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

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  5,091 ratings  ·  706 reviews
Radioactive is the visual journey into the life of Marie Curie, as told through the dazzling collage style of acclaimed author and artist Lauren Redniss. A brilliant visual storyteller, Redniss has hand-designed more than 100 color collages to tell Curie’s story, fascinating in its scientific significance and its sometimes whimsical, sometimes haunting mix of romance and i ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published December 21st 2010 by It Books (first published November 1st 2010)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  5,091 ratings  ·  706 reviews

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Dec 21, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: xmas2010, biography
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
Roger Brunyate
Way Outside the Box

So I order this to read for our book club, thinking it would be just a normal account of the Curies' discovery of radioactivity. The book arrives. Surely there must be some mistake; this looks like something for children—pages filled with big colored illustrations mingled with occasional paragraphs of handwritten text. But no, while often childlike, the book is never childish. And the mixture of media gives only a hint of how widely author-artist Lauren Redniss has foraged to
Elizabeth A
Mar 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, graphix, non-fiction, art
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 luminou
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
Hannah Garden
Sep 07, 2012 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.

Mar 04, 2011 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). ...more
Barbara McEwen
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars- All right graphic novel fans, art lovers, and science nerds, this is for you. This one is a work of art. You get to learn tidbits of science, some juicy gossip, and it is packaged beautifully. It is not, by any stretch, exhaustive for those of you wanting a full biography. My only qualm, if I want to be picky, is you do jump around in time between Pierre and Marie Curie's lifetime and the creation of the atomic bomb and other subsequent uses of their findings. I think it is an artisti ...more
I thought this was okay. The art wasn't particularly impressive to me and the narrative was disjointed. It would talk about periods of Marie Curie's life chronologically but then it would suddenly jump ahead in time and switch topics periodically. It did contain some interesting information but I would recommend watching a documentary or read a biography about Marie Curie over this. ...more
"My head is so full of plans that it seems aflame..."

From RADIOACTIVE: Marie and Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout, by Lauren Redniss, 2011.

A unique and original work that combines stunning artwork, original documentation and archival material, the biography of Marie and Pierre Curie, and the antecedents and ramifications of their discoveries of polonium and radium...

Interspersed within the history and love story of the Curies, Redniss cuts to a later events - Manhattan P
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
Linda Robinson
Dec 21, 2011 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
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A graphic novel on the life of Marie and Pierre Curie. This book is done in mixed media format containing drawings, paintings, photographs, and cyanotype print. This is probably the most interestingly done graphic novel I have ever read. The story of the two scientists is also fascinating. I highly recommend this book.

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
Oct 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Redniss this year got a MacArthur "genius" grant for her work, and so I decided to check out her graphic history of Marie and Pierre Curie, which she illustrated and hand lettered, and in which she used a printing technique that allows some of the pages to glow in the dark, appropriately enough.

By and large, I thought this was terrific, except for one small quibble. She interrupted the chronological story of the Curies with somewhat random leaps forward into the present day to explain everything
Oct 12, 2011 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
Sep 07, 2015 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.
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

With apologies to Marie Curie, who said, “There is no connection between my scientific work and the facts of private life.”
Part biography part historical account, Radioactive looks at Marie Curie’s scientific accomplishments, her personal life, and her everlasting effect on our world. Lauren Redniss’ thoughtful technique provides the reader with a unique visual experience.

What Dazzled: I can say I haven’t encountered anything quite like this
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a genre bending work - part biography, part science writing, part history, all coupled with beautiful collage/watercolor art. Radioactive focuses on the life and love of Pierre and Marie Curie, as well as the life she had after his death. She was a brilliant scientist with a lack of concern for convention. The story alternates between the story of her life and a scientific exploration of the impact of her discovery -- cancer treatments, Hiroshima, Chernobyl, and more. I learned a lot abo ...more
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, history, 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
Garrett Zecker
Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Redniss' portrait of Marie and Pierre Curie was a completely surprising discovery. I was at the checkout at my local library when I saw it on the new arrivals shelf. While the librarian was completing some task for me, the cover jumped out, and I threw it on the stack after reading the quick blurb on the back.

What I got was a brilliant – and I mean brilliant – surprise. Evidently, I knew little about the story of the Curies, so to begin, the actual story of their discovery, successes, failures,
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
Jan 12, 2011 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
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
Jun 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, nearly hauntingly so. Absorbing love story fleshed out by ample use of actual letters between Marie Curie and her lovers. Wonderfully punctuated by historical accounts of the discovery, characterization, and implementation of radioactivity in the modern world.
Shaeley Santiago
Great illustrations make this book memorable. It is the story of the Curies and their scientific research.
Dasha M
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and sad. Both a biography and historic/scientific text, with countless unexpected details. The artwork is astonishing.
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
readathon17 book 32: a book where the main character is a scientist

I think I may be cheating because it is a biography of a scientist, Marie Curie (mainly) and also Pierre Curie. I found it very good. It is full of drawings and the text is embedded in the drawings. Apart from the biographic elements, there are also parts that describe the outcomes of the Curies' research, such as the story of a Hiroshima survivor, description of the Chernobyl explosion, nuclear tests in Nevada dessert etc.
I lear
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 This was a good graphic novel. The pictures were a bit distracting and off at times but the information and story were good. The information about Marie Curie and her husband Pierre was really enlightening. It goes through the whole of Marie's life. It discusses the discoveries and science behind the discoveries.
I almost forgot one thing that was distracting was the off shoot stories. There were a few of these which weren't directly a part of the story. They were about Radium or the atomic
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mary by: Raully
This book is a work of art. The cover glows in the dark (radiation!) and the represenations inside are dramatic. The title is accurate. It is a story of love--both for Marie and Pierre together, but also for them with other partners, and for their children. It is a story of fallout because working with radiation had terrible effects on their health. In a larger sense, the fallout was healing for radiation therapy and x-ray diagnoses, but destructive in other terrible ways with nuclear weapons.

Jessica Rosner
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing true story, gorgeous artwork.
I knew too little about Marie Curie. Not only a genius, but a flesh and blood heroine and moral compass (though her lover’s wife might disagree).
She devoted herself and devoured herself in her quest to learn about and use the powers of radium.
This brilliant book also reveals how in our relatively short history the United States made shameful choices (atomic testing in populated areas, questioning by the despicable HUAC of some of the best and brightest, inst
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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 Prize. ...more

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