BookBrowse Reviews Immune by Catherine Carver

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How Your Body Defends and Protects You

by Catherine Carver

Immune by Catherine Carver X
Immune by Catherine Carver
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  • Published:
    Nov 2017, 304 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Natalie Vaynberg
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About this Book



Drawing on everything from ancient Egyptian medical texts to cutting-edge medical science, Immune takes readers on an adventure packed with weird and wonderful facts about their own defense mechanisms.

Even if you are a science "nerd," scientific non-fiction can be difficult to embrace. Not many scientists have the gift of translating their incredibly vast knowledge into something that an average reader, without the benefit of a PhD, can understand. Catherine Carver is in the elite minority who can. Immune: How Your Body Defends and Protects You is an absolute gem. Working through all the different building blocks of the human immune system, Carver creates a rich tapestry of stories that illustrate successes, failures, limits and everything in between.

Perhaps the most impressive feat accomplished by Immune is its extreme readability. There is a fluidity and rhythm to the book that keeps you reading and wanting to know more. Much of this quality can be attributed to each chapter's real-life anecdotes; the book is not just an array of scientific terms and their definitions, but also their very real applications to our own life. And while many of them sound quite fantastical and read almost like science-fiction, they are entirely true. They are so compelling, in fact, you may find yourself wanting to know more about a particular person's ordeal or a newly-posited theory – what better measure of engagement than the desire to do "homework" after finishing a chapter?

Not only has she done fantastic research, but Carver has an excellent sense of timing and organization. Each chapter builds on its predecessor, following a natural progression that ensures full understanding of the topic at hand. The end of a chapter smoothly leads into the beginning of the next, in a way that is almost uncanny. Carver's pitch is also perfect. She is entirely relatable, interspersing sentences with personal asides and hilarious footnotes; all this, without ever diluting the content or breaking the momentum that she has built. The entire book feels like a conversation with a highly intelligent, highly engaging friend who has decided to give you the highlights of her job – quirky co-workers and office drama included.

If you have an interest in science, want to know more about the intricacies of the human body, or simply enjoy having a ready arsenal of fascinating tales to share at a dinner party, Immune is a safe bet. Do not be surprised if you find yourself subscribing to more science magazines or looking for similar reads in the future. Easy to read, quickly absorbing and chock full of humor, Carver's book is a great addition to any bookshelf.

Reviewed by Natalie Vaynberg

This review first ran in the January 24, 2018 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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