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Double Helix

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Overview

Eighteen-year-old Eli discovers a shocking secret about his life and his family while working for a Nobel Prize-winning scientist whose specialty is genetic engineering.

Eighteen-year-old Eli discovers a shocking secret about his life and his family while working for a Nobel Prize-winning scientist whose specialty is genetic engineering.

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Double Helix

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Overview

Eighteen-year-old Eli discovers a shocking secret about his life and his family while working for a Nobel Prize-winning scientist whose specialty is genetic engineering.

Eighteen-year-old Eli discovers a shocking secret about his life and his family while working for a Nobel Prize-winning scientist whose specialty is genetic engineering.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
Werlin is a mistress of intelligent, imaginative mystery writing for the YA crowd, and Double Helix is as good as anything she's done. — Elizabeth Ward
Publishers Weekly
In this mesmerizing novel, Werlin (The Killer's Cousin) adapts the medical mystery genre to explore the bewildering, complex issues surrounding experimental gene therapy. Narrator Eli Samuels, about to graduate from high school, has fired off an e-mail to Quincy Wyatt, a world-famous scientist and head of a genetics research corporation-stunningly, Wyatt summons Eli and offers him a job. Eli is thrilled, but the news horrifies his father, who, without explanation, asks Eli to turn it down (Eli takes it anyway). Eli's father's silence on the subject of Wyatt has many precedents within Eli's home. Eli's mother is rapidly deteriorating from Huntington's disease, a hereditary illness. Eli has not told his girlfriend, Viv, about his mother nor even introduced Viv to his father. Eli has talents he hides, but somehow Wyatt knows of them and even takes pride in them. Meanwhile Eli knows that his father conceals other information-and that Wyatt has somehow been pivotal to his family. The characterizations feel somewhat incomplete, but the plot moves at a tantalizing clip, with secrets revealed in tiny increments, and hints and clues neatly planted. Werlin distills the scientific element to a manageable level, enough for readers to follow Eli as he ponders Wyatt's work and his mother's illness. As the author tackles bioethical issues, the story's climax appeals to reason and love for humanity without resorting to easy answers. Brisk, intelligent and suspenseful all the way. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Can scientists succeed in selectively altering human DNA? If so, are such procedures ethical? Who gets to decide what is ethical? Edgar Award winner Nancy Werlin addresses these weighty questions in a compelling novel about Eli, a young man whose mother is dying from a debilitating genetic disease, leaving him to wonder whether he has inherited the DNA sequence that marks the disease. When the unqualified Eli is offered a job in the transgenetic lab of a famous molecular biologist, he begins to sense a mysterious connection between this doctor and his own family. Where does a cleverly concealed lab elevator lead? Who is the beautiful girl who looks so much like his mother when young? Eli's quest for answers leads him to some unsettling information about himself, his mother, and the doctor's secret experiments in the basement of the lab. While pursuing the truth about his past, the troubled young man must also confront his feelings for his faithful girlfriend and try to build a relationship with his secretive father. As the suspense builds, a chilling climax solves the mystery on one level, but leaves vital ethical questions unanswered. A more mature Eli urges his bioethics professor at MIT to include the general public in discussions about the ethics of genetic engineering, too important to be left to scientists alone. Young adult readers of Double Helix may well be inspired to join the dialogue between concerned citizens and the scientific community about issues raised by this timely mystery. 2004, Dial, Ages 12 up.
— Barbara L. Talcroft
KLIATT
Eli, just graduating from high school, has been offered a job as a lab assistant at Wyatt Transgenics. It sounds like a great position, but his father doesn't want him to take it and won't explain why. Eli knows that something went on between his parents and Dr. Wyatt in the past, but his father won't talk about it and his mother is too ill with Huntington's disease to communicate at all. Eli decides to take the job in spite of his father, but he discovers that there is more to the place than he had first suspected: a whole secret underground level, in fact. Dr. Wyatt takes a special interest in Eli, and engages him in stimulating conversations about genetics and the existence of free will. He introduces Eli to a beautiful girl named Kayla—and then Eli discovers that Kayla is the spitting image of his mother as a teenager. Together, Eli and Kayla uncover the daring and frightening genetic engineering experiments in which Dr. Wyatt has been engaged, and learn more about their own unusual heritage. This story about bioethics will appeal to the intellectually curious reader. Werlin, author of the acclaimed YA mysteries The Killer's Cousin, Black Mirror, and other novels, keeps the suspense high, and she draws convincing portraits of a bright young man, his anguished father, the clever, amoral, Dr. Moreau-like Dr. Wyatt, and the other characters. Lots of food for thought here. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Penguin Putnam, Dial, 256p., Ages 15 to adult.
—Paula Rohrlick
VOYA
From the award-winning mystery writer, whose Killer's Cousin (Delacorte, 1998/VOYA October 1998) was named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, comes a mystery that revolves around a secretive molecular biology laboratory, its eccentric director, and a recent high school graduate. Seventeen-year-old Eli has always felt somewhat different from his peers; he is 6 feet 7 inches tall and still growing, excels to the point of perfection in sports, and intentionally made mistakes in school so that his girlfriend could become valedictorian. But all is not well. His mother is in a nursing home dying of a debilitating disease, one that Eli might have inherited. His reticent father broods and keeps secret what happened to Eli's mother years ago at Transgenic Labs. Eli's fear of the disease has almost destroyed his relationship with his girlfriend. He secures a summer job at the lab to do some investigating and soon encounters the overly friendly director and Kayla, an oddly familiar student who seems to be another perfect specimen. Together the two teens discover a hidden elevator that leads to an undocumented subbasement wherein lie many surprises. Was Eli genetically engineered? Why does Kayla look just like a young version of Eli's mother? The novel starts out a bit slowly, but the suspense builds quickly. The final revelations are surprising but disappointing—not particularly shocking and somewhat incomplete. The story is well told, however, and explores the ethical questions surrounding genetic engineering, an issue with which the next generation will undoubtedly wrestle. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High,defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Dial, 256p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Kevin Beach
From The Critics
Eighteen-year-old Eli has always been smarter, faster, and stronger than the average kid. He has never really questioned why until the mysterious and brilliant Dr. Wyatt begins to take a curious interest in him and offers him a job at his renowned lab, Wyatt Transgenics. When Eli's father pleads with him to decline the offer but refuses to explain why, Eli becomes more intrigued. His life gets turned upside down as he begins his search for answers and uncovers some disturbing secrets about his past. This suspenseful book is both mysterious and exciting. Nancy Werlin takes her readers on a wild ride with Eli as he struggles to gain an understanding of the secrets in his own past that may be his only hope in the future. This gripping novel explores some serious themes such as morality and the ethics of genetic engineering. It is also a story of the ties of love and loyalty that bond a father and son. 2004, Dial Books, 248 pp., Ages young adult.
—Sarah Briggs
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Eighteen-year-old Eli Samuels, whose once-vibrant mother is losing her long battle with the ravages of Huntington's disease, is hired at the Wyatt Transgenics Lab. Eli's father is dead set against the job because of a secret he harbors concerning the lab's owner, Dr. Quincy Wyatt, and Eli's mother. Shortly after starting work, the teen meets Kayla Matheson, a beautiful girl who eerily reminds him of a photo of his mother when she was young. Slowly, Eli uncovers one layer after another of the shocking truth about Dr. Wyatt's genetic-engineering experiments and their connection to his parents, Kayla, and himself. With the support of his longtime girlfriend and soul mate, he confronts Dr. Wyatt in a taut climax to the story. Werlin clearly and dramatically raises fundamental bioethical issues for teens to ponder. She also creates a riveting story with sharply etched characters and complex relationships that will stick with readers long after the book is closed. An essential purchase for YA collections.-Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Tragedy and family politics combine for a suspenseful exploration of love and bioethics. Brilliant Eli has been fighting with his father for months. The fight began when Eli refused to apply to college, but the communication breakdown is rooted in their unshared and inarticulate grief over Eli's mother. The genetic disease that will eventually kill her has left Eli's once-loving mother shamefully insane. Desperate to escape home for the summer, Eli takes a job with the brilliant Dr. Wyatt. He's lucky to get a chance to work with the famous geneticist, but his father is furious. Some terrible secret lies between Dr. Wyatt and Eli's parents, which must explain Dr. Wyatt's fascination with Eli, and Eli's father's hatred of Dr. Wyatt. There will be no easy answers for Eli as he explores the mystery of his own past, and of the compellingly beautiful girl to whom Dr. Wyatt introduces him. Thought-provoking, powerful, and rich in character. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142403273
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/5/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 178,154
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: HL690L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 6.99 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Werlin was born and raised in Peabody, Massachusetts, USA and now lives near Boston. She received her bachelor's degree in English from Yale.

Since then, she has worked as a technical writer and editor for several computer software and Internet companies, while also writing fiction. She is a National Book Award finalist.

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Read an Excerpt

It was almost impossible for me to sit still -- but I had to. I couldn't be pacing frantically back and forth across the rich gray carpet of Wyatt Transgenics's expansive reception area when Dr. Wyatt -- the Dr. Wyatt --

But he'd send an assistant to get me, wouldn't he? To escort me to his office? He wouldn't come himself.

My knuckles were tapping out a random jumpy rhythm on the arm of the chair. I clenched my fist to stop it. I shifted my legs.

The chair I sat in was small and hard and low to the ground. Obviously, whoever designed the corporate reception area had been focused not on the comfort of visitors, but on showcasing the enormous double-helix staircase that dominated the atrium with its depiction of DNA structure. And though anyone would find the chairs uncomfortable, they were particularly bad for me. My knees stuck up awkwardly, making the pant legs of my borrowed suit look even shorter than they were. There was nothing I could do about that -- my father was only six foot three. His jacket, also, was too tight across the shoulders on me.

I tugged at my tie. I suspected -- no, I knew I looked ridiculous. The suit didn't even make me look older. And I now thought it had been completely unnecessary. In the time I'd been sitting here, at least a dozen Wyatt Transgenics employees had moved purposefully across the mezzanine area at the top of the double-helix staircase, and they'd all been wearing casual clothes. Sneakers. Jeans. T-shirts under lab coats. The only people in suits were the two security guards.

I could hear Viv's voice in my ear. Philosophical. Well, who knew? We both thought you ought to wear a suit.

We had. Viv had at first tried to convince me to buy a suit in the right size from a store. She'd been appalled when I explained the cost of a man's suit, and, undeterred, had spent all yesterday afternoon dragging me through used clothing stores in Cambridgeport. Excuse me, but do you have any suits that would fit my boyfriend?

When she'd failed to find one, she'd burst into tears. Right in the middle of Central Square.

Viv. If she weren't in my life...well. I couldn't imagine how lonely I would be.

Guilt stirred in me, though. Viv thought this was a job interview of some kind. A summer internship. I hadn't lied to her. I never lied to Viv. I had just, as always, kept quiet and let her think whatever she chose.

Of course, I could have kept it a secret that I was coming. But I'd felt as if I would burst if I couldn't say something. And who was there but Viv to confide in, even a little? I wasn't going to tell my father.

Once more I caught myself fidgeting, looking at the clock. My appointment had been for twenty minutes ago. I'd checked in with the receptionist ten minutes early, so I'd been here half an hour. I tried to work up irritation at being kept waiting. Dr. Wyatt was a busy man, an important man, a Nobel Prize winner, probably one of the most important scientists alive today -- but it was he who'd invited me. He who'd set the date and time. I'd had to duck out of school an hour early to get here by bus. It was rude of him to keep me waiting so long.

But the truth was, I didn't care. I was consumed by curiosity...and anxiety. I'd wait all afternoon if I had to.

Bottom line: I had no idea why I was here. Why I'd been...summoned. The woman who called me had simply said: We got your email. Dr. Wyatt has read it. He would like to meet you.

She did not say it was a job interview. She had not asked me to send, or bring, a résumé or a school transcript or any teacher recommendations.

We got your email.

I had emailed Dr. Wyatt. I had found his address on the Wyatt Transgenics website and I had written to him. That was a fact. Three weeks ago. But it had been a big mistake, a drunken impulse that had embarrassed me seconds after I'd clicked Send, and certainly it had never occurred to me that Dr. Wyatt himself would read my message. It was inconceivable that it had caused an invitation -- no, my earlier word was more accurate: a summons.

A command?

What was I doing here? Was this truly a job interview with Quincy Wyatt himself?

"Eli Samuels?" The voice from the mezzanine level was pitched normally, but it carried down to me as clearly as if the speaker were using a microphone.

My head jerked up. I found myself scrambling out of my chair. Staring up.

And...there he was. Dr. Quincy Wyatt, the man himself, twenty feet above me, standing at the top of the spiral of the double helix. He looked exactly like he did in the photographs. That big head with the tight, grizzled, reddish-white hair. The round black-rimmed glasses. The steel cane clenched in his left hand.

Viv's voice again. He's a legend, Eli! I mean, from seventh-grade biology class-Gregor Mendel, Watson and Crick, Quincy Wyatt. We had to learn all that stuff, remember?

I remembered, all right. I remembered, for reasons I'd never told Viv -- and never would, either.

I stared up the stairs at him. He at least was wearing a suit -- a cream-colored linen suit, with a beige shirt. His fit him better than mine did me. I was suddenly very conscious of my ankles, sock-clad but otherwise exposed to the world in the gap between the hem of my father's pants and my shoes.

Then Dr. Quincy Wyatt lifted one hand and beckoned. And, though I made no conscious decision to move, I found myself walking.

I crossed the reception area. I mounted the stairs. I felt his gaze on me, piercing, bright, interested. And when I reached the mezzanine, I stood quite still -- it didn't even occur to me to put out my hand in an offer to shake -- and he examined my face for two full minutes. I stood patient as a statue as his eyes took me in, missing -- I knew -- nothing. Not the ill-fitting suit, not the bulge of the book in my pocket, not the backpack dangling from my hand. Not even -- I'd have sworn -- a grain of my skin.

The most acute mind on the planet, he'd been called.

I wondered if he could see my soul. My lies to Viv. The drunken disaster I'd been that endless horrible spring night, after it had become clear to my father that no college acceptances or even rejections had arrived, and I told him the truth: They would not, because I had applied nowhere.

I thought that maybe I wouldn't mind if Dr. Wyatt could see everything.

At last, he nodded. "Eli Samuels," he said again. There was a tone to his voice -- as if I were a specimen now satisfactorily labeled and classified -- that reinforced my idea that he understood me better, somehow, than anyone else ever had, or would.

"Hello, Dr. Wyatt," I said. The words came out a little croaked; I had to clear my throat. And then I heard myself add inanely: "Here I am." I wanted to disappear; I felt so stupid.

But: "Indeed, Eli Samuels," said Dr. Wyatt. "Here you are."

Then he smiled directly at me. He smiled the way Viv's mother does when I come home with Viv after school.

The smile caused his cheeks to lift into little mountains on his face. And somehow I knew that I didn't need to be nervous or afraid anymore.

I smiled back. I was too relieved to do it well.

Dr. Wyatt lifted his steel cane a fraction of an inch from the floor, just enough to gesture with it. "Come with me into my office," he said, and turned. He limped a little as he moved, but he used the cane deftly, and I followed him in the same way that, as a child, I'd toddled confidently after my mother.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

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(8)

4 Star

(11)

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(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2012

    Good book The author could have made the story better. At times

    Good book
    The author could have made the story better. At times it did get a little boring, but the ending is really good. This book really makes you think about the difference between trying to help others and playing God.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2011

    GREAT ending, BAD begginning!

    This book took a while to get into. It was a reasonable length, but if I'm going to read a 200 page book, I want to be into it from the beginning, however for this book, it was NOT the case! It took me from around page 150 to get into it, which I didn't like at all! The ending was very good and I liked it very much. Overall, just okay.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2011

    Book Review

    Double Helix by Nancy Werlin shows a story of an 18-year old boy named Eli whose goes through many problems throughout his life. While the concept of the book was very interesting, certain aspects of it distracted from the main point. This book also had a variety of different stories which at the end mended into one main idea, although those various stories prevented me from getting what the entire story was saying. The purpose of this novel was to entertain readers with a science fiction story about a fatal disease and how it's tracked through the chromosomes. Considering all of the complex science facts and the more mature actions taken by the main character, the audience for this book would be 14-18 years old.
    The characters in this novel are very different. Most of the characters don't have a very good relationship with each other. The only working relationship in the beginning of the book is between Eli and his girlfriend, Vivian Fadiman who he calls Viv. Even though they live together, Eli and his father aren't close, and don't have any trust. The cause for this is mostly because Eli's mother has Huntington's disease and is in special care. Although towards the end of Double Helix their relationship gets better with the solution to the main problem in the story.
    In addition, I thought that while reading this book the characters seemed very stereotypical. In the end it seemed that you read a regular hero and villain story. Relating to that, you could somewhat figure out who was malign and who was good in the beginning. Out of all of the characters, I thought that the most interesting was Dr. Wyatt. It seemed that he knew the most in the book and since his background in the story was diverse, it drew the reader in.
    Double Helix starts out with Eli, the main character getting a job at the Wyatt Trangenics with a legendary molecular biologist. Its something that he has always wanted, "It was almost impossible for me to sit still-but I had to" (Page 1). Although his dad is not as excited about his son's new job. Eli doesn't find out why until later. That reason also links to the mystery about his family disease. A terrible disease that caused his mother to forget her own son, "I had no idea if she recognized me, or the photos, or the word Eli anymore" (page 72). In this story, without his job at the Wyatt Transgenics Eli would have never found out what his parents hid from him and his past.
    Overall, I didn't enjoy this book very much. The main reason for that was that the overwhelming science facts distracted me from the actual story. When I was just starting to grasp the concept, the plot was sidetracked by a complex science fact which I couldn't understand until I read it over and over again. I also felt that I had to revisit the facts in order to understand and learn what the character was thinking. This book has definitely lived up to explaining the disease and the role it takes in the character's life, but the author didn't to do a well enough job to deliver an interesting story. The author didn't make a unique plotline which would interest the reader from the beginning.
    Another thing that I didn't like about the book was that it was very unrealistic. This book suggests the possibility of changing chromosomes in a premature baby. I thought that those parts were not very convincing at all. If Nancy Werlin wanted to include the thought of the possibility of those subjects, she should have expanded them a little more.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2011

    Recommended to some- read this to know what to look out for.

    Double Helix. Nancy Werlin. New York, USA: Penguin Group, 2004. 250.
    From all the books in this world there are myriad genres, some more interesting than others. Mystery keeps you on the edge of your seat, flipping from one page to another. Literally. Double Helix by Nancy Werlin exactly does that, it's a gripping and suspenseful piece, perfect for readers looking for a science not-so-fiction novel. Werlin skips, yet explains, many topics throughout the book: love, disease, science, sexuality, fear, trust, morality, and mainly about destiny.
    Eli is fresh out of high school, and he's looking the other way as most of his fellow classmates are getting shipped off to college. Even as salutatorian, Eli decides he rather talk to a scientist at Wyatt Transgenics, Dr. Quincy Wyatt. Ironically, he immediately gets employed, "destroying his path to becoming nothing," as his father thinks. Eli claims his hopes of employment there were a "drunken impulse" and regrets sending the email that would change his future. Eli notices Dr. Wyatt's strange fascination of him and wonders exactly why. "I went to work for Wyatt- and suddenly my carefully compartmentalized life fell apart," Eli remarks as he unknowingly and accurately depicts the series of events soon to occur.
    Eli tries to maintain the hardships and his self-esteem between relationships, his occupation, and his internal issues. He verbally combats with his father, Jonathan, showing uneasiness in emotions among those two. There's constantly tension, heavy as oxygen, floating around about Eli's mother who's battling Huntington's disease. Jonathan wishes Eli wasn't so secretive so then they could go back to the trust they had before. In the midst of Eli's life at home, he finds a girlfriend Vivian Fadiman, who Eli calls Viv. Viv is sort of his ethical backbone to his stress and exhaustion due to her ability to openly discuss anything and relate to the issues in a calm natured fashion. She is Eli's "oasis"; with her he could, "pretend everything and everyone was normal." Viv is a charming and wise individual who helps Eli through roughly everything internal and external. Especially when it had came to her getting blueprints of Wyatt Trangenics building due to Elis curiosity. When Eli first met Dr. Wyatt he's jittery and nervous, but suspiciously gets the high paying job.
    Wyatt Trangenics becomes his new "oasis", which was good and bad. It was good because Eli needed a distraction when everything outside of his shield was burning, but it was bad when he started getting too close to Dr. Wyatt. Over there Eli could zone out and forget about everything. His job is to take care of rabbits, and he makes use of this- knowing the risks. He makes a friend, a pet, Foo-Foo who stands out from the rest of his test subjects. Eli's occupation helps him realize a few things about the world, and it helps him find himself once he started drowning in his own thoughts.
    Eli deals with many dilemmas in the book; his mother and his feeling about her, Huntington's Disease, why Jonathan hates Dr. Wyatt, and just exactly why Dr. Wyatt is so intrigued by Elis' every move, vision, and thought. He can't figure out his father's ill hatred towards Dr. Wyatt, which causes more disturbances at home, but it soon cools over when they talk things through and get their father to son connection working again. Eli also notices from the point he walked through the door of Wyatt Trangenics, he was bizarrely observed by Dr. Wya

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Doubled Over With Joy

    Wow. This book was fantastic. I found it scientific, thrilling, mysterious, and creative. It was interesting to see a less...publicized neurodegenerative disease like Huntington's. I really enjoyed this book. The ending I thought could use some work, but other than that it was great. Double Helix was unique, which is what I think I enjoyed most about it. If you are into the sciences at all, you should read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2009

    Great Story

    I absolutely loved this story! I'm quite picky with books, because of the fact I get bored easily, but this book definately kept me entertained. I highly recommened it if you don't mind the science aspect.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 30, 2009

    Would you kill...?

    If you thought that you deserved a right to live, would you kill the one person who was willing put you into life?

    oOo

    Double Helix, by Nancy Werlin, is a science-mystery novel targeted towards teens and young adults. The story follows an eighteen-year-old high school graduate, Eli Samuels, who had been experimented by Dr. Quincy Watt before he was born in order to avoid being a victim of Huntington's disease-- an incurable illness which affects a person's ability to move, impairs memory, and ultimately shortens a person's lifespan. Eli initially does not know that he was experimented on-- with a price-- at the beginning of the story, but later begins to discover the darker elements of his past and the hard future ahead of him.

    Nancy Werlin touches on some controversial issues, such as the impact of generic alterations on human beings and the idea of 'who deserves to live'. The story centers around the hardships genetic engineering brings to a person's life. Many of Eli's close friends and family members-- namely, his mother and his sister, Kayla-- were born with Huntington's disease, and therefore 'unfit to live', according to science. In the end, Eli defeats Dr. Quincy Watt and leaves readers with the idea that everyone deserves life, whether they have genetic problems or not, and that destroying all possible traces of genetic diseases (Huntington's disease) is unreasonable and leaves permanent problems in life.

    Strange, though, Werlin also apparently believes that destroying the life of a character that allowed other diseased characters to live is acceptable. Go figure.

    Dr. Quincy Watt, a molecular biologist, is portrayed as 'evil' for testing experiments on fetuses that, otherwise, would have no life. Yes, that probably sounds pretty evil.

    .but it is?

    Sometimes people get so wrapped around pitying other people, they forget what the overall outcome is. They forget who had helped them. They forget about everything they have, everything they need-- and, of course, put the blame all on one person or a group of people. In this story, it was Dr. Watt.

    oOo

    In Double Helix, the mother of Eli-- whom was diagnosed with Huntington's disease-- had desperately wanted a child; so much, she had agreed to strike up a deal with Quincy Watt. If she were to give him some of her eggs, he would be able to test them all to see which of them had Huntington's disease and which of them didn't. A non-diseased egg would be used to create a child-- Eli-- in exchange for the rest of the eggs. Since Eli's mother didn't want to pass the illness to her child, she went with the offer without hesitation.

    Years later, Eli met Dr. Watt as his lab assistant, along with his very own step-sister. who had Huntington's disease. He would later discover about his mother's deal, his father's hate of the scientist, and his many diseased siblings.

    Obviously, he'd be quite angry with this information. And he was, along with his sister, Kayla.

    But, honestly. why?

    Should Eli's mom also be an 'evil' character, because she agreed to the deal? After all, she had requested the treatment!

    Oh, of course. Eli hates Dr. Watt because he gave him life, hates him because he gave his siblings a chance at life even though they were diseased, hates him because he was willing to teach him the truth.

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  • Posted March 29, 2009

    The Gene Pool yeilds a Novel Double Helix, by Nancy Werlin. 250pp. New York: Sleuth Books, Penguin Putnam Inc., ©2005. $6.99

    POW! This book has no trouble starting off with a bang. Nancy Werlin is not new to writing, in fact she has won the Edgar Allen Poe award in 1999, and has had an acclaimed writing career. Double Helix is a bizarre twist on a mystery category of whodunits; the who is known, it is Dr. Quincy Wyatt, a world-famous geneticist, the dunit known-Wyatt and the main character's father have a strange dislike. But the reason to read this book is the why. The book is named for the double-helix makeup of DNA.

    Eli Samuels is the subject of this book, and a more ability-adorned high-schooler cannot be imagined. He has a loving girlfriend, Vivian Fadiman, is great at sports, and is so caring that he gave his girlfriend the Valedictorian award, worsening his grades to become Salutatorian. But one night, after drinking, he sends an email to Wyatt Transgenics. Wyatt himself replies, inviting him to a meeting. Eli isn't planning on going to college this year, so Wyatt hires him to work as a lab assistant- over $18 an hour. Eli likes the work, but his dad is completely against it. The question is why.

    But Eli is not without problems. His mother is dying of a mental condition, Huntington's Disease, and he knows Wyatt has something to do with this. His mother, Ava, had been starting to show signs of HD for several years, and was looking for a way to have a baby with no chance of HD. Ava also bears a striking resemblance to another character.

    The world of Double Helix is not without trouble, and Eli seems to walk into the worst of it. But Werlin's creation of a family torn apart, of confusion and young love, and a terrible disease make you want to read through the sorrow. Double Helix is a page-turner that unobtrusively adds mystery with every new chapter. Kayla Matheson, an old friend of Wyatt, seems to have a connection to Eli-they are both too perfect-and the only way to find out is to delve into the labyrinth of clashing peoples of Double Helix.

    However, when the time comes for Eli to learn the reason of his father's hatred towards Dr. Quincy Wyatt, the book takes a turn for the worst: the main plot twist of the book that should leave you speechless is unfortunately an "eh" at best. That is the only major fault with the book. Thankfully the book is still worth reading.

    Although the conclusion is not satisfying, the rest of this mystery novel is a complete page turner. The book plunges you into Eli's shoes, and thankfully the book makes enough sense to finish, instead of veering off from sci-fi. And when Eli finally faces his father, you know that all will be well. The epilogue is one of the few that stay true to the books tone, and it displays that Eli has a bright future ahead of him.

    Werlin's writing style makes you become Eli, and the points she conveys through him were made with her hopes to help people realize what truly goes on. She wants us to think about our impact on humanity and if we can handle the power we create.

    All in all, Double Helix is a mystery worth reading. Werlin does a great job of building up suspense, almost having you fall into her world. The poor answer to Jonathon Samuel's anger does not compare to the great time of picking up this book. Be warned, however-once you start, you might not be able to stop reading. The book shows that, no matter what, you can always forge your own destiny. As Eli says, "no matter what the gene map says, I don't believe it predetermines who. [anyone] can be."

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  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

    After recently reading and reviewing Nancy Werlin's THE RULES OF SURVIVAL, I went in search of some of her other books. I discovered DOUBLE HELIX, and it didn't disappoint me. <BR/><BR/>Eli Samuels, salutatorian of his graduating class, has decided to postpone college for a year. His father is not pleased. But Eli is struggling to decide just exactly where he is headed in life. Complicating matters are his relationship with his girlfriend and his mother's illness, Huntington's disease. <BR/><BR/>Eli and his father have been struggling with Ava's illness for many years, but the end is near. She is confined to a nursing home and not even aware of their visits. Eli's future is uncertain because Huntington's disease is hereditary. His mother may have passed him the gene which carries the disease. A simple blood test holds the answer, but Eli is not ready to know the truth. <BR/><BR/>Dr. Quincy Wyatt, a famous scientific researcher, offers Eli a job at Wyatt Transgenics. It involves caring for research animals and helping in the lab. The more Eli learns about Dr. Wyatt and the work of his company, the more he begins to question what he knows about his own life. <BR/><BR/>Using clever twists and turns, Nancy Werlin has created a real nail-biter that makes this book hard to put down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2008

    Double Helix

    Eli has just accepted a job at the prestigious Wyatt Industries, after being personally welcomed by the famous and brilliant Dr. Quincy Wyatt. Eli¿s father hates Dr. Wyatt for an unknown reason, and is depressed because his wife is in the hospital with Huntington¿s disease. This book taught me a lot about Huntington¿s disease. Huntington¿s disease is a horrific ailment in which a person¿s mind starts to deteriorate. The mind starts breaking down when a person is middle aged, and there is no cure. Because Huntington¿s is genetically passed, Eli wonders if he is HD positive throughout the story. This keeps him from having relationships with people. In the story, Eli starts finding strange connections between himself and Dr. Quincy¿s niece, Kayla. I liked how the author tied all of her little side plots in at the end, but the book has an excess of unneeded information. Only the end was a mystery, even though mystery is the book¿s genre. The beginning was kind of confusing, but the ending was great. This book is not part of a series, but the beginning awkwardly makes it feel like it is.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2007

    great book for teens but not for younger kids

    its a great book .i won't say its so suspensful.i won't recommend this book for kids under the age of 10 years old .it has mild langage .but it is a great book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2007

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    After recently reading and reviewing Nancy Werlin's THE RULES OF SURVIVAL, I went in search of some of her other books. I discovered DOUBLE HELIX, and it didn't disappoint me. Eli Samuels, salutatorian of his graduating class, has decided to postpone college for a year. His father is not pleased. But Eli is struggling to decide just exactly where he is headed in life. Complicating matters are his relationship with his girlfriend and his mother's illness, Huntington's disease. Eli and his father have been struggling with Ava's illness for many years, but the end is near. She is confined to a nursing home and not even aware of their visits. Eli's future is uncertain because Huntington's disease is hereditary. His mother may have passed him the gene which carries the disease. A simple blood test holds the answer, but Eli is not ready to know the truth. Dr. Quincy Wyatt, a famous scientific researcher, offers Eli a job at Wyatt Transgenics. It involves caring for research animals and helping in the lab. The more Eli learns about Dr. Wyatt and the work of his company, the more he begins to question what he knows about his own life. Using clever twists and turns, Nancy Werlin has created a real nail-biter that makes this book hard to put down. **Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka 'Readingjunky'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2007

    Double Helix

    As always Nancy Werlin has written another fantastic book. Double Helix never loses your attention while following the life of Eli Samuels. In this book Eli accepts a job from the renowned scientist, Dr. Wyatt, at his lab, Wyatt Transgenic¿s. When Eli tells his father about the job his dad gets mad at him. For some mysterious reason Mr. Samuels down not like Dr. Wyatt. Meanwhile Eli¿s mother, Ava, is in a nursing home dying of Huntington¿s Disease. One day, Dr. Wyatt invited Eli over to his house to meet a girl named Kate, even though Eli has a girlfriend, Viv. That night, Eli blew off his date with Viv to stay at Dr. Wyatt¿s. When Eli returns home he sees Viv and his father whom have never met. Eli began to get mad at both his father and Viv, because his father had told Viv that his mother was dying. After that Viv and Eli decided to break up. When Ava Samuel¿s dies, Eli begins to wonder about the story between his dad and Dr. Wyatt. With a myriad of secrets revealing themselves, and Eli finding a secret elevator in the lab that will reveal everything he wants to know, what will Eli discover? This is the book for you if you love a great suspense or mystery book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2007

    Double Helix

    This is an amazing book that will keep you guessing until the very end. It is one of my favorites! Nancy Werlin is an incredible author, and I found myself wanting to finish the novel, and at the same time have it never end. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading mysteries and thrillers. I would also recommend this to people that enjoy reading about scientific events and discoveries. There was a lot of information that I learned from this novel, yet it was not boring. I found myself wanting to know more. This is truly a wonderful book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2007

    Very nice.

    This is very cool, I really enjoyed reading this, I got through like half in one day cause I was so into it. I don't even really like reading and I found this to be great!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2006

    Could not stop

    I read this book in one day . Sorry i was clued . Another great book . This book was smart. I didn't expected most of the things that came uponed in this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2006

    Impressive

    I like to consider myself an intelligent teenager, and for a long time I have been hard-pressed to find a smart read. After much searching and a few disappointments, I finally came upon this amazing book. Sure, some of the events were a little predictable, but that didn't stop me from being glued to my seat as I experienced Werlin's style and all the other elements. Highly recommended, especially if you have a strong interest in medicine and/or science.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2006

    Teachers review it for mature content. For ages 16 + students,

    Double Helix was a good medical mystery with accurate accounts of HD and gene therapy. I recommend it for mature high school students studying higher sciences or social studies classes. The book uses a lot of 'self talk' by Eli, the narrator. He has very complex views on the world and often thinks about acting in great detail, only to act in the opposite manner. There are some shifts in time that require strong comprehension skills. If a student is not good at determining voice, thought(in italics), and dialogue (partial quotes and paragraph breaks), this book could be very confusing. The chapters are short, but it would probably not make a very good read-a-loud in science classes except with a very dynamic reader, but it does have some sections that could be presented to a science or social studies class for the issues. It had some mature content that does not allow it to be assigned in a classroom, even as optional extra credit, except for the most mature students in high school and college. It is dissappointing that the story included brief sexually suggestive & mature content that had no real bearing on the plot outcomes. It also sends the wrong message that a top student in a top public school has to use drunkenness as his excuse for an email rant to a Nobel-Prize winning scientist. There were other ways to justify the original meeting as the characters were well developed in general. The treatment of HD, downes syndrome, gene therapy, and post high school options are all examined carefully.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2006

    Double Helix

    One night 18 year old Eli gets drunk and writes world-renound Dr. Quincy Wyatt a letter asking for a job. Eli has always been bigger and more athletic than most of the people he know, so he sticks out quite a bit. He and Wyatt become close and spend many hours together talking controversial and intellectual subjects. Eli's father doesn't want him to take the job. He says Wyatt is a bad man with many secrets. He refuses to give Eli a decent reason though. It is up to Eli to discover the truth. Double Helix was an okay book. It was really slow getting into, but it picked up some towards the middle and had a very suprising ending. I wouldn't recommend it for anything, but I also wouldn't say that it was bad.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2005

    Fantastic Story

    I great and suspenseful tale of genetics and the unknown world of science about to be uncovered. Characters are greatly detailed and you feel as though you could actually see into their soul as you read this book. Keeps you guessing until the end and leaves you begging for more.

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