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The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA
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The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  276 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
Let's face it: From adenines to zygotes, from cytokinesis to parthenogenesis, even the basics of genetics can sound utterly alien. So who better than an alien to explain it all? Enter Bloort 183, a scientist from an asexual alien race threatened by disease, who's been charged with researching the fundamentals of human DNA and evolution and laying it all out in clear, simpl ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 23rd 2009 by Hill and Wang (first published December 23rd 2008)
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Mar 29, 2015 Shawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, science
So good I teach it.

I bought this book because I am always looking for new ways to teach things to my high school students. After reading it, I went to my department head and (after he looked at the book) had little trouble convincing him to buy a classroom set to use to teach the basics of genetics. My class is now about half-way through the book and the students all seem to enjoy taking some time out to read (no mean feat in and of itself), and some have even said that seeing the pictures in th
Simon Chadwick
May 17, 2014 Simon Chadwick rated it it was amazing
What I’ve always loved about comics and cartoons is the way they can introduce you to moments in history, distant places and cutting edge scientific and technological thinking which can then go on to spark an interest in something deeper. Usually this happens within the context of a broader narrative, but every now and again along comes a cartoon strip that only exists to exploit the unique aspects of the medium.

The Stuff Of Life is written by Mark Schultz, famous for his utterly splendid Xenozo
Matt G.
Apr 10, 2014 Matt G. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know what you're thinking right now. You're probably looking at this book and having flashbacks to the mind-numbingly dull High School science classes you were forced to take on the subject of genetics. As a result, you're probably already groaning and about to close this page without giving it a second thought. But before you do, just give me a moment to explain to you why you should actually read this book.

Contrary to what High School might make you think, genetics is actually a fascinating
Desiree Brunelle
the stuff of life, is well full of life and all the way our world came to be. A life from of aliens that look very similar to the sea cucumber on earth travel to earth to understand how we survived and evolved. the lead investigator Blort have been to the planet many times and full understand our DNA and survival of the fittest. Blorts job is to help there home world stop dyeing from diseases that they have, and he must impress the king with his findings to make him understand that the key to li ...more
Mar 08, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informational books don’t usually seem like the kind of thing people read just for fun, but they can still be interesting to read. The Stuff of Life is a book about how cells work, specifically cells in the human body. Each page has paragraphs of text and requires a decent amount of memorization to get all the terms. It may not seem very entertaining, but the entire book is told as if an alien is telling another alien about it and is actually somewhat humorous. The visuals behind the text are ca ...more
James DiVasta
The Stuff of Life has been a unique graphic novel to read. The book is a story of the world and the human race and how evolution takes places from the moment of our planet's existence. But all of it is a scientist from another planet of these sea-cucumber like species and it's their research on Earth. The book goes on about sex, reproduction, evolution, the planet's, genetics. DNA. All that plus more. It does drag on quite a bit though. I get it's supposed to be informational, but it was hard to ...more
May 04, 2011 Janie rated it liked it
Someone asked me what it was that made me want to read this book.

• I needed a biology 101 reintroduction. (Side note: my biology 101 class at university was taught by confused creationists. The class was a DISASTER. With a capital D. Literally.)
• I have a thing for graphics ... maybe especially non-fiction graphics.

That's it.

What I appreciate most about this book is that I got from it terms I can use to help me be more mannered in my informing my gracious hosts about my diet restrictions. When I
May 21, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Name: Kimberly Madal
APA Citation: Schultz, M, (2009). The Stuff of Life: A Graphic Guide to Genetics and DNA. New York: Hill and Wang
Genre: Non-Fiction
Format: Graphic Novel
Selection process: YALSA's Best Graphic Novels for Young Adults booklist

This book is hands down the best way to learn about genetics and DNA. The graphic novel makes it interesting for anyone to learn about the smallest parts of the human body. The explanation of DNA, genetics, and the importance to the human body is told from
Mar 10, 2014 Geoff rated it really liked it
Pretty good as far as I can tell. Cute frame story. Nice illustrations. Came out before recent discovery that Homo Sapiens did Tha Nasty with Neanderthals. And also the length of time Aborigines have been in Australia has moved further back. And some wee hominids have been found in Indonesia. But still an informative read for a genetics and DNA layman like me.

I think, however, of a scientific essay by Noam Chomsky I read 15-odd years ago. Describing the functions of pieces of the eye, he explain
Sep 04, 2011 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I continue to build my class library, I wanted to expand my nonfiction collection. What better way than to get a graphic novel/nonfiction hybrid on genetics? This fabulous book explains genetics, DNA, and their implications in our modern society through concise text and entertaining images. As I read this book, flashes of my high school biology class came back to me, especially the stages of mitosis and Mendel's pea plant findings. The human genome project is explored as well, which was compl ...more
I think I would need to read this over again at least twice, taking notes, to get all the information out of it (and weirdly I had one page that repeated in my copy, so there was a printer issue). That stated, this is a perfect example of how graphic novels can be highly useful in getting across information. The number of illustrations was necessary to explain the various genetic processes, how DNA and RNA interact, etc. The follow-through plot of Bloort explaining to the Squinch population how ...more
Blech -- I tried!! I suspended my disbelief as a sea-cucumber-type alien reported back to his superiors about his research project on Earth...I tried to follow his oh-so-clever descriptions using proper scientific terms... I patiently waited for the narratives about the scientists in the field of genetics and DNA research...I was almost there. And then, in two frames the author lost me: "There are still some finishing touches that need to be attended to. Those RNA primer nucleotides that got rep ...more
Apr 03, 2012 Bridgette rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in genetics, science geeks
Recommended to Bridgette by: Goodreads
Shelves: science
2.5 stars. Very interesting and informative; a good review of basic genetics with some new information as well. I had a few problems with this book, however. The back-story is that there's this ridiculously-named alien race on some planet with a ridiculous name that is suffering from some (unnamed)genetic problem. It was almost too cutesy for me; I wanted an interesting comic book about genetics that was purely facts, not turned into a cartoon with smiling eggs and sperms!!!! Speaking of which, ...more
Jan 03, 2010 Samuel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I spent the last couple months wadding through a number of books intended as civil introductions to genetics and this is by far the best that I have found. The graphic elements really help to explain ideas that seem overly complex and impossibly abstract when described with words only. The book is efficient, quick to read, summary of the organizational structure of DNA and its related processes as well as explaining some of the human scientific history that lead to our current understanding.

I ha
Just as good as their book on evolution but tackling more complex concepts, especially in the first section. I get the sense this is the prequel to the other one because there's only the king and the scientist but no young prince though they are trying to fight the same vague genetic disease by learning about Earth's genetics and evolution. It is definitely more concrete and complicated, however, but the single page sidebars on modes of inheritance, politics of science, and biology before Mendel ...more
Andy Shuping
Feb 24, 2013 Andy Shuping rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
short note review: (really 2.5 stars)

I'm torn on this book...the artwork is great. It reminds of Jeff Smith's Bone and the character design of Owly. It's aliens telling the story of genetics on the planet earth to other aliens. Its got just the right amount of humor in the drawings to make the story fun.

The its a bit overwhelming to be honest. I mean I had to look up a number of the terms to understand what they meant. I mean if I had a science teacher sitting there with me it
Feb 11, 2009 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a graphic guide (comic basically) of how genetics and DNA works. It was incredibly well done, very informational, but really fun to read. I was astounded by how complex the basic elements of DNA were, specifically, how DNA and RNA are read, and how they replicate. It is basically a computer - it is really bizarre. It actually makes me a tiny bit more religious - I'm not kidding. It makes you think - "OK, there is no way that all of these processes for reading and writing DNA could have j ...more
Blair Conrad
Clever. An interesting take on instructing genetics. The "alien observer" viewpoint gave the author a reason to harp on earthly life's construction and human history in an interesting and less inflammatory way than might otherwise have been done. So far as I can tell, the science is solid, presented well - not dry, and with a sense of humour. The illustrations were fabulous - clean, well-drawn panels, with plenty of details and often embellishments that served to at least decorate and often amus ...more
Dec 30, 2011 Cristen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This was a great review of some of the concepts from my general biology classes. After a couple semesters away, it helped me remember some stuff that i'd not thought about for a while, without being the drudgery of reading a textbook. The pictures were really helpful, I would totally recommend this to anyone who is struggling to visualize DNA replication concepts, meiosis, mitosis, or basic genetic concepts.
Sep 19, 2011 Elaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Actually finished this a long time ago, but forgot to update! This was such a great book. It really explained things well through visuals, and the humor was fantastic for getting through the more difficult parts. I'm reading The Emperor of All Maladies now, and this book has given me SUCH a better understanding of cancer and the inner workings of cells. Highly recommended for everyone curious about how DNA works!
Mar 20, 2014 Natalie rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic
My husband's cousin Zander Cannon illustrated this graphic novel. It is fantastic. Funny, informative, and zany in a graphic novel kind of way. We got several copies to give around as Christmas gifts and everyone has liked it. I imagine it as a great tool for teachers - to reach kids (especially jr. high school boys?) in a meaningful way on this topic. I think they will do several more books on different science-y topics.
Mar 16, 2010 Staci rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
2009 Great Graphic Novel for Teen award. This is not your parent's science textbook. This is science text meet comic book and it works! It is told in report format; interplanetary biologist Bloort 183 was sent to Earth to research the fundamentals of human DNA in hopes of solving the mystery of his planet's disease problems. The illustrations make even the most difficult scientific terms easy to understand. This is an enjoyable method of learning about genetics and DNA.
Cara Bishop
This graphic novel follows an alien as he describes genetics to his superior. All I can say is that I hated biology and could not comprehend anything in this book. I think this is mostly due to the fact that I never really wanted to learn anything of the sort in the first place, so I just tried to go as fast as I could through this book. If you are a science lover or enjoy reading science textbooks(not me) then this book is for you.
It's a different way to convey information about genetics and DNA. It was entertaining to see the fictional alien characters and how they sometimes perceived Earth and/or humans. I would recommend this book to people who want to know more about genetics and DNA. The comics medium is a good one for conveying information.
Jul 15, 2013 Nikki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I understood most of the science, but I had to draw on my 20-year-old memories of high school biology to do so. Some of this is just so complicated that squishing it down to a comic panel makes it harder, not easier, to understand. However, in the hands of a teacher who could illuminate the trickier bits, I bet this would be spectacular in a classroom setting.
Jul 17, 2012 Kara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this! I'm taking genetics next semester and it was definitely a nice overview! It really got into the topics and covered them in a way that makes perfect sense, I loved the illustrations (they really helped with understanding some of the complex ideas!)Overall, it was a very interesting book that I'd recommend to anyone who wants to know more about genetics or DNA.
Erlend Alvestad
This book is great way for a non-scientist to refresh some long-forgotten knowledge from high school biology, as well as acquiring some new insight. As a bonus, by framing this introduction to genetics and DNA within a story about extra-terrestrials researching terrestrial biology, the reader is asked to view our biosphere from a new perspective.
Richard Gombert
A good book. This presents a lot of good information on Human Genetics.
Some I knew, some I have forgotten and some new information that I did not know. However it is already somewhat dated. This book was done before some Neanderthal DNA had been sequenced.
But they did a good job in covering the ongoing research at the time.
This is essentially Genetics 101 in a graphic novel. I think the format would make this a good pick for young people and others who are bored or intimidated by science. I'm not a science whiz myself, but this book made genetics understandable, even at the molecular level, and it had a healthy dose of humor added as well.
Aug 21, 2009 Eclarep rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Science-phobes, people interested in genetics, biology teachers and Geneticists
Awesome book. I know genetics backwards and forwards (sorta a requirement for my job) but the book is fun, accurate and well illustrated. Kevin Cannon is a fellow Grinnellian and a great illustrator.
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