On a personal level, it is one of the most conflicted reviews I am posting. Let me first elaborate the positive aspects of my reading experience.
1. The book flows, and it flows well, and all the parts in it are in the right places, and nothing is excessive in the book, and chapters do not drag.
2. The book is bringing awareness to antibiotic resistant bacteria strains, and it serves its educational purpose.
3. The writing per se ( sentences, paragraphs, transitions – aka the building blocks of composition) was good,too. It was not spectacular, and it is hard to achieve deep emotional engagement with non-fiction, but it was very decent and relatable.
4. it was based on personal experience, and it always takes some guts to publish a book with the personal involvement, including some very intimate moments about bodily functions.
Now, my peeves, and many of them are subjective peeves driven by my Russian judgmental nature and my personal freelancing experience as an interpreter/translator working in the field of public health, HIV, ID, and epidemiology. It is also important to keep in mind that my degree is in ESL, linguistics, and world lit.
1. I was only exposed to this field as an interpreter, but some of moments of ignorance shocked me. Again, it is all my vitriolic Russian nature is rearing its ugly head. In Russia, once can not be an epidemiologist without taking extensive courses of infectious diseases, and vice versa, one can not be an infectious disease specialist and being totally clueless about public health and ways diseases spread. One can say that global public health is mostly WHO protocols, predictions and formulas, and it is true, but these formulas without any knowledge how diseases spread and their etiology are useless, so I simply found this lack of knowledge unbelievable.
2. Again, due to my Russian background, I heard about phages and their usages in microbiology and public health. One might attribute my knowledge to the factors Ms. Strathdee mentioned in her book, but I did hear about the biophage methods in ….. high school. High school!!!! Not college – high school! I can say many negative things about the Soviets, but formal and natural sciences were strictly science driven, rigorous, and demanding parts of curriculum.
3. Because the book is based on true events, I also think I have the right to touch upon memoir-like parts of the book. The author was absolutely right to describe the abject medical conditions in Egypt, but in my personal experience, I did visit some rural health departments in the USA, and they are as shoddy and poorly equipped as the one in Luxor. Oh, did I hear a little bit of judgment from the author? I did, and I would be opinionated, too, but it is nice to remember that one can find similarly equipped medical offices in the USA.
4. Please, do not let me start on religion and prayers that were malapropos. First, if it is a divine providence for her husband to be saved, why would phage biotechnology be used only by the Soviets, the self-proclaimed atheists of the past? Secondly, the role of prayers is highly hyperbolic. I do understand that faith is a crutch that one needs and it is an evolutionary mechanism to cope with enormous pressure, but why wouldn’t a scientist put common sense first? This is way beyond my comprehension. On the other hand, I might succumb to the same need of succor and support at the time of trial. Who knows?
5. I am sure I will get a lot of hate comments here, but this book had this weird California aftertaste – one that combines science, gaps in required knowledge, prayers, New Age life coaches, etc.
If I based my review on my peeves, I would possibly give it two stars, but because it might educate public that needs this knowledge, the book gets a three-star review.