Customer Reviews


34 Reviews
5 star:
 (26)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascination and serendipity
Wendy has an enormous capacity for fascination, scale, and detail. It is hard to discern if she finds the scientists studying squid and octopus more fascinating or the creatures. She has a great facility with moving from small to large, from a remarkably clear rendering of the neuron's work, to a picturesque descripton of Woods Hole, Mass -- keeping story, history and...
Published on March 8, 2011 by Joan W. Chevalier

versus
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Light Reading
A few interesting info bits about squids and octopi. Mostly brief bios about scentists who research squid and octopi biology etc. Writing level is roughly middle-school. Works as light reading on a plane or if you are rather bored. Pop-Science consisting 90% pop and 10% science. If you decide to buy it get the cheapest edition you can find because the book is not a...
Published on August 7, 2011 by Desert Rat


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascination and serendipity, March 8, 2011
This review is from: Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid (Hardcover)
Wendy has an enormous capacity for fascination, scale, and detail. It is hard to discern if she finds the scientists studying squid and octopus more fascinating or the creatures. She has a great facility with moving from small to large, from a remarkably clear rendering of the neuron's work, to a picturesque descripton of Woods Hole, Mass -- keeping story, history and science all moving forward. We learn about a squid who harvests light producing bacteria and evicts those who underperform; we learn that "neurosurgeons are surprisingly squeamish" (perhaps one of my all time favorite lines), and that Horace Walpole ("around the time that Ben Franklin was killing wild turkeys with electricity in the colonies") coined the term "serendipty" and that there is more in science that is "serendipitous" than you might expect. There is a mother lode of material here for a novelist such as Jeanette Winterston and for all of us whose senses have become a little dulled by the daily grind. I believe that this is an important book, such that I will tell you that I found the first chapter slow going. I think that Wendy may have been trying to give us too much of an overview before the reader was sufficiently engaged. So, skip the first chapter if you must, but don't be deterred. You will go back to read it because, by the end of the book, you will be entirely engaged with the marvel of the squid and the writer's mind which encompassed it. Congratulations, Wendy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, fascinating cephalopod overview, March 11, 2011
By 
Sarah Porter (Brooklyn, NY United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid (Hardcover)
I can't honestly say I loved absolutely every second. There were moments when I found Williams's prose a little cutesy, or her transitions jarring, or I wished there was more detail about something. But for a slim book, it packs in an incredible amount of breathtaking information and also does a great job of presenting enough of the basic scientific context to let you understand the material. (E.g., I understand how neurons work a lot better now.) Consistently enthralling.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars KRAKEN Rocks!, April 7, 2011
This review is from: Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid (Hardcover)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Kraken. As a scuba diver I have long been fascinated by cephalopods, especially octopi and Caribbean reef squid. I marvel at their obvious curiosity and especially at their ability to mesmerize by changing their colors so quickly and beautifully. With reef squid, when you get close enough you can even see electric pulses going through their body that are iridescent and also very colorful. Kraken did a lot to explain how and why this occurs and goes even further to provide much information and discussion about the intelligence of these marvelous sea creatures. In addition to that, Kraken provided some big surprises. I had absolutely NO idea how valuable research on squid neurons has been to human research and medicine. That part of Kraken was truly fascinating. I highly recommend reading this book -- and you don't need to be a scientist or scuba diver to enjoy it and relate to it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kraken, May 12, 2011
This review is from: Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid (Hardcover)
Cephalopods, a group of animals that include octopuses and squid, may be some of the oldest creatures in the known world and can vary in size from a fraction of an inch to hundreds of pounds. In this wonderful exploration of one of the sea's most mysterious class of creatures, Wendy Williams explores the strange and unique aspects of the cephalopod and explains why this odd creature may have done more for the advancement of medical science than any other animal in the world. She shares the reasons people are so squeamish when it comes to this animal and the unique way they display intelligence that scientists are only now beginning to discover and tap into. Drawing upon research that stretches back hundreds of years, Williams shares the common misconceptions that have hounded squid and octopuses from their earliest days and delights her audience with the weird and wholly unexpected reality and astounding facts about the cephalopods that abundantly fill Earth's oceans.

I'm a nut for science writing, particularly nature writing. In my efforts to discover all that I can about the flora and fauna that populate the world, I sometimes come across a book that I can't ignore. This was such a book. I had never really given squid and octopuses much thought because, frankly, they seemed a little too gelatinous and slimy for my liking. But when the opportunity to review this book came up, I jumped on it because it fed my need to know more about nature and the strange things in the sea. I wasn't disappointed in the slightest by this book and found that Williams has not only a conversational and accessible style, but that she used the most fascinating analogies and illustrations to show just what being a cephalopod is all about.

Both octopuses and squid have developed and adapted all sorts of body weaponry over the millions of years they have evolved. They are known as experts at defending themselves, which seems counterintuitive because they don't have the protection offered by bones or shell with which to repel predators. Some cephalopods even take fleeing from prey to the next level, like the Japanese flying squid, who can launch its body out of the water to avoid predation. Some are adept at using their skin cells to change colors, and this technique is not only used for camouflage, but also to turn parts of their bodies into either an attractant or repellent by producing some truly startling colors. All cephalopods live in salt water and some can live up to fifteen years. Most cephalopods, however, do not live that long at all.

This book was so packed with interesting information that it was like a treasure trove for readers looking for strange tidbits to keep the brain churning. For example, did you know that there are a few squid who can expel a mucus-filled ink that actually mimics the form of the squid when it's released, making it easier for the animal to escape? Or that most cephalopods have three hearts and copper-based blood (as opposed to human iron-based blood)? Many people have probably heard that a cephalopod arm is capable from separating from the body, but did you also know that the severed arm has the capability to live independently for hours? Some cephalopods can even leave the water to hunt on land at certain times. One of the most interesting things I found while reading is that some cephalopods are filled with a protein based bio-luminescent bacteria that enables them to turn lighter and darker beneath the waves, enabling them to be both invisible to predators and giving them light with which to hunt more capably.

The research side of this book was also fantastic. Because of cephalopod research, the field of neuroscience has advanced monumentally, and studying cephalopods has helped science fill in questionable evolutionary gaps that have remained unsolved for hundreds of years. Research on squid has even proved promising in the search for a cure to Alzheimer's. It was also interesting to discover that squid share many characteristics with humans, such as binocular vision, similar neurons and neurotransmitters, and even some intellectual developments. The book also shares the fascinating logistics of cephalopod reproduction (which was an eye-opening section indeed), and expounds on the ability of cephalopods to solve complex and multifaceted puzzles. In fact, researchers at this point are a bit stumped in devising puzzles for these animals that will challenge them, because at this point, they have figured them all out in record time. As of this book's writing, scientists are trying to discover a way of quantifying cephalopod intelligence, which is proving to be a difficult task indeed.

Reading this book was like being in a natural science class, but unlike a science class, the book was always entertaining and relevant and never repetitious or boring. I found so much here to pique my interest, and as far as science writing goes, this book was top-notch. Maybe I'm the only one who thinks that the myriad creatures of the sea are fascinating, but I have to say, if you pick up this book and give it a few pages, you will be just as engrossed as I was, I'm sure of it. In this fascinating look into the science of cephalopods, no stone is left unturned. A remarkable read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Of Squid and Men, April 26, 2011
This review is from: Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid (Hardcover)
The New York Times Book Review characterized her 2007 book " Cape Wind" as a great summer read. That can certainly also be said of Wendy Williams's latest - KRAKEN - a survey into the wondrous world of squid, cuttlefish and octopuses. "Kraken" was the name given by seafarers to a mythological and allegedly dangerous sea-monster nobody had really encountered and of which there was only superficial knowledge. It reportedly could drag a whole ship, sailors and all, down to the bottom of the sea. Williams, who has written for the New York Times, Scientific American and many other publications, acknowledges that the size of animals might have been considerably greater in prehistoric times, but such a giant squid would even then have made an unlikely appearance.
As Williams herself says, the science of these animals is not for the faint of heart. There's a lot of catching, cutting and dissecting of the Cephalopods - animals with their legs attached to their head. This is graphically rendered in the b/w illustrations and might indeed reduce that great-summer-read experience. But with the recommendation of Neil Shubin, the quality of the science should be in order. One can think of his " Your Inner Fish" and another wonderful book " A Fish Caught In Time", written in 1999 by Samantha Weinberg. The latter relates the search for the " living fossil"- fish the Coelacanth, eventually found in the waters around Madagascar and named "Latimeria Chalumnae" after Marjorie Latimer who at the time was a junior member of the research team.
Not surprisingly, there is a journalistic feel to Williams's writing. It's casual and loose and makes for pleasant reading. Some sentences could perhaps have been looked over a bit more. " To better understand why some cells become cancerous, researchers need to better understand..." or " The two formed the exceptionally powerful bond of two scientists..." are cases in point. But let's not be fussy, KRAKEN is fun to read and thought-provoking as well.
Forget about shark and tuna. Look into the flashing eye, perhaps as big as your own head, of a huge cephalopod, and try to figure: How intelligent are these creatures? And how, indeed, are we?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Light Reading, August 7, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid (Hardcover)
A few interesting info bits about squids and octopi. Mostly brief bios about scentists who research squid and octopi biology etc. Writing level is roughly middle-school. Works as light reading on a plane or if you are rather bored. Pop-Science consisting 90% pop and 10% science. If you decide to buy it get the cheapest edition you can find because the book is not a keeper.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book, June 15, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid (Hardcover)
This is a wonderful book about squid. I gave it to my sophisticated 11-year old niece who couldn't put it down.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book, February 22, 2011
This review is from: Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid (Hardcover)
From the absolutely gorgeous 19th Century image on the cover, to the small black & white vignettes throughout the text, through Ms. Williams' luminous use of words, it is undeniable that this is a beautiful book! The kraken exist in the depths of the ocean, and in myth. Ms. Williams makes them live for us and, with facts, wonder and philosophy, treats us to an exciting exploration of the mystery and expansiveness of the entire ocean world.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating., July 4, 2014
By 
alex awn (Ferndale, MI, US) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid (Hardcover)
read about this book in GQ. bought it. it's good.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend it., April 11, 2014
This review is from: Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid (Hardcover)
Aside from elucidating the science of squids, octopuses and cuttlefish, which is as fascinating as advertised, it is also a terrific discussion about biology, evolution and animal intelligence. Written so that that the lay-person can enjoy it and learn from it, it is still a relatively in-depth look at what we know about some very enigmatic creatures and how our research of them can inform our knowledge of ourselves.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid
$21.95 $13.87
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.