Thursday, October 27, 2011


Um. Er. It's Thursday, and that means Bookanista day, and I'm judging for the Cybils, and we have a bunch of monsters coming to our house this weekend for a costume party, and HALLOWEEN is coming, and...

Maybe you should just imagine me hyperventilating as I welcome you to this week's book recommendation for both the Cybils and the Bookanistas--DEADLY by Julie Chibbaro.

Bring on the book deets, courtesy of Goodreads:
A mysterious outbreak of typhoid fever is sweeping New York. Could the city’s future rest with its most unlikely scientist?

If Prudence Galewski is ever going to get out of Mrs. Browning’s esteemed School for Girls, she must demonstrate her refinement and charm by securing a job appropriate for a young lady. But Prudence isn’t like the other girls. She is fascinated by how the human body works and why it fails.

With a stroke of luck, she lands a position in a laboratory, where she is swept into an investigation of the fever bound to change medical history. Prudence quickly learns that an inquiry of this proportion is not confined to the lab. From ritzy mansions to shady bars and rundown tenements, she explores every potential cause of the disease. But there’s no answer in sight—until the volatile Mary Mallon emerges. Dubbed “Typhoid Mary” by the press, Mary is an Irish immigrant who has worked as a cook in every home the fever has ravaged. Strangely, though, she hasn’t been sick a day in her life. Is the accusation against her an act of discrimination? Or is she the first clue in a new scientific discovery?

Prudence is determined to find out. In a time when science is for men, she’ll have to prove to the city, and to herself, that she can help solve one of the greatest medical mysteries of the twentieth century.

Confession time--any book in which the science geek saves the day makes me feel cool by association. I'm a total science geek, and I NEED THINGS THAT MAKE ME FEEL COOL. PLEASE WRITE MORE BOOKS IN WHICH THE SCIENCE GEEK SAVES THE DAY.

But seriously, I seek out what I call "sciencey fiction," not the fantastic kind with spaceships and time travel, but books that are fictional but still full of medical mysteries and biochemistry and epidemiology so I can get my science fix without going back to school for a PhD. And this book is one of my favorites. The science is spot-on with the exception of a few liberties explained in the afterword, but don't worry because I honestly believe you don't need to be a member of the geek squad in order to appreciate it. Underneath the medical mystery is a darned good story.

Prudence is the kind of girl that I think we're all familiar with--she's spunky and smart and doesn't understand for a minute why she's doomed to a life of typing when she has a BRAIN, darn it. But I liked that Julie Chibbaro resisted the urge to make her a huge mouthpiece for feminist rights; instead, Pru says, "I want to do this, so why can't I?" and then proceeds to put her money where her mouth is instead of just ranting about it. I think that's a better story choice that keeps the action moving and gets us right into the meat of the story (and it's DISEASED meat). But the whole time, we're gently reminded that she's a girl, and she's breaking into what is predominantly a male profession, which is at turns scary and maddening and proud-making.

Typhoid Mary is not at all what you'd expect, and there are a lot of ethical issues brought up in regards to her treatment that are just plain fascinating. AAAAAAAH. I'm going to shut up on that account, but someone read it quick so we can talk about that. Please?

In short, I loved DEADLY, and it is totally worth checking out.

While you're at it, why not stop by the Cybils to see what the featured judges think of their recent reads? And then check out what the rest of the Bookanistas are up to!

Elana Johnson REVEALS something awesome!!!

LiLa Roecker announces a winner - plus a Past Midnight series giveaway

Christine Fonseca reveals books she cannot wait to read

Beth Revis interviews My Very UnFairytale Life author Anna Staniszewski

Shannon Whitney Messenger interviews Skyship Academy-Pearl Wars author Nick James & agent Jennifer Rofe – with giveaway

Jessi Kirby twirls for Audition

Shana Silver burns for Circle of Fire

Stasia Ward Kehoe travels to The Day Before


Stasia said...

Feisty Irish chick plus girls school plus NY plus deadly disease. OMG, why haven't I read this already. Thanks for the rec, clone sister!

Tere Kirkland said...

Nice. I love a period mystery. They're always so fun, and this one seems to have a great new spin.

Love the cover.

PS, For my newest arch nemesis act, I snuck into your house and slipped an envelope of anthrax into one of your books. You'll have to search them all to find it! Mwah-ha-ha!

PPS, Okay, fine, it's just powdered sugar. With a slight after-taste of anthrax.

Teacher said...

Nice Review! The book has me totally intrigued. I like science geek and smart women in YA fiction, so this is a must read. Thanks for sharing!

Jessica said...

Carrie, Have you read "Code Orange" by Caroline Cooney or the Forensic Mysteries series by Alane Ferguson? I have a feeling the nerdy scientist in you would love them...