Saturday, August 16

Double Helix - Nancy Werlin

Eli's always known his father had a problem with famed geneticist Quincy Wallace, though he's never known why. He and his father are more distant now than ever, and they never talk about his mother. In fact, his girlfriend of over a year doesn't know about his mother, and has never met his father. For Eli, who knows she'll leave as soon as she finds out he's at risk of the Huntington's that's left his one beautiful and brilliant mother in a nursing home, Viv is something pure and perfect in his life. That is until he gets a part-time research position in Dr Wallace's lab over the summer. It's an amazing opportunity for an unqualified teenager, even if it only involves caring for the rabbits at the heart of a cluster of experiments. But when Eli stumbles on to something darker in the lab, he's forced to question everything in his life.
This compelling YA novel raises some interesting questions about medical ethics and genetic experimentation, and about teenage relationships - with other teens and with adults, particularly their parents. Werlin's gift is combining this sombre subject matter with a stimulating plot. Eli is a complete and flawed character, fully realised, as are the secondary characters. Double Helix doesn't break any new ground, and I was reminded a little of other novels on the topic, but it was refreshing, absorbing, and well worth the time - Alex

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