[Review] The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Author : Rebecca Skloot

Genre : Non-Fiction

Published Year : 2010

Publisher : MacMillan

Page : 431 pages

Read : May-September 2015

Have you ever imagined if your body cells are still being used long after you’re dead? Henrietta Lacks lived in early 1900s and she died in 1952 because of cervical cancer. At that time when the word ‘chemotherapy’ had not even existed yet, not many people knew about cancer. Henrietta’s doctor took a little bit of her tumour cell and tried to culture it in the lab. Unexpectedly, the cell grew very quickly and uncontrollable.

Those cells even still keep growing after the owner died. Until now. HeLa is the most common type of cells used in medical science laboratories around the world. But, sadly people did not care about the source of that HeLa cells until around 1980s, which was roughly thirty years after Henrietta’s death.

I first heard about this book while I took a class about “Good Laboratory Practice” back then when I was completing my Master degree in Newcastle. My lecturer brought this book to the class, talking about how amazing is this book and that we can use it as our reference in doing a good laboratory practice. I tried to find this book anywhere, but could not find it. Luckily, my auntie gave this book as my birthday present last February. So, yeah finally I got a chance to read this amazing book.

How’s this book affect me? If you notice, it took me around 4 months to finish reading this book. I really enjoyed reading every sentence written in this book, from the very early pages until the end. Everything written in this book is so relatable with my field. I am working in medical science and has spent some years of my life being a scientist working in the lab. And I’m really familiar with HeLa cells.

The big question that tried to be exposed in this book is : Is it ethically acceptable when we take a tiny amount of human sample to be studied further for MEDICAL PURPOSE without providing any ETHICAL CONSENT FORM?

I recommend this book especially for people who are working in medical field. Actually I have my own opinion towards the pros & cons of this “ethical consent” issues, but I think that’s beyond the scope of this review post. I’m open for discussion if anyone of you also interested about the same topic.

We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.-ELIE WIESEL from The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code

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Looking For Alaska

Author : John Green

Genre : YA Fiction

Published Year : 2005

Publisher : Harper Collins

Page : 263 pages

Read : February 2014

Bought at : Periplus

Miles Halter is a typical fifteen years old nerdy boy. Yes, he is weird and he has an obsession on Famous people’s last words. Imagine a fifteen years old boy who love reading biography of famous (and also infamous) people. One of the famous people that truly inspire him is Francois Rabelais. Inspired by his last words : ” I go to seek a great perhaps”, Miles decided to leave his town and continuing his high school in a boarding school. When his dad asked him about his reason to go to boarding school, guess what was his answer. “I go to seek a great perhaps”. Insane.

However, spending some years in Culver Creek High School changed him a lot. There he met and became good friends with Chip Martin (a.k.a Colonel),  Alaska, and a Japanese guy.

Alaska is a brave nice girl. She helped Miles settle in the new school. In fact, she played a quite important roles in changing Miles characteristics. The story plot is quite stagnant from the start until the middle of the novel. I was a little bit shocked about what happen in the mid part of this novel, actually. I must say that John Green has successfully surprised his reader by creating that plot. This novel is divided into two big parts, before and after. There is a reason behind that, as well. You need to keep reading in order to reveal what is the reason.

In terms of the story plot, Looking for Alaska is darker if you compared to other books of similar YA genre. People say that it is a realistic young adult fiction and somehow I agree with that. The story in this novel deals with some sensitive issues, for example religion. I heard that this book was once banned. However, overall I could say that this is a good book to read. It’s not a kind of ‘heavy’ book which requires you to think and analyze while reading it.

 

“What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instanteous” -John Green

The Storyteller

Author : Jodie Picoult

Genre : Historical Fiction

Published Year : 2013

Publisher : Emily Bestler Books

Page : 507 pages

Read : February 2014

Bought at : Periplus

Sage Singer is a Baker by night. I love the name of the Bakery Shop, though. “Our Daily Bread”. Sage was in grief because she had lost her mother in a car accident and she kept blaming herself about the death of her mother. Therefore, she joined a grief support to share her stories with other people who have similar experiences and she hoped that she could relieve her regret a little bit. In this group, she met a 95 years old man, named Josef Weber. After their intense meeting in the support group, he along with his dog Eva, started to visit the Bakery Shop where Sage is working. They made a couple of conversations until one day Josef asked Sage to do him a favor. He asked her to help him die. Of course Sage was surprised. Was that man crazy?

He told her the reason and it led him to talk about his past. Josef was an SS soldier who have killed a lot of Jews during his “career”. Instead of directly helping him to die, Sage asked Leo Stein to identify Josef’s past. Leo is working in FBI and his job is to collect data and do research that related to Holocaust. Little by little, Josef’s true identity is being revealed. There was one shocking fact about him. He was actually haunting the life of Sage’s grandmother, Minka. Minka remember Josef as a cruel human being because he killed one of the most important person in her life, right in front of her face. Later on, it was become clear that Josef Weber was living all these year under a fake identification. He lied about himself. Knowing what he has done to her family, what do you think about Sage reaction? There are some twists in this novel and the ending is, for me, very shocking and unpredictable.

I bought this novel after reading some positive reviews about it on Goodreads. I am not a big fan of Jodie Picoult’s work. So far, I have only read four of her books, including The Storyteller. Before I read this novel, my favorite works of Picoult was My Sister’s Keeper. Now, I must say that this book is the best one so far. First of all, I like the big idea of Holocaust that she brings in this novel. I don’t know why, but recently I like to read novel about Holocaust. I am interested on stories about people who were involve in that major genocide and also on stories about the survivors.

While reading this novel, I could feel Sage who had to deal with her feeling after she knew about everything that Josef had been done to her family in the past. Should she forgive him? On the other hand, I also could feel Josef’s regret about his past. It must be very hard for him while he was still an SS soldier. He did all of those cruel activities because his commander told him to. Yeah, Holocaust is one of the worst tragedy of humanity that have ever happened in this world. Sadly, similar tragedies are happening nowadays at parts of this earth.

This is a very good novel. I must say, don’t judge a book by its author. Some people might think of Jodie Picoult as a great author. But, I just do not really like what she brings out in most of her novels that I have already read. Maybe I should read more of her literary works. I need your recommendations!

The Storyteller is not a kind of novel that can be read in one sitting. You must understand each sentence unless you want to get confuse about the story, because there are way so many characters mentioned in this novel and also the stories were told in different point of views. So you gotta be concentrated.

5/5 stars for this novel! 🙂

“Forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself.”

Wishful Wednesday (6)

Halo! Sudah lama saya melewatkan meme ini. Hihi..maaf kelewatan terus. Oke berhubung WW yang sebelum-sebelumnya saya buat di blog saya yang satunya lagi, jadi langsung dilanjut saja ya disini.

Untuk WW minggu ini saya lagi pengen membaca kumpulan cerpen (omnibus) yang berjudul “Perempuan Yang Melukis Wajah“. Kenapa sih pengen baca buku ini? Faktor utamanya sih karena salah satu penulisnya adalah Hanny Kusumawati. Saya mengikuti blog-nya Hanny semenjak beberapa tahun yang lalu dan menurut saya tulisannya bagus sekali. Karya pertama dia yang saya baca adalah 28 hari, novel duet dengan @ndorokakung. Kemudian, tahun lalu saya juga membaca cerpennya yang merupakan bagian dari omnibus “Jika“. Saya suka diksi yang dia pakai di cerpen-cerpennya. That’s why I always waiting for new entries on her blog and also her other written works. Berikut sinopsis “Perempuan Yang Melukis Wajah” yang saya ambil dari Goodreads.

Alangkah banyak cerita yang dapat disampaikan rinai hujan.

Kisah tentang kekasih, perjumpaan, kehangatan. Seorang pengelana yang bertemu belahan jiwanya di bandara perhentian yang ramai. Kekasih yang berbagi kehangatan kala hujan deras mengetuk kaca jendela di luar.

Namun, ada pula cerita tentang perpisahan, kerinduan, dan kenangan. Seorang anak lelaki yang merindukan ibunya setiap kali hujan turun. Sahabat yang merelakan kekasihnya menempuh hidup baru. Seorang perempuan yang mengenang lelakinya dalam lukisan.

Di buku ini terhimpun sebelas cerita cinta dari delapan penulis. Pilihlah tempat untuk membaca. Siapkan secangkir kopi. Mulailah dari halaman mana saja. Dan bila kau mau menajamkan telinga, sayup-sayup akan terdengar derai halus hujan di latar belakang.

Selamat membaca

Saya suka cover bukunya. Itu adalah alasan lain kenapa saya ingin sekali baca buku ini. Saya juga suka hujan, walau gak suka hujan-hujanan. Sepertinya benang merah kisah-kisah di buku ini adalah hujan. Jadi, kayanya cocok banget lah ya buat saya. Semoga saya bisa membaca buku ini sebelum musim hujan usai, supaya masih dapat feel-nya. Hahaha.

Beberapa waktu lalu saya lihat buku ini tersedia di Reading Walk. Mungkin saya akan coba pinjam dari sana. Tapi, gak tahu kapan. Masih banyak buku lain yang mengantri untuk dibaca. :p

Kalian juga bisa ikutan meme ini. Aturannya bisa dilihat di blog-nya Kak Astrid di sini ya.

Delirium

Author : Lauren Oliver

Genre : YA, Dystopian

Published Year : 2011

Publisher : Harper

Page : 441 pages

Bought at : Books & Beyond

Read : January 2014

“Love : a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That’s what it is : an edge; a razor. It draws up to the centre of your life, cutting everything in two. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.” – page 301

Can you imagine a world without love? In Delirium world, love becomes a terrible thing that must be eradicated.  Love is considered as a severe disease because it makes people suffer.

Every people who have reached the age of 18, must undergo a certain medical procedure in their brain to cure their amor deliria nervosa syndrome, or love syndrome. The purpose is to make people live happily and safe forever. When you are falling in love with someone, it affects your body metabolism. It makes your heart beats faster. It makes you emotionally unstable. It even makes you loose your concentration, sometimes. In an extreme case, amor deliria nervosa could end up with death.

Lena is no exception. She is currently counting the days until she has to undergo the medical procedure. As a rule, before you undergo the procedure, you will be evaluated first by the scientists. Your profile will be matched up with a boy’s profile . They will find the suitable one for you, so that after you have done with the procedure, you will get married with the person whose profile match yours.

One day, Lena and her best friend Hanna went to the lab for some preliminary examination before they undergo the real procedure. There they met a guy named Alex, a typical cold guy. However, it is very obvious that Lena and Alex has already developed a certain feeling since the first time they met at the lab. They did not need long time to realize that they are falling in love with each other. The problem arose when Lena knew that she already got paired with a random guy. His name is Brian Schaff. Lena found him weird and she could not imagine if finally they would get married and spend the rest of their lives together. But that is the regulation. Right after Lena has been ‘cured’, she must marry Brian because they are matched, based on the evaluations. Do you think Lena will just follow the procedures and end up with Brian?

The last part of this novel mostly tells about how Lena tries to find ways in order to avoid undertaking the procedure. For her, there is only Alex and she does not want that feeling to be erased from her mind. She chooses to suffer, as long as she can be with him. At the end of the story, Lena made a huge and also risky decision about her life. Was it a right decision for her? I bet you will be surprised with the ending.

I found out about this book the first time back  in 2011. I instantly fell in love  after reading  synopsis and all of the positive reviews on Goodreads.  Unfortunately, it was very hard to find this book in my hometown back then,  so I never owned it until December 2013.

I love everything about Delirium. The idea of the story is so ‘out of the box’. The author tries to describe love from another perspective. It is true that most of the times, love makes people suffer. However, it does not mean that people do not need love anymore. Sometimes it hurts being in love but we always give second chance when it comes to love, don’t we?

I am definitely giving this novel 5/5 stars, because of the story idea, the plots, the science terms that are widely used all over the novels, and the twist ending. I really enjoy reading Delirium and recommend this book for all people who are crazy about young adult stories, dystopian, and slightly science.

This is the first book in Delirium Trilogy. The second one is Pandemonium and the last one is Requiem. I am not sure, though if I would read the other two books, as the synopses have already contained major spoilers. Oh no!

And last but not least, the phrase amor deliria nervosa is so catchy. Like it! 🙂

“You can build walls all the way to the sky and I will find a way to fly above them. You can try to pin me down with a hundred thousand arms, but I will find a way to resist.” – page 441

This review is submitted for YA Reading Bingo

category : A book set in the future

A Very Yuppy Wedding

Pengarang : Ika Natassa

Genre : Fiksi Metropop

Tahun terbit : 2007

Penerbit : Gramedia Pustaka Utama

Jumlah Halaman : 282 halaman

Dibaca ulang pada : Januari 2014

Andrea dan Adjie adalah dua orang bankir yang bekerja di salah satu Bank nasional ternama. Keduanya masih muda dan penuh dengan ambisi untuk mencapai posisi setinggi mungkin. Mereka berdua adalah sepasang kekasih yang bertemu untuk pertama kalinya setelah bekerja di Bank tersebut. Hubungan mereka sudah demikian serius, dan saat ini mereka tengah merencanakan pernikahan. Berhubung ada kebijakan di sebagian (atau semua?) bank di Indonesia yang tidak memperbolehkan pasangan suami istri untuk bekerja di tempat yang sama, permasalahan mulai timbul di antara Andrea dan Adjie.

Mereka terpaksa pacaran dengan gaya backstreet. Namun, nampaknya usaha backstreet mereka tersebut gagal total setelah seorang bos mereka mengetahui tentang hubungan ini melalui salah satu anggota keluarga Adjie. Apa yang terjadi selanjutnya? Apakah karir mereka akan hancur akibat peristiwa ‘kepergok’ ini? Kalau saya ceritakan semua disini, maka jatuhnya akan spoiler. Makanya, kalian baca saja sendiri ya.

A Very Yuppy Wedding adalah novel pertama Ika Natassa. Namun, ini adalah novel dia yang paling terakhir saya baca. 🙂 Seperti novel-novelnya yang lain, latar belakang profesi karakter utama di novel ini adalah bankir. Alur ceritanya amat nyata sesuai dengan apa yang biasa terlihat dari para eksekutif muda ibukota. Hanya saja, terlalu banyak istilah teknis dalam bidang perbankan, yang bisa jadi tidak terlalu menarik bagi sebagian orang yang membaca buku ini.

Andrea dan Adjie digambarkan sebagai pasangan yang, secara fisik, sempurna. Andrea yang cantik dan Adjie yang ganteng. Penggambaran Andrea yang menjuluki Adjie sebagai “my five-o’clock shadow” sungguh membuat fantasi saya berkeliaran. Nampaknya, Adjie itu ganteng SEKALI ya. Sayangnya kadang Andrea terlihat kurang bersyukur atas nasib baiknya bisa punya pacar seperti Adjie. While Adjie is so flawless, sometimes Andrea acts just like a b****.

Di novel ini juga terdapat penggambaran mengenai sosok keluarga di Indonesia pada umumnya, yang diwakili oleh Ibu dan Bapaknya Adjie serta Mama dan Papanya Andrea. Bagaimana ketika dua orang yang mau menikah masih harus repot memikirkan tentang keluarga besarnya.

Saya memberikan rating 3/5 untuk buku ini. Ceritanya cukup menghibur, sebenarnya. Hanya saja penggunaan istilah teknis perbankan yang terlalu banyak di buku ini terasa agak mengganggu. Dan satu lagi, saya tidak terlalu suka dengan karakter Andrea. Dan sepertinya di novel ini Ika menceritakan tentang apa yang terjadi dalam kehidupan sebenarnya.  Sejujurnya, ini adalah novel karangan Ika Natassa yang paling buruk menurut saya. Novel-novel dia yang selanjutnya jauh lebih menarik daripada ini. Tapi dari novel pertamanya ini sudah terlihat bahwa Ika merupakan seorang novelis yang berkarakter dan tidak picisan. Saya paling tidak suka membaca novel romantis yang menye-menye. :p

Saya sudah membaca semua karya Ika Natassa dan berencana untuk membaca ulang beberapa bukunya di tahun ini. Dia adalah salah satu pengarang Indonesia favorit saya. Saya sangat menunggu karya-karya selanjutnya. 🙂

“I guess sometimes love makes us feel so selfless” – p.138

This review is submitted for 

Eleanor & Park

Author : Rainbow Rowell

Genre : YA Fiction

Published Year : 2013

Publisher : St. Martin’s Griffin

Page : 325 pages

Bought at : Books & Beyond

Read : January 2014

Eleanor and Park are just like another teenagers. They’re just a little bit different from their friends. Eleanor got a messy curly red hair and -don’t forget- she’s fat. That facts makes her impossible to join the popular girls club in school. Park is a Korean boy who has a very smooth skin. Some friends in his school are even questioning his masculinity because of his physical appearance. He also tries so hard to face all of those stereotypes about Asian guys.

Eleanor was  a new student in Park’s high school. They met in the bus, but none of them decided to start a conversation at first. Both of them feel insecure about themselves. They didn’t realize that actually they’re falling in love with each other. Eleanor comes from a broken family and she never know what ‘s the definition of ‘love’. All she knows in her life is her parents fighting with each other. She’s never been kissed by someone in her whole life. So, no wonder if she feels awkward and strange when finally she got her first kiss from Park.

Park, on the other hand, comes from a happy family. There are no reasons for him to feel insecure other than his physical appearance. But, hey, what’s wrong with being the only Asian in your school or even in your town?

Both of them then involve in an up and down relationship. Park is so caring, whilst Eleanor is a bit defensive. I understand her behavior more or less is the result of her broken family.

This is a young adult novel which have a deeper plot if you compare to other novels with the same genre. Eleanor & Park deals with some issues that happened in the year when this novel set. It sets in the year 1986, by the way. I honestly didn’t understand much about what happened in that era. But the coolest things about this novel are that they still recorded music in cassettes, instead of downloading from the internet like the present days. Radio tapes were still exist during those days. And don’t forget, walkman! Oh, the glory of the days before 2000 generations. lol. I, myself, had my childhood in the 90s and practically still experienced quite similar situations. I can pretty much relate myself with the story.

The major part of this novel is about first love. And then you will find some parts about the story of an imperfect family. Don’t expect a happy ending from this novel, because there’s almost no happy ending for a first love, right? 🙂 In my opinion, this is how a young adult fiction should be written. This novel really describe the life of teenagers. Believe me, regardless their racial backgrounds, teenagers are dealing pretty much the same problems. You name it, love, bullying, school problems, issues with parents. You know, something like that. Rainbow Rowell has successfully elaborated all of those issues in this novel.

However, there’s one scene that quite annoyed me. I’m sorry to say. I’ll quote the scene here :

“What’s your dad?”

“An a**”

He frowned

“What? You wanted honest and intimate. That’s way more honest than ‘Scottish'”

Umm..I find it sensitive for some people. It’s a bit racist.

But, I got lots of favorite quotes as well from this book. My most favorite one is this :

“I just can’t believe that life would give us to each other, then take it back”

I would highly recommend this book to all teenagers who believe way too hard in their first love. Take it easy, guys! In most cases, first love will remain as ‘first love’. As you grow older, you will laugh on your so called ‘perfect first love’. Though it applies to some people, but mostly first love have no happy endings.

I gave 3/5 stars for Eleanor & Park. I enjoyed this book, but that racist scene is quite disturbing my reading experience. Well, I’m not a Scottish or (by any chances) have a Scottish boyfriend or what. Haha. It’s just I don’t like how that scene is written. That’s all.

By the way, I adore the cover of the US Version!! So simple yet adorable.

I am definitely looking forward to read other Rainbow Rowell’s works! 🙂

This review is submitted for

Category : A book set in high school