Saturday, May 31, 2014

Science Week

Banner by Maddie


This week we each read a science book from one of the subtopics we laid out for Reading University.  Our subtopics needed to fit one of the following criteria:

Earth Science - fiction or non-fiction book about natural disasters, climate change, or located primarily in the ocean or underground.
Life Science - fiction or non-fictin book about plants or animals.
Applied Science - fiction or non-fiction book about a medical condition, disease, epidemic, or science breakthrough or where the main character is a medical professional or scientist.
Science Fiction - science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, or dystopian genres and magical worlds.

Books Selected:

Zach (Science Fiction: Dystopian)

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  A dystopian novel where certain people suddenly develop super powers, which they use for evil.  These people are called Epics.  Some members of society (most of them) do not develop powers, and they are held at the mercy of the Epics.

Michelle (Applied Science: Medicine)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. It had the right mix of biographical stories, science facts, and moral questions to consider. Although non-fiction, it reads like a novel and was very engaging. Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer in the 1950s. At the time of her death, the doctors at Johns Hopkins took samples of her cells and were able to successfully grow and study them in the laboratory. Her cells have been vital in medical research throughout the years, and are still growing in labs today.

I found myself thinking about the Lacks family and medical research throughout the day as I was reading the book. I felt Rebecca Skloot did weave herself and her quest to research the Lacks family a bit much into the narrative, but her perspective added insights into the family and how they felt about Johns Hopkins, reporters, and the what happened to Henrietta's cells.

This would be a great book for a book club discussion, with the potential for rich dialogue regarding the potential moral repercussions and long-term advantages to medical research in general and specifically around cell research. Highly recommended.

Maddie (Science Fiction: Dystopian)

Invitation to the Game by Monica Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Earth, ruined by pollution, is a now dystopian society run almost entirely by robots.  Most people are unemployed, and are confined to cities to fight for survival.  Hiding from the thought police and overrun by gangs, a group of teens with diverse traits are invited to an exclusive, mysterious game.  A test of strength and teamwork, they must collect clues to gain the ultimate prize.

An absolutely excellent tale, with a twist ending of the ultimate prize.  I really enjoyed the character development, and wished there was a sequel.

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