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

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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  173 ratings  ·  44 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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Shawn
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...more
Matt G.
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...more
Simon Chadwick
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...more
Meltha
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
Jason
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
Kim Madal
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...more
Claudia
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
Janie
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...more
Bridgette
Apr 03, 2012 Bridgette rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Samuel
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...more
Andrew Shuping
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 story...is...well 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...more
Shannon
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
Lou
This is an amazing use of the graphic novel genre as textbook. Human genetics is explored visually in such depth that the casual reader or teen reader may quickly dismiss this tremendous effort without giving it the chance it deserves. It's appearance may be daunting at first glance, but give it a chance. Schultz attempts to instruct young readers with a clever story about an alien scientist coming to Earth to explore the mysteries of genetics and to determine how human genetics may help save hi...more
Hippopottoman
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
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.
Natalie
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.
Elaine
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!
Cristen
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.
Nikki
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.
Kara
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.
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.
Recommended\.
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.
Meaghan
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.
Zoe
A witty, thoughtful, meaty introduction using graphic novel format to help you get your head round genetics and DNA. Lots of opportunities for laughing out loud at the same time as learning about alleles and much more. Highly recommended.
John
This is a graphic (i.e. cartoon-like) book about microbiology - cells, genes, cell building, reproduction, inheritance, etc. It is very detailed, amazingly easy to understand and I was totally amazed at what goes on in our bodies at the cell level. Highly recommened.
☆♥☆Katrin★♡★
4.5 stars
Well done Bloort 183; afterall "It is a fascinating planet". Really cute but with loads of information, but the author knows when to back track, give examples, and keep things humorous B>))
Recommended to anyone wanting Bio background info.
Sarah
Oy Vey! I know this simplifies genetics and DNA, but I'm still really confused. This is why I don't teach science. It's fascinating, but I really don't get it. If I understood all the concepts, I pretty sure my rating would be much higher.
Constance
eh, I really didn't care for this. The information was accurate enough, as far as I know, but the graphic-novel format didn't make it more interesting, and the alien explaining life on earth... just didn't grab me.
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