Double Helix

cover image for Double HelixWerlin, Nancy. (2004) Double Helix. New Yor, NY: Penguin Group.

Plot Summary:

Working with the exalted Dr. Wyatt of Wyatt Transgenics is supposed to be about solving the mysteries of science, but for Eli it’s also a way to try to uncover the secrets of his past.  His father may be dead set against Eli taking the job (although he won’t say why) but Eli knows that Dr. Wyatt is the only person both willing and able to explain the mysterious papers her found in his father’s desk.  With his mother dying from Huntington’s disease and his father growing ever more distant, Eli start to rely on Dr. Wyatt even more.  But can Quincy Wyatt be trusted?

Critical Evaluation:

Fascinating and fast paced, Double Helix is definite page turner.  It’s very consciously a young adult novel; not only does Eli struggle with his identity and maturing responsibilities and relationships, but the mystery itself echoes these themes. Which makes it all the more disappointing that Werlin could not stick the landing.  After close to several hundred pages about characters that are surprisingly raw and real, and a setting that is possible if not entirely probable, Werlin turns her realistically arrogant villain into a cartoon for no obvious reason other than to end with a lecture on the dangers of gene therapy. It’s a let down for readers who have been waiting to see how everything turns out and insulting to teens intelligence, as if they could not understand a more nuanced and ambiguous ending.

Reader’s Annotation:

Working with the exalted Dr. Wyatt of Wyatt Transgenics is supposed to be about solving the mysteries of science, but for Eli it’s also a way to try to uncover the secrets of his past.

Author Information:

http://www.nancywerlin.com/

http://www.facebook.com/nancy.werlin

Genre:

Mystery

Booktalking Ideas:

It has an interesting premise and characters, so I would likely stick with that.  I don’t know that I would ever booktalk this title though, because I don’t think I believe in it enough to sell it.

Reading Level/Target Age:

6th grade/14-18

Potential Controversy:

While the book tackles a controversial subject (and does so, in the end, in a heavy handed matter) it is not a particular lycontroversial topic in terms of adults getting nervous that teens may know or talk about it.  The sex discussed in the book is more likely to result in controversy.

Reasons for Choosing This Title:

I am a bit of a nerd so the idea of a science mystery appealed to me, especially when the book in question also won an Edgar Award.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: