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#48hbc update 2: Science!

June 9, 2013

I was very indecisive this evening and could not decide what book to read. I picked up Martha Wells’ Emilie & the Hollow World but wasn’t feeling it, so put it down after reading the first chapter. Maybe I’ll get back to it later.

I did finish the next book I tried, which was

cover of Itch by Simon Mayo

Itch: The Explosive Adventures of an Element Hunter by Simon Mayo (fiction)

  • The book in brief: Some people collect baseball cards. Others collect books. {looks around} Itch collect elements. You know, as in lead, sulfur, phosphorous. His collection is pretty small, since he has to buy what he can’t scavenge from home and other elements are too dangerous to sell. When Itch gets his hands on what he thinks is uranium, but turns out to be an extremely radioactive unknown element that could change the world, he must figure out how to keep the rocks out of the villains’ clutches.
  • Continuing the trend of reading long, 400+ page books for this year’s challenge…
  • It’s overly long. It takes a while before the radioactive rock part of the plot is introduced, and I thought the denouement dragged a bit. Also, there’s reluctant reader appeal in terms of plot and characters, but I think the length will turn off some potential readers.
  • On the other hand, how often do you see a middle grade/YA fiction storyline with this much science that doesn’t involve cloning, genetic engineering, or extreme weather? If you can think of other recent books, let me know in the comments!
  • Another thing I liked: kids in school think Itch is weird, so he is very close to, and has positive relationships with, his younger sister and a female cousin.
  • Includes an author’s note with some background information about the scientific topics that are mentioned during the story.
  • Possible readalikes: The Project by Brian Falkner (which is a much shorter book), the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowtiz (except Alex is a trained spy and Itch is not), maybe Icecore by Matt Whyman. And Digit by Anabel Monaghan has a similar geek-whose-love-of-math/elements-leads-them-to-a-discovery-with-serious-like-we’re-talking-national-security-here-implications plot.

which put me in a scientific mood, so I followed that up with the first third of

cover of My Beloved Brontosaurus by Brian SwitekMy Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs by Brian Switek (adult nonfiction)

  • I’m not actually interested in dinosaurs per se, but how and why our knowledge of them has changed? And what “they’ve begun to teach us about evolution, extinction, and survival”? I’ll give a book about that a try.
  • Hey, he quotes Mike Brown in How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming.
  • Switek is a genial paleontological tour guide, part of what I’m beginning to consider the Mary Roach Road Trip School of Science Writing. Case in point: chapter three, “Big Bang Theory,” about dinosaur sex.

Then I decided I needed to go to sleep and will finish the book in the morning.

Today’s stats
Time read: 4 hours 9 minutes
Blogging time: 50 minutes
Pages read: 511

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