Title: BECOMING ANIMALS
Authors: OLGA & CHRISTOPHER WERBY
Genre: YOUNG ADULT FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION, SPECULATIVE FICTION
Length: 417 PAGES
Type of Book: SOFTCOVER
Received From: THE AUTHOR
Release Date: DECEMBER 27, 2017
Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Humans have always wanted to know what goes on inside the minds of other animals. But what if humans could become animals? Toby’s father leads a team of neuroscientists directly connecting the brains of humans with those of animals. And Toby is a prodigy at throwing her mind into the animal subjects in his lab – she’s the best there is.
But Toby suffers from cystic fibrosis and she’s not likely to live into adulthood. Could a radical plan to embed her consciousness into an animal allow Toby to survive? And what does it mean to live without a human body?
Can Toby and her father solve the problem of fully merging two beings before she takes her last breath? Will the government succeed in stopping their efforts before they are done? It’s a race against death and into the minds of animals.
Technology is advancing so quickly that books once considered science fiction are now reality.
This book contains scientific ideas that are probably, even now, being worked on in labs across North America. No matter how interesting the idea of being able to connect human brains with animal brains, that idea alone is not enough to keep a reader interested or invested in a book.
This is where Toby and her father come in. Toby’s father is a brilliant neuroscientist. It is due to his vision and incredible work ethic that brings about the first way to connect animal and human brains.
Toby is young at the beginning of this book (only 10 years old) but it is her that gets to try her father’s invention first. Using her pet rat, Rufus, Toby connects their minds and is instantly enamoured with the process. Imagine being able to see through the eyes of another creature, to taste what they taste and even to feel their emotions as if they were still your own; what a life-altering experience it would be.
This is exactly what Toby experiences and for her it feels like freedom. Toby has Cystic Fibrosis and isn’t able to do everything her peers can do. Her mother also has the disease, and Toby watches her mother fight for every single breath of air – until the end when her body finally gives out on her. Toby knows that because of her Cystic Fibrosis, she will probably not live to see adulthood.
CF causes various effects on the body, but mainly affects the digestive system and lungs. The degree of CF severity differs from person to person, however, the persistence and ongoing infection in the lungs, with destruction of lungs and loss of lung function, will eventually lead to death in the majority of people with CF.
As the novel progresses and Toby gets older and more frail, she comes up with an idea. She wants her father to figure out a way to download Toby’s brain into the brain of a whale.
But, ideas are easy to come up with. It is translating that idea into reality that is difficult – maybe even impossible.
Both Toby and her father know they are racing against the clock. Will he figure out how to transfer Toby’s consciousness into that of a whale? Should he do it if he figures out how? What are the ethical implications?
I love it when I not only enjoy the plot of a story, but also when I learn something from reading a book. I realize that BECOMING ANIMALS is Science-Fiction, but so were cell phones at one point.
Another reason I am rating this book highly is that it informs readers about cystic fibrosis which is not often the case with popular fiction. Raising awareness of any disease is terrific and although reading about Toby’s mother’s death as well as Toby’s daily struggle just to breathe is eye-opening. Most people have heard of Cystic Fibrosis, but do not have any idea of what it means to be diagnosed with it, or worse, to have your child be diagnosed.
I encourage all of the people who follow my reviews to purchase this book and to see for themselves what I am talking about.
I should also mention that even though this book is targeted at adults, the author has included many photographs into this book which assist the reader in visualizing what is happening in the story.
I rate BECOMING ANIMALS as 4 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Christopher Werby, J.D., has had a varied career as a lawyer, businessman, technologist, filmmaker, journalist, and new media creator. He has been active with computers since 1975, and taught computer programming at Sarah Lawrence College. He is a commercial photographer and videographer who has contributed to a number of projects. He received a B.A. degree in Physics from Sarah Lawrence College and a Juris Doctor degree from U.C. Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. He is admitted to practice in the State of California and is an active member of the California State Bar (member 124299). Christopher serves on the board of directors of Grosvenor Properties, Ltd., a real estate investment company. Since 1994, when he formed Pipsqueak, he has been focused on web work, technology, programming, and creating digital assets.
Olga Werby, Ed.D., has a Doctorate from U.C. Berkeley with a focus on designing online learning experiences. She received a Master’s degree in Education of Math, Science, and Technology from U.C. Berkeley and a B.A. degree in Mathematics and Astrophysics from Columbia University. She has been creating computer-based projects since 1981 with organizations such as NASA (where she worked on the Pioneer Venus project), Addison-Wesley, and the Princeton Review. She conceived, designed, and illustrated the award-winning “Field Trips” series of programs distributed by Sunburst Communications. Olga currently teaches interaction design and cognitive theory at the American University in Paris and the University of California at Berkeley Extension Program. She was part of the faculty of San Francisco State University’s Multimedia Studies Program, the Bay Area Video Coalition, and the campus of Apple Computers. Olga is a member of the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education. She also holds a California teaching credential and is part of the San Francisco Unified School District where she often tests science-related curriculum materials in public elementary and middle schools.
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