Set in 1930s Russia, this darkly humorous, tragic, and ultimately heroic novel tells the tale of Vladimir, an eight-year-old Russian boy suddenly stricken with a chronic case of the hiccups. He soon finds himself spirited away to a Moscow hospital by the famous physician Sergei Namestikov, who puts him through a series of extraordinaryand often bizarretreatments in an effort to find a cure. When Sergei’s chief medical rival, the brilliant Alexander Afiniganov, discovers that beneath Vladimir’s blank eyes lurks a pure, unbridled evil, he takes steps to remove the child from polite society. Abandoned by everyone but his hiccups, Vladimir decides to return to the world he once knew, encountering many strange people and situations along the way. Funny, poignant, and surreal, this is a close look at the nature of good and evil filled with a dazzling cast of characters.
this was a very interesting book that read like some sort of folk lore, but with added humor and more interesting characters in it.
it's a slim book, a rather quick listen, but it packs in quite a lot of 'adventure' -- if you can call the travels of Vlad adventures. he's an interesting boy (and then, man), with not much to say, besides hiccups. i think the real punch behind this book are all the madcap characters he meets along the way. while it's set up to be a story about Vlad -- it's really not. it's the story of everyone around him. from his doctors, to his mother, to all the people he meets in his travels across Russia (and Mongolia).
i found most of the characters he met charming and likeable and they often made me chuckle. even the ones i may not have been supposed to. the story is really well written, quiet beautiful prose. Meades has a nice way with words...good descriptions that keep you wanting more.
the ending left me a little bewildered. i was actually quite disappointed by it. to be honest, i really disliked it. but the over all quality of the book, the writing, the characters and the story were enough for me to overlook the final chapter, the 'resolution' and rate the book 4 stars.
i would read another Meades book in a heartbeat.