Review: The DNA of You and Me by Andrea Rothman

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A smart debut novel—a wonderfully engaging infusion of Lab Girl, The Assistants, and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine—that pits the ambition of scientific discovery against the siren call of love.

How does smell work? Specifically, how do olfactory sensory neurons project to their targets in the olfactory bulb, where smell is processed? Justin McKinnon has hired fresh-faced graduate student Emily to study that question. What Justin hasn’t told Emily is that two other scientists in the lab, Aeden and Allegra, are working on a very similar topic, and their findings may compete with her research.

Emily was born focused and driven. She’s always been more comfortable staring down the barrel of a microscope than making small talk with strangers. Competition doesn’t scare her. Her special place is the lab, where she analyzes DNA sequences, looking for new genes that might be involved in guiding olfactory neurons to their targets.

To Emily’s great surprise, her rational mind is unsettled by Aeden. As they shift from competitors to colleagues, and then to something more, Emily allows herself to see a future in which she doesn’t end up alone. But when Aeden decides to leave the lab, it becomes clear to Emily that she must make a choice: follow her research or follow her heart.

A sharp, relevant novel that speaks to the ambitions and desires of modern women, The DNA of You and Me explores the evergreen question of career versus family, the irrational sensibility of love, and whether one can be a loner without a diagnostic label.

I received a copy of this title from the publisher. It does not impact my review. 

I was a little hesitant to pick up this book because of the heavy scientific content, but I admit I was drawn in by that beautiful cover. I thought it conveyed whimsy and lightness that would balance out the science jargon. However, my initial instinct was correct and the story ended up being way too science-heavy for me.

I felt like The DNA of You and Me ended up being more of a science lesson with a little bit of romance and self-reflection thrown in. And unless you are already familiar with the science, it’s probably not a lesson you will learn anything from. The author herself is a scientist that studies the sense of smell and perhaps because of this didn’t find it necessary to do any world building, if you will, for those of us that haven’t been in a lab since high school. Large portions of this book felt like reading another language. I also found the subject matter incredibly dull. The story was never able to make me care about the research of the sense of smell.

I probably could’ve overlooked the science heavy content if the rest of the story made up for it, but the characters and romance really felt lacking to me, as well. I never really connected to Emily, even though there were many aspects of her that I felt should have been relatable to me. I honestly thought her actions were kind of sociopath-like in the beginning as she manipulated the situation to get closer to Aeden. And Aeden was awful. He treated her horrifically in the beginning. Somewhere along the way he ended up with genuine feelings for Emily, but I couldn’t tell you when. The romance was dysfunctional and confusing with a total lack of chemistry.

Overall, The DNA of You and Me was not the book for me. The cover is basically the only good thing I can say about it. The characters were not likable or engaging, the romance was dysfunctional, and the story was just really dull. If you are interested in science and have some familiarity with the subject matter, you might well enjoy that part and be able to overlook the characters and romance. I should’ve stuck with my initial instinct to pass on this one, though.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 1 Star

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13 thoughts on “Review: The DNA of You and Me by Andrea Rothman

  1. Oh yikes. I totally get your perspective, though. Too much science would be a turn off for me, too. It’s fiction, so it needs to have a good story to even out the facts. In fact, the science should just back up the story in my opinion. I love learning new things, but if I wanted a complete lesson I would take a class. Great review, though.

  2. Wow. This sounds like it could have been quite the charming book but it fell way too short. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it at all. In your defense, it IS a pretty cover, haha. I hope your next read is better!

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