Although I found the "What if..." premise of the book very interesting, the plot felt contrived. I was particularly disappointed by what I felt to be highly unrealistic mirroring of plot elements (from events to minor dialogue) in the two stories. I slogged through the second half of the book, hoping it would at least end with some thought-provoking ambiguity. Instead, the intended morals were essentially written out, and the ending felt depressing and fatalistic.
I absolutely loved this book. It is well written, engaging, and extremely informative on a broad spectrum of factors relating to cancer and human society’s struggle with it, from the point at which it appears in the historical record up until today.
In addition to presenting a fascinating medical history, this book really showcases the interplay between research, clinical practice, corporate and political interests, activism, and patients themselves. It also delves into the lives and careers of many pivotal figures in the endeavour. Importantly, the author does not shy away from covering the unfortunate turns as well as the breakthroughs, thereby exposing the ethical issues that inevitably arise when imperfect humans confront matters of life and death with incomplete knowledge. Perhaps the most sure sign of the book’s success: I again found myself wondering why I am not pursuing a career in medical science.
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