Review: “A Cure for Madness,” Jodi McIsaac

Pros: Good toward the end
Cons: Little plot holes and tropes scattered about
Rating: 3 out of 5

In Jodi McIsaac’s A Cure for Madness, a town goes crazy. Clare, who had hoped she’d left her hometown for good, comes back when she finds out that her parents were killed. She’s now the one who has to take care of her brother, Wes, who has paranoid schizophrenia. Meanwhile, some sort of contagion seems to be making people act crazy.

 

There are quite a number of details, particularly early on, that I couldn’t quite buy into. People failing to notice obvious things; unbelievable chains of events. For example, “erratic behavior” has gotten so bad that psych ward intake has gone up 57% in one week, and yet they’re still assuming that whatever the illness is, it isn’t contagious. Seriously?! This sort of lack of forethought is common to the book. A nurse gives Clare a security code to one of the doors with a simple admonition not to let any patients out; no matter how busy they were, I’m not buying it. When she finally does go to the hospital for a blood test, I fail to understand how she could get a room to herself to pace in, under the circumstances. It felt like the background characters in A Cure for Madness lacked normal common sense, and highly unlikely things happened just because it was necessary to the plot, not because they made sense.

I have a problem with where the story takes Wes’s illness. He ends up with the whole he has a “special brain” thing, the trope of mental illness as magic. They came close to using it well, but it still grated at me.

The late parts of the book helped to make up for the former parts. I can’t really explain since I don’t want to give the events away, but I did come out of the end of the book liking it rather more than I did the beginning and middle parts.

 

NOTE: Book provided free for review
Expected publication date: January 19, 2016

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