Tag Archives: Saloni S. ’21

Pandemic (The Extinction Files Book #1) by A.G. Riddle (review by Saloni S. ’21)

Pandemic (The Extinction Files #1)Pandemic by A.G. Riddle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bioterrorism. We’ve read about it in the news, heard from the TV anchors, but have we truly understood the plausibility of a global pandemic from a bioterrorist attack?

In the seven hundred page science fiction novel Pandemic, the first book in the Extinction series, author A.G. Riddle explores our vulnerability to a pandemic in an interconnected, global world; Conner McClain, head of a group of scientists known as “the Citium”, releases a deadly viral strain deep into the heart of the developing countries of Africa. While these events are taking place, protagonists Desmond Hughes, who is struggling to regain his memories, and Peyton Shaw, an epidemiologist at the CDC, scramble to find the cause and cure of this outbreak before it takes even more lives. This well-researched novel takes us deep into the world of the epidemiologists and public health workers who place themselves in danger in order to save the lives of others.

As the disease spreads across continents infecting and killing millions, Shaw and Hughes unveil treacherous secrets hidden deep inside the core of the Citium and tirelessly work to save the human race and to apprehend the criminals behind this deadly attack. Throughout this engaging novel, Riddle combines science and historic facts with the thrill of an action-packed story, further enthralling the reader. By alternating among different characters’ points of view, the author intimately communicates the heart-wrenching emotions from each stunning revelation, drawing the reader deeper into the storyline. You won’t be able to put this book down.

I read Pandemic on a plane and definitely enjoyed it more than watching movies; the book also makes one appreciate the importance of research and resources invested in the early identification of pathogens and response mechanisms. Overall, Pandemic is a great story and I would definitely recommend this book to a reader who wishes to read an enthralling, informative science fiction novel. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Genome, which will be released in October this year! – Saloni S. ’21

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (review by Saloni S. ’21)

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

From start to finish, I was thoroughly captivated by Rebecca Skloot’s biography, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Skloot masterfully conveys the heartbreaking story of Henrietta Lacks, a thirty-one year old African-American woman suffering from cervical cancer whose cells were taken for research without her consent. With a magical sensation, I learned that Henrietta Lacks’ cells, dubbed HeLa by scientists, reproduced rapidly and continuously unlike any cells before, resulting in a scientific miracle; however, Skloot stresses the fact that Lacks’ family was not informed about the mystifying HeLa cells as they struggled to survive in poverty, while commercial ventures profited from her cells.

Skloot effectively describes the high racial tensions during the 1950s, with only John Hopkins Hospital available for African-Americans for miles; she also narrates harrowing stories of research conducted on unsuspecting patients, especially African-Americans. She was able to warm the Lacks family’s heart, despite their profound distrust of reporters, by promising to reveal the face behind the name HeLa. With ten years of devotion to writing this book, Skloot not only described the ethical issues behind HeLa cells and scientific cell research, but also emotionally articulated the frustration and story of the Lacks family. Overall, I was amazed at how Skloot evokes so many different emotions from the reader throughout this detailed and interesting 381 page book. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who would like to read a breathtaking, informative book about the science and ethics behind cell research. – Saloni S. ’21

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