This book explores the fine line between rigorous science and individual dreams of success. Through the perspectives of different characters, we learn the story of Cliff, who has discovered a possible cure for cancer and Robin, his ex-girlfriend who believes that his results may be a bit too good to be true. Overseeing the lab are two senior scientists, one overly cautious and the other a brash seeker of publicity who realizes that research can only continue when grant money flows. This intriguing novel reads like a mystery as one anxiously strives to discover the truth while developing a real fondness for the characters.
Based in a cancer research lab, this story is one of research and deceit. I generally enjoy science-based fiction, but this one did not do much for me. I had trouble being drawn into the characters, never had a clear sense of the primary disagreement (although perhaps that was intentional by the author), and generally was bored about 2/3 of the way through.
A view into the competitive world of medical research, this novel also nicely develops it's characters and ther lives. This is obviously well-researched. I enjoyed this far more than "The Family Markowitz".
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Having worked in cancer research, it is amazing how Goodman (who is not a scientist) captured the personalities, thrills, frustrations, dilemmas, and downfalls that are so prevalent in the field. The ethical struggles of determining whether a scientist had fabricated results or not kept me coming back for more. My only disappointment was with the ending - I wish she had chosen to give the reader more closure. However, I think that was intentional, as was everything else in the story.
Interesting, illuminating read. Recommended.
I like novels where interesting characters are thrown in a fishbowl and left to swim. Here, the fishbowl is a high-stakes laboratory setting, and the impetus for the ensuing action is first the drive to succeed as a scientist and second the question of to what extent the actions of a particular scientist crossed a line into unethical behavior (and how that issue relates to the first issue). The unfolding action asks us to consider how the politics and relationships of the workplace make a differ...more I like novels where interesting characters are thrown in a fishbowl and left to swim. Here, the fishbowl is a high-stakes laboratory setting, and the impetus for the ensuing action is first the drive to succeed as a scientist and second the question of to what extent the actions of a particular scientist crossed a line into unethical behavior (and how that issue relates to the first issue). The unfolding action asks us to consider how the politics and relationships of the workplace make a difference in what work gets done. Interestingly, I therefore don't think that the laboratory setting is of primary importance: it is merely an attractive fishbowl.
However, as a scientist myself, I see in the novel a fable about why I should keep organized and complete lab records (and wonder if this should be be required reading for graduate students!) I see characters drawn to science for the same myriad reasons as the colleagues I've known, and the consequences on their actions. The brutality of cutting off a no-longer-promising avenue of research or of telling a postdoc that perhaps she should "just teach" resonate tremendously with me. I find it utterly remarkable that Goodman has captured so many of the sociological issues of science so well!
I really enjoyed this book. The characters are very multidimensional and the story pulls you in to the reality of day to day life in a research lab without making it boring.
I recommend it highly!
Interesting read about Post-doc research fellows who face strange circumstances. Explores ethical issues in a very interesting way. Very engaging book. I read this in 3 days!
I love Allegra Goodman. She breathes life into her characters. This novel was especially well researched. It takes the reader into the world of medical research. This might seem dry, but she creates such realistically specific characters that I was compelled to keep reading. I enjoyed her "Paradise Park" even more.
* * Â½ * A research scientist may have discovered the cure for cancer. Or did he? And why can't his process be replicated by others? This is more a character- than plot-driven book. There came a point, however, when I wanted to give up on the book cause it seemed to be going slow, and the dilemma regarding the ethics wasn't that suspenseful. Kudos, though, to the author for creating these characters. They all seem like real people with flaws and virtues.