A friend from UNC (Go Heels! – it’s a gut reaction ), Hi Lizzie!, recommended The Madman’s Daughter as the author is a family friend (or something along those lines) and I’m glad she recommended it! It was a fast paced and engaging read and although it wasn’t perfect, it was an amazing debut novel and I can’t wait to see where her writing takes her in the future.
It has been a very long time, over 10 years if not closer to 15, since I went through my H.G. Wells obsession and read everything he wrote and from what I remember this mirrors The Island of Doctor Moreau pretty closely. I think at some point in the next few years I will go back and read Wells work again as I really enjoyed The Time Machine and The Invisible Man.
What I enjoyed most about this book was the author’s story telling ability and her great descriptions. At one point when I was getting reading my final chapter for the night before bed I had chills all over my body because of what happened and the cliff hanger of that chapter (almost the exact half-way point). Honestly, I was shocked I was able to put the book down and go to bed.
Overall this book was ‘meh’. I couldn’t get into it and it wasn’t what I thought it would be. With the title and the blurb I assumed the book was about Alan Turing and his life and not the history of inventions which led to modern computers. I was clearly wrong.
The book was interesting, but I just didn’t enjoy it. There was too much math and science (sometimes explained nicely so that a non-mathematician could understand it) and not enough biography. Again, this was apparently my misunderstanding. The one thing I took away from the novel about Turing was that everything that is known about him has to come with a grain of salt. He sounded like someone I would love to talk to and find out more about. What I found most fascinating was that
“Turing had displayed a remarkable degree of self-confidence and comfort in his sexual identity. That he saw his sexuality as part of his identity in the first place put him at odds with the prevalent thinking of his age, and reflected, no doubt, the years that he had spent in the privileged corridors of King’s College.” (195)
I need to stop saying I don’t like nonfiction and start saying I enjoy immersive nonfiction. It seems the majority of nonfiction works that I do like are those that delve deeper into societal issues from a different perspective, like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks(Amazon Associates Link).
This was a fascinating read and it constantly reminded me of an updated (more micro-focused) version of Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Manin which he discusses and shows the errors of many scientists whose procedures created ultimately racist data. If you enjoyed Skloot’s work you should definitely check out Gould’s, although it’s not as much about the personal stories behind the family and behind Skloot’s interest in this subject which makes Skloot’s work more approachable to the general public.
I’m not surprised it took me this long to actually get a copy of the book, but I’m sad it did. This was a fascinating read about the family’s personal issues, the ethical issues, the scientific issues of the infamous HeLa cells and Skloot’s personal story and relationships to all of it. What I found most fascinating was the evolution of the scientific community over time and how much has changed since the cells were first gathered in the 1940s/50s. I think that science and research are vitally important to the continuation of society, but I have to agree with something Skloot said in her afterward, Click here to continue reading.
This is one of the most hauntingly beautiful novels I have read. I had some inclinations of how beautiful it was from reading the synopsis and reading Robert’s review and author post over at 101 Books. Now before we go any further, if you haven’t read the book, go here and read the book description. After you’ve read it, If you have any desire to read the book, don’t read this review. Although I don’t tell everything, and actually leave out a good bit, it still reveals a lot.
Prior to Robert’s posts, all I knew about Never Let Me Go, was that it was short listed for the Man-Booker Prize in 2005, but was over-shadowed by Ishiguro’s better known book (and prize winner) Remains of the Day. After reading his review, I realized he book was tangentially similar to Chromosome 6 by Robin Cook which I read in high school and the book quickly jumped up my reading list/it came in at the library.