Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Life Ascending by Nick Lane

Age Group: Adult
Genre: Popular Science
Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of EvolutionPub date: June 2009
Publisher: Profile Books

Life Ascending is an excellent scientific book on evolution. I was a bit weary picking it up, as evolution has never been one of my favourite topics to read about, but I was pleasantly surprised by this. However, I would only recommend this if you are prepared to spend a lot of reading time mulling over the past bits you have read.

Lane presents a fascinating account of the most important contributors to modern life and how they evolved. It's exceptionally in-depth, and is very well reasoned and logical. It takes you on a voyage of discovery, from the beginning of life itself right through to death. The specific chapters I enjoyed were on consciousness and eyes. The other point about the content, is that unlike many other evolution books, this one really gets down to the grit of things, and looks at it from a bio-chemistry perspective. It really delves into cells, and if you like bio-chem, check out respiration and photosynthesis chapters.

There is no picking and choosing with this book, as Lane always refers back to previous chapters, whether its a good or bad thing is your choice, however I disliked that when I returned to it to reference it, I found it impossible to understand what was going on. 

The other downside to this book is that I found the writing style very dry. It did the job of educating me, but not entertaining me. However, it has really good content, so if you like biology, or just want to know how the world works, I'd give it a go!

Sum It Up: An interesting take on evolution packed with good content, however the writing is slightly dry, and a large amount of background knowledge is needed

Rating: 7/10

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