162 of 188 people found the following review helpful
Boring Book Heavy with Anti-Science Bigotry,
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This review is from: State of Wonder (Hardcover)
This book was recommended to me. My friend was sure that I would love it. I was very disappointed and struggled to finish it.
First, the good in the book is that the author spins a reasonably suspenseful story. It's not edge of your seat suspenseful but it's typical for middle of the pack fiction. When I think I know the ending of a book, I write down my guess and I guessed this ending by the time the main character got to Brazil.
Now, the bad and there's lots of bad. A recognized science fiction author writing this book would be laughed off the planet. So many elements of the "science" in this story are wrong and bizarre and it's not bizarre in a good way. The author has no clue what would be required to do the science she describes in the book. Since this is mainstream fiction and not science fiction, I guess you don't need to do the research. Without 10 tons or more of diesel generators, you could not outfit a lab to do what this author suggests these folks were doing in the jungle. The dropped comments about the FDA are plain wrong. The author doesn't seem to understand what a vaccine is. The errors are endless.
There is a very heavy handed bigotry in this book. The author drops comments here and there suggesting that scientists are without creativity. The main character lost her imagination when she took inorganic chemistry. Please. Scientists and engineers are the most creative people around. Discovery and imagination are their life. And, by the way, let's jot a little post-it note about the "scientists" in this story; they were not practicing science. They were just nuts.
A major political point in the story is that pharmaceutical companies will not fund vaccine research on malaria because they can't make big money on it since it is largely a disease of the third world. There is no doubt that making money is the primary goal of the pharmaceutical industry and, guess what, there IS big money in a vaccine for malaria. For example, our military desperately wants an effective vaccine and they are willing to pay big bucks for it. The reason there is no vaccine for malaria is not for lack of trying. It's because it is a very difficult beast to tame.
Finally, the prose, the descriptions, the basic tools of the novelist were not well used in this book. I did not feel the jungle. It was like reading a so-so travel piece in an airline magazine.
I don't like writing bad reviews. I want every book I read to be wonderful but this book was a poorly researched and boring and bigoted.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 4, 2012 7:40:07 PM PST
Marie Lutz says:
My only disagreement with your insightful review is that the story was reasonably suspenseful.
Posted on Apr 18, 2012 5:44:27 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 18, 2012 5:45:09 PM PDT
Sandy Avakian says:
This book was recommended to me by a friend. Oh so boring!! I couldn't get started so I skipped a few beginning chapters and started up again when her plane landed in the Amazon. I had to just kill it, so I gave up and returned it the Library. Thankfully I didn't buy it!! I can't even give it one star..........
Posted on May 9, 2012 8:40:45 AM PDT
As a science-minded layperson, I appreciate this review. No amount of foggy "imagination" will make up for errors that could be so easily corrected. I bet she can't balance her checkbook, either :)
Posted on Jun 12, 2012 10:44:16 AM PDT
V. Webb says:
Excellent review! My review of this novel focused on the ignorant and bigoted portrayal of indigenous people. Thank you for pointing out that this is also an ignorant and bigoted portrayal of Science!
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 6, 2012 8:43:31 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 6, 2012 8:45:33 AM PST
This story seems to be close to that used for "Medicine Man". I think that most may pick up the book based on affinity for the author and not for a semi-original story line. It's been recommended to me but I am not excited about more fictionalized Amazonian-style adventure when so many true stories exists to fill this category.
Posted on Jun 7, 2013 1:32:35 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 7, 2013 1:38:41 PM PDT
Great review! I just read the book, borrowed from the library, and agree with everything you said. Being a scientist myself, I think I should be sad that it is just a reflection of the general ignorance in science, that this book has been written, published, sold well and given 5 stars.
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