Acceptable Risk by Robin Cook.

Genre: Medical thriller

Stars: 4.5/5

Completed in 2 days.

Ever taken a risk and thought it was acceptable for the greater good of the mankind or for yourself, although knowing that in reality, you were on the road to ruin? Although you knew that the risk wasn’t acceptable?


The story Acceptable Risk by Robin Cook is a medical thriller that takes you through the consequences of a ‘so called’ acceptable risk, and when you are talking about medicines and drugs, what is actually acceptable as a risk...

The novel also takes you back to the 1692 where the highly infamous Salem witch trials occurred and several innocent victims were hanged till death. They met their end due to lot many misunderstandings and superstitious beliefs. Moreover, in the older times, the things which couldn’t be explained were labelled as the Devil’s Work.

Back in the present, Kimberly Stewart, a nurse, gets involved in revealing the truth behind her ancestor Elizabeth Stewarts death during the Salem witch trials. She is convinced that Elizabeth was wrongly convicted because of certain character traits like firm resolve and frankness which were taboo for women in that era. But she is chided by her father who tells that Elizabeth was indeed a witch and the whole family believed that. In search of the truth, Kim aims to find the ‘conclusive evidence’ which was used against Elizabeth. She also meets Edward Armstrong a neuroscientist and an emerging Science Celebrity who takes an interest into the matter and finds a drug responsible for all the tragedy. The drug is said to have healthy hallucinogenic good effects and so he starts experimenting on it for the purpose of becoming a billionaire. Who doesn’t want a ‘feel good’ drug which has the power of drastically altering the personality?

Here comes the most engaging part, he takes the acceptable risk of testing the drug on himself and his team of researches, which turns out to be anything other than an acceptable risk.

Kim and Edward get romantically involved and start living together at the very site of the tragedy, the castle where all the catastrophe began. Kim finds many letters and Elizabeth’s diary which prove to be of significance for the Harvard University. She also learns that Elizabeth was of the same age as her when her life had ended.

It does not help when attacks of a carnivorous ‘animal’ threaten Kim’s life.

In the process of finding evidences proving Elizabeth innocent, Kim actually goes through a lot of changes in her personality in the form of firm resolve and frankness of Elizabeth and leaves her shyness and timid attitude behind, all thanks to Elizabeth herself and the problems she went through.

Kim is inspired to live life to the fullest, not just for herself, but for Elizabeth, who was wrongly put to death at the ripe age of 29.

I highly recommend reading this novel because it keeps you on the edge of your seats and also gives your mind something to think upon.

Takeaways from the novel

1) A drug is not a solution to all the personality defects.

When Edward starts using drugs to enhance his capabilities and resolve his personality defects, it is Kim who tries to convince him to not do the same as drugs have side effects.

Personality is the result of life experiences and should be developed by the help of conscious efforts and not merely by the use of drugs.

Acceptable Risk

2) Be resolute

Elizabeth is the inspiration here. When even her family doesn’t believe her and insist that she should confess being a witch and should also give out names of other witches, she firmly refuses because it’s against her conscience to convict other innocent people, all at the stake of her own life.

Spoiler Alert!

The conclusive evidence was Elizabeth’s deformed foetus, a side effect of the drug.

Edward and his teammates were responsible for all the life threatening attacks in the locality, again a side effect of the drug.

The tragedy ends exactly where it had began, the infamous castle where Elizabeth once lived, now home to Kim.

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