2020 Reading Challenge

2020 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 6 books toward her goal of 240 books.

Book Review: The Prize by Geoffrey M. Cooper

I was very intrigued by this title. I have worked in pharmaceutical/biomedical research, and particularly on Alzheimer’s disease. I am aware of the cutthroat nature of tenure battles and the “publish or perish” mentality, and of the way careers can be won or lost through chance encounters with scientific discovery – which itself is quite often a matter of chance or luck. I expected a lot of tension and drama. Those elements were present, but they were wrapped in language that gave the whole thing the feel of a movie-of-the-week rather than a thriller…

The basic premise is an interesting one and captured nicely by the book’s tagline: “What does it take to win a Nobel Prize?” The competitive natures came through clearly in the story, and the characterization of the incentives – and potentials for career-shattering devastation – were spot-on with my own experiences in this world of brilliant minds and shifting ethical sands. But the characters themselves felt stereotyped and the plot felt a little formulaic as it played out.

The decision to make it clear from the outset who the bad guy(s) was/were was a brave one, but I must admit that I agree with some of the other reviewers that it left the tension levels flatter than when things are mysterious up to the bitter end. In real life there aren’t really that many mustache-twirling baddies; in my experience in the scientific research community the evil is subtler, more nuanced, and usually far less clear-cut, and I think that a more subtle, nuanced, less clear-cut explication of the motives and actions behind the fraud plot would have made this a much more taut and emotional thriller instead of an episode of a television series…

My review copy was provided by the Independent Book Publisher’s Association.

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