Lindsay Miller's Reviews > Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout

Radioactive by Lauren Redniss
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Sep 01, 12

bookshelves: science, non-fiction, history, art, biography, chemistry
Read in August, 2012

(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. The typeface Redniss designed for the book works for the shorter lines coupled with visuals, but they become unreadable walls of text beyond that. Rhythm changes are incorporated, with varying success.

Interdependent professional and personal life is a major theme of the content, mirrored in its form. Chapter heads have double meanings, focus flips back and forth strategically, quotes foreshadow... but the content soon becomes scattered. Transitions deteriorate. The author brings in many interesting stories from after the Curies' time, but doesn't seem to know quite how to integrate them. After, jumping back in time is a struggle. Her effort to remove herself from the content, to remain "objective" outside structural choices, editing, and the surprise note section, sometimes takes away from the heart of the book, and its integrative approach.

Overall, lots of interesting things going on. The author has good intentions, and makes many clever decisions, so my objects of ridicule may be intentional conceptual choices. Regardless, execution needs tweaking.

I hope Redniss keeps making things.
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