Tuesday, July 20, 2021

STEM Tuesday- The Curie Society

Harvey, Janet, Einhorn, Heather and Liao, Sonia (illustrations).
The Curie Society
April 27th 2021 by MIT Press
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

Three roommates at Edmonds University all face different challenges in settling into college life. Biologist Simone is very young to be away from home, and feels that people don't take her area of scientific interest as seriously. Math oriented Maya is used to the support that boarding schools offer, and is pushed very hard by her ambitious parents. Tech and gaming fan Taj has a side gig providing tech for concerts, and finds her roommates to be annoying. When all three are approached by the secretive Curie Society to be members, they are surprised. The leaders of the group on their campus are Dr. Burkhart, who was in the military and sustained injuries that led to her using a prosthetic arm, Dr. Warsame, the head of the engineering school, and Emma, their orientation guide. While the three don't do well at their initial initiation, failing to work well under pressure, they are soon sent on a super secret field trip to study animals and their adaptive qualities, and find themselves enmeshed in a global conspiracy by evil scientists to run the world. Will the three be able to get along, and use their skills to take down the bad guys?

This read very much like a comic book, with capital lettering that emphasizes a wide variety of words in bold print, and with lots of action and adventure, although not as many written sound effects as something like Batman! The illustrations include a lot of dark colors, which makes sense since a fair amount of scenes are either at night or in underground or enclosed spaces. The print is very small, and rather dense, which combined with some of the themes makes this perfect for older readers. 

There's plenty of science and technology in this; pyrotechnics, drones, surveillance equipment, animal regeneration, artificial intelligence, and much, much more. The tie in with Marie Curie is good to see, and the book ends with a quantity of thumbnail biographies of real women scientists. 

In addition to the science, there is plenty of drama; Simone struggles with being away from home and with people treating her like a child, Maya is unhappy with her career trajectory and is wooed by the rogue scientists, and Taj has a scene in which a fraternity party ends with predatory behavior exhibited by the male students... whom she quickly subdues with some quality ninja moves. Dr. Burkhart's flashbacks also provided some examples of bravery and drama in her own background. 

There aren't a whole lot of science fiction graphic novels, especially for older middle grade and high school readers, but this is a great addition to books like Sanity and Tallulah, Pepper Page Saves the Universe, Cosmoknights, and Space Battle Lunchtime.

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