The Drew Lab at Columbia University
This is a guest post by a student in our program Amy Wray (@amykwray) who comes to us from UC Berkeley where she did her senior thesis on the theme of disease ecology in James Joyce’s work. -JAD
10 Reasons Why Young Scientists Should Read Literature
There are many reasons why everyone should read literature, but I believe that young scientists in particular can benefit greatly from engaging with literary texts. As an undergraduate I studied both Biology and English, and sometimes people ask me why I chose a seemingly unusual combination. Usually my answer is that I just kept taking classes in the things that I liked, but this response breezes over the true complexities of the matter. There is much more to the story because to me the two things aren’t so different after all, and I think that there are a lot of skills…
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Pawn by Aimee Carter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Pawn is just another YA dystopian novel. If you’re really into this genre then it is worth a read. I read so many great reviews of this novel but for me it just didn’t have that wow factor. In fact, there were several aspects that got on my nerves.
Pawn is set in an American meritocracy where at seventeen, citizens are required to undertake an aptitude test. This test determines their social ranking and job. With shadows of Soylent Green but a little bit more tasteful, overpopulation is curbed by sending the infirmed, elderly and excess children to Elsewhere. The concept of Elsewhere had too many holes for me and it wasn’t really explained well. There is only so much hunting that the politicians can do!
The protagonist, Kitty, has undiagnosed dyslexia. This is why she performs poorly on the aptitude test. If this novel is supposed to be able the inequity in our schooling system and society for people with learning disorders or disabilities – it fall falls dramatically short. It also seems to waver between supporting and destroying the meritocracy. The only strong message was anti monarchy. I’m really confused about what Carter was trying to convey. Most successful dystopian novels have a clear message for society to act upon – I don’t think it was there.
The huge issue I had with Pawn was the title. There were two tacked on references to chess. They really stuck out. If the Harts had actually been a monarchy, perhaps it would have worked better. In my opinion the metaphor of the pawn failed. The other issue I had with this novel was the sheer amount of dialogue. If it is made into a film, the screen writer will have an easy job. I know the old adage of show don’t tell but sometimes paraphrasing can save ten pages!
Some people have really liked this novel. I thought it was ok. I think if you’re a fan of the genre then you should read it and form your own conclusion. I doubt that I will read the rest of the series.
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