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Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,694 Ratings  ·  548 Reviews
“Radioactive offer innumerable wonders….In this wholly original book about passion and discovery Lauren Redniss has invented her own unique form.” —Nicole Krauss, author of Great House and The History of Love



“Quite unlike any book I have ever read…sheer imaginative genius.” —Malcolm Gladwell





Radioactive is the visual journey into the life of Marie Curie, as told through the
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Hardcover, 208 pages
Published December 21st 2010 by It Books (first published November 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ken-ichi
Dec 28, 2010 Ken-ichi rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, xmas2010
This is an illustrated biography of Marie and Pierre Curie and an impressionistic exploration of the marks their pioneering research left on the world. As history, I thought it was great. Extensive reliance on primary sources, juxtaposition of the past (Marie's letters, a Russian map of Chernobyl) and the present (a phone interview with a nuclear security expert, collages by a survivor of Hiroshima), and a thorough list of annotated citations all made for a compelling, believable experience. As ...more
Courtney Johnston
It seems absurd to try to talk about this book without you being able to see it. It is easy enough to describe the story Lauren Redniss tells in this graphic biography, but hard to describe the emotional colour her images bring to her words.

The details of Marie Sklodowksa and Pierre Curie's joint biographies are reasonably familiar to readers of science history - his early scientific talent and her struggle to get a scientific education; their romance and marriage; their separate and joint rese
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Mainon
WOW.

This book is a new addition to my list of all-time favorites. Here is a short, incomplete list of the things I loved about it:

1. The subject. It's about Marie Curie, who is one of the most accomplished scientists of all time -- educational and inspiring! It's also about her actual discoveries, and how they changed the way we thought about the very nature of things. Double educational and inspiring! PS: did you know she was the first person, man or woman, to receive two Nobel prizes?

2. The br
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Alicen
Aug 17, 2015 Alicen rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommended
I loved this book for the sheer fact that when I put it down the other night and turned off the lights it GLOWED. A beautiful book in its genre-bending (is it a biography? A graph novel?) that I highly recommend (although I will note for those who know a lot about Marie Curie's life already it might be a tad boring).
Hannah  Messler
Sep 09, 2012 Hannah Messler rated it really liked it
I thought this book was just so lovely. The illustrations are amoeba-y--grave and slender--elegant creepy jellicle elegies for the Curies. I like the text, too--the font is sick and the syntax is precise and gentle, like little wooden pieces that fit together with barely audible clicks.

Linda Robinson
Dec 31, 2011 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing
As a total art design project, the book is stellar. Using cyanotype prints is brilliant, the bluish glow irresistible; mesmerizing the enthralled reader like a 50s illusionist until one wonders if a CT Scan needs scheduling. Redniss designed the type (Eusapia LR, named for Eusapia Palladino, a spiritualist, whose seances the Curies attended), and it fits the radioactive subject matter. Reverse white type on a dark background is hard to read; and the orange pages are close to impossible, but perh ...more
Elizabeth A
Dec 28, 2015 Elizabeth A rated it liked it
Shelves: graphix, art, 2015, non-fiction
This book is an illustrated biography of Pierre and Marie Curie, and be forewarned that the cover art glows in , the dark. It took me several moments to realize that I was not experiencing a paranormal event one dark night.

I have mixed feelings about this book. Marie Currie is someone I have been fascinated with since I was a kid, and it was fun to read about her again, and learn quite a few new interesting nuggets in the process. The art in this book is wonderfully evocative - ghostly and lumin
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Carl
Nov 07, 2011 Carl rated it really liked it
I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked this book up from the library. I just knew it was recommended highly by others, and as a scientist I was interested in the topic of the Curie's and radioactivity.

My first clue that I was in for something quite different was the size of the book–it was 8.5 x 11. When I opened it I was even more surprised. There were no white pages with black print text, except for an occasional one which was very different from the traditional ones. Instead ther
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K
This was my first graphic novel (well, not really a novel -- graphic work of non-fiction? too long), and I think the medium may just not be for me. If I had to describe this book in one word, that word would be "distracting."

I was distracted by everything, particularly the pictures and the artistic but annoying-to-read font. The narrative itself was distracting, jumping around in time and space even though it all connected back to radioactivity. A more tolerant reader might have appreciated the
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Janet
Sep 07, 2015 Janet rated it it was amazing
Gorgeous, improbably wonderful graphic novel about the love affair and scientific work of Pierre and Marie Curie. I saw it first in an exhibition in the New York Public Library, and fell in love with it. The volatility of the elements they were working with… the danger and the excitement… the illustrations are amazing. I still remember those shocking first minutes of seeing what Redniss had undertaken, breathtaking and enchanting.
Neko
This is a unique and compelling book.

What I like most about it is how Redniss intertwines not only the scientific and personal lives of Marie and Pierre Curie, but also the lives of many individuals who were influenced by the Curie's discoveries (directly or indirectly). While the overarching Curie story is told chronologically, the other stories are woven in at purposeful times and this makes the connections even more impactful and insightful. For instance, after Marie was contemplating the st
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Jasmine
Jan 12, 2011 Jasmine rated it liked it
Shelves: n-a
okay this is my last review before I go on vacation. [yay!!!] and since I have no intention of talking to any of you while I'm on vacation [nothing personal I'm just not bringing my computer or talking to anyone who isn't my best friend] I better make it good.

This book is perfectly fine. I is not worth the run on it that occurred, but I get why it didn't end up on back order like so many of the others and we got it in again pretty quick. it's nothing to write home about.

BUT do not for a second
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Kurt
Jan 23, 2013 Kurt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, biography, art
Here's the short form. Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout is a biography of Marie Curie. That is roughly accurate and thoroughly uninteresting. In addition to being beautiful and beautifully told, this book is the story of Marie Curie, of her discoveries of radium and polonium, and of the legacies of them all.

Redniss begins her first chapter, Symmetry, cleverly and counter-intutively. On the left hand page is information about Pierre Curie, whom, we can pretty safely
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Lara
My husband gave this to me as an early Valentine's Day gift because he heard about it on NPR and knows me really well--I mean, how could I resist an art book that combines history, science and a love story? That GLOWS IN THE DARK? So yeah, it was an excellent gift.

This is basically the story of Marie and Pierre Curie--their marriage and their work, and the things that came out of both aspects of their relationship. The narrative moves back and forth through history from the late 1800s/early 190
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Leah
Feb 06, 2016 Leah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: brain-picker
What an extraordinary book, intended in the full sense of the word extra-ordinary. This is not your typical biography of famous scientists, or the story to two star-struck lovers. While I expected to learn more about the work of the Curies, the author brought me to Hiroshima, Chernobyl, Three-Mile Island and far beyond. These were both unexpected diversions, unexplained and curious. I'm still not sure what to make of the information presented, but it is unlike anything I ever read. And then ther ...more
Dash M
Aug 22, 2015 Dash M rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and sad. Both a biography and historic/scientific text, with countless unexpected details. The artwork is astonishing.
Katie
Mar 19, 2016 Katie rated it really liked it
In Radioactive, Lauren Redniss depicts the lives and work of Marie and Pierre Curie through a combination of text and illustrations. Interspersed within this narrative are related stories about the lasting effects their work, mostly that which concerned radioactivity. These include accounts of major events like the Hiroshima bombing, Three Mile Island, and Chernobyl. It also includes other stories about those who go to radon mines for the supposed health benefits, factory workers in the 1920s wh ...more
Beth
Aug 22, 2015 Beth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book2art-club
A truly luminous graphic biography of Marie Curie, Pierre Curie, and their work. The graphics immersed you into this book, as well as the clever way Redniss interspersed the linear timeline of Marie Curie's life with seemingly random (but highly relevant) vignettes regarding radiation, accidents, and science.

There was just enough details to give me an understanding of Curie's work without devolving into a scientific treatise. I was left wanting to know more and wondering why Hollywood has compl
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Casey
Mar 28, 2015 Casey rated it it was amazing
I loved the holistic presentation of history that this book provided. Not only was this book about Marie and Pierre Curie, their discoveries, and their relationship; it was also about the consequences of their discoveries. Anecdotes can be found throughout the book concerning radioactivity and its effect ever since its discovery. Hiroshima is brought up, and a Japanese individual's personal experience with the bombing of Hiroshima is included. I wish more books of this sort were used in school, ...more
kasia
Feb 14, 2016 kasia rated it really liked it
The artwork is so, so gorgeous, and a really wonderful blend of styles. But the narrative is a little bit all over the place, making the ultimate effect seem more like a notebook of stuff related to radioactivity than a love story about Maria Skłodowska and Pierre Curie. There is a sudden, jolting aside about Oppenheimer that seems to set the stage for a series of tangents. I appreciate the inclusion of maps of Chernobyl and Hiroshima, but the way it's done makes it seem like an interruption rat ...more
Jason
Nov 04, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jason by: Jason stats
Shelves: book-club
"Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie a tale of love and fallout" was the biography of Marie and Pierre Curie's life. It mostly focussed on Marie's life both in lab discovering radioactivity and all things related in addition to personal life and how the two intertwined, sometimes to her benefit and other times not so much. This book is amazing in a number of ways and although I gave it 4 stars, it's really more like 4.5. Pierre and Marie were incredibly smart and made a number of discoveries af ...more
Althea J.
Nov 10, 2015 Althea J. rated it really liked it
I think Hannah captures the feel of this book beautifully in her review, you should check it out.

I enjoyed this book viscerally, but it also spoke to a particular interest of mine --- I get super jazzed when I come across a work that would make an EXCELLENT teaching tool. Specifically, I'm currently fascinated by how graphic novels can be used in the classroom to spark students' interest and heighten their learning experience. Now, before you run screaming from this book because I mentioned its
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Samantha (Where's My Bookmark?)
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Book received in exchange for an honest review

Radioactive depicts the personal and scholarly life of Marie Curie and the people she grows to love and the people she comes across. In a unique and vivid format, Lauren Redniss illustrates and shares the ups and downs of Curie’s life from her arrival in Paris, her scientific discoveries, and her public life.

Radioactive is such a fun alternative to a regular ol’ biography. It’s filled with vivid art and easy
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Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
When I was in second grade, I was bored and my teacher did what all good teachers do when they have students who are bored in class: she assigned me a research project.

My research project was on Marie and Pierre Curie.

Here I was, seven years old, reading about radiation and atomic particles and nuclear energy. I was fascinated, even if I didn’t quite get everything I read.

The minute I saw this book, I knew it was a book that I had to read. If nothing else, I wanted to see if I understood radiati
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Amanda
Aug 03, 2011 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, biography
This was a strange and intriguing book. I'm not sure if I've read anything like it...the closest I can compare it to would be the Griffin & Sabine books. Radioactive is a dual history of Pierre and Marie Curie's discoveries in radioactivity and the impact those discoveries have made on history, coupled with the personal stories of several characters, with a focus on Marie Curie. I don't think I've thought once about the Curies since I graduated high school (science is not my forte), but I'm ...more
Karyn
Apr 12, 2012 Karyn marked it as to-read
Read Maria Popova's review on the Brain Picking website and immediately ordered my own copy. (Uh oh- think my "to-read" list is getting a little out of hand!)

What the periodic table has to do with obscure photographic techniques and Italian erotic séances.

"To stay true to Curie’s spirit and legacy, Redniss rendered her poetic artwork in an early-20th-century image printing process called cyanotype, critical to the discovery of both X-rays and radioactivity itself — a cameraless photographic tech
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Lindsay Miller
(Reviewer Background: Recently made work using cyanotype process. Recently wrote paper about atomic bomb testing. Rarely reads history or biography. Picked book up on a whim. Possibly compensating for tendencies in self and others to rate high.)

"It was okay" sounds about right.

I respect the author's experimental approach to the non-fiction book format, but some aspects work better than others.

The integration of art adds certain feels, but unevenness of production is a bit distracting for me. Th
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phaedosia
It's a biography of the Curies but also a work of art. The illustrations tell their own narrative as beautifully as the text. It truly made me care about the Curies and their era in a way that I wouldn't have normally. In addition to the gorgeous pictures, the author includes stories you probably would never had heard anywhere else. For example, she tells about all the young women in New Jersey who were hired to paint watch dials with the "undark" paint that was made from radium, who subsequentl ...more
Louise
Besides researching and writing this book, the author designed its type and created its art work. She used paper coated with light sensitive materials, imaging which was critical to the discovery of X-Rays and radiology. Lauren Redniss well deserves the National Book Award nomination for her writing and for her bibliographic art.

The book has the feel of its content. The use of color illustration and positioning of type on the page evoke the images of radiation both good and the bad. The story is
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Mark
May 02, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic
I had heard the name Marie Curie, but I did not know much about this pioneering scientist. Wow, what an eye-opener. She was born in Poland in 1867 and moved to Paris in 1891, to study science at the University of Paris. A couple years later, she meets Pierre Curie, an instructor at the School of Physics and Chemistry. They soon marry and begin blazing a path, that will bring both wonder to the world and incredible destruction.
This all will launch, with their discovery of polonium and radium, whi
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Lauren Redniss is the author of Century Girl: 100 years in the Life of Doris Eaton Travis, Last Living Star of the Ziegfeld Follies and Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout, a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award for non fiction. Her writing and drawing has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, which nominated her work for the Pulitzer Pr ...more
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“In the wake of a human being's death, what survives is a set of afterglows, some brighter and some dimmer, in the collective brains of those who were dearest to them...Though the primary brain has been eclipsed, there is, in those who remain...a collective corona that still glows. - Douglas Hofstadter” 3 likes
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