiple POVs, multiple settings as well as different timeframes. We switch back between past and present (or pre-Crisis in this dystopian world), but we also switch between South Africa and the UK as well as the different characters in play… This gives the story a rich and multi-layered feel, and the different parts are combined splendidly.
The chapters in South Africa really stood out to me, but this has a lot to do with the fantastic descriptions of the setting and fauna. The descriptions made the setting really come alive for me, and I loved how the research looked into using plants and knowledge of the locals to try and create new medicins. The whole cheating angle was a bit of a letdown for me, but then again it’s one of my mayor pet peeves to that was just a personal reaction. That said, this feeling was just a blip on the radar as the rest of the story is simply fantastic.
The medical element as well as the dystopian world are truly terrifying. The current COVID-19 situation gives this story an even bigger impact, as you wonder just how much worse things can get. Imagine a world where antibiotics no longer work and people can die of a scratch… The dystopian world as described in The Waiting Rooms sounds bloodcurdlingly realistic and all too possible considering the recent situation: a true nightmare situation that will have you biting your nails and will chill you to the bone.
Thankfully the pre-Crisis chapters as well as the time Kate spends looking for her birth mother distract a little from the dystopian present, and the different elements were brilliantly balanced. The Waiting Rooms turned out to be an absolutely fascinating, captivating as well as alarming read. It’s one of those stories you have to be in the mood for, but if you think you can stomach it, The Waiting Rooms will blow you away.