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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Review: Into the Drowning Deep (Rolling in the Deep #1) by Mira Grant

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Synopsis from Good Reads:

Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

Several years ago there was a popular mockumentary on tv about mermaids. They weren’t The Little Mermaid type of mermaids, either. And there were people who didn’t understand that it wasn’t a real documentary and got really upset over it. When I heard of this book, it reminded me of that tv show and I knew I wanted to read it. This is not the kind of book I normally read and while there were many parts I really enjoyed, there were many I didn’t care for either. My thoughts are kind of all over the place on this book and my review will be, as well.

Science, Science Everywhere! I knew from reviews I read before starting this book that there was going to be a good amount of science involved. This isn’t something I generally appreciate in novels, but I thought I could skim through those parts if I needed to. The thing is, though, that the majority of characters were scientists and scientific thoughts was just part of their POV. There is no getting away from the science in this book. I was thankful I read this on an e-reader that I could easily look things up, as terms were thrown around without any explanation. Even though I didn’t exactly like this part of the book, I thought it was incorporated in a way that made sense and there wasn’t a lot of over the top description.

It was super preachy on environmental issues. If you’re someone who use the terms “Climate Alarmists” or “tree-huggers”, this book might be a little too much for you. It’s kind of one long, never-ending lecture on how humans are bad and ruin the planet. However, the book is about scientists, so you should expect those kinds of conversations.

Lots of great character development, but not very likable characters. The book bounces around many different POVs. While I don’t always like that technique, I thought it worked really well here. We even get the POV of the mermaids a few times, which I really enjoyed. I felt like we got a good deal of character development from all the POVs we got and even though that made the book a little long, it was worth it. Unfortunately, I found almost all of the characters pretty unlikable. And the ones I did like are the ones I probably shouldn’t have (i.e. Michi and Jacques. They were crazy and awful, but fun to read).

There is gore, but not as much as I expected. For being a horror novel, I expected a lot more death and gore than what was involved. There was a lot more time spent on scientific explanations than on horror. There were some really well-written scenes of suspense and fear, but for the most part I didn’t really feel the urgency for survival from the characters that I wanted. While there were many deaths, there were very few that actually made an impact.

Overall, I liked Into the Drowning Deep, but not as much as I was hoping to. The chapters were long and the pace was pretty slow most of the time. I felt like I spent all of my free time reading and it still took me several days more to finish it than I was expecting. I felt like the character development and the moments of suspense were enough to save it from the slower paced science information for the most part, but then I found the ending really anticlimactic. This book is listed as #1 in a series, but I’m not sure if there will be more books coming or just because there was a prequel novella. I do plan on reading the novella and I might consider reading a sequel if there is one. If you’re someone who like a little horror and a lot of science, this book might be for you.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 3.5 Stars