The Genome Odyssey by Euan Angus Ashley Book Review

Author Information

Euan Ashley is a professor of medicine and genetics at Stanford University. He was born in Scotland and graduated from the University of Glasgow. He attended Oxford University, completing a Ph.D. there before moving to Stanford University, where he trained in cardiology and genetics. After joining the faculty, he led the team that carried out the first medical interpretation of a human genome. Ashley has received innovation awards from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association. He was recognized by the Obama White House and received the Medal of Honor from the American Heart Association.

Dr. Ashley’s articles have appeared in many journals, including the Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Nature, and Cell. He appears regularly on local and national radio and TV. He is the founder of three companies and advisor to several well known Silicon Valley companies. With three young children, he spends his spare time trying to understand American football, play the saxophone, and conduct research on the health benefits of single malt Scotch whisky.

Book Description

Since the Human Genome Project was completed in 2003, the price of genome sequencing has dropped at a staggering rate. It’s as if the price of a Ferrari went from $350,000 to a mere forty cents. Through breakthroughs made by Dr. Ashley’s team at Stanford and other dedicated groups around the world, analyzing the human genome has decreased from a heroic multibillion dollar effort to a single clinical test costing less than $1,000.

For the first time we have within our grasp the ability to predict our genetic future, to diagnose and prevent disease before it begins, and to decode what it really means to be human.

In The Genome Odyssey, Dr. Ashley details the medicine behind genome sequencing with clarity and accessibility. More than that, with passion for his subject and compassion for his patients, he introduces readers to the dynamic group of researchers and doctor detectives who hunt for answers, and to the pioneering patients who open up their lives to the medical community during their search for diagnoses and cures.

He describes how he led the team that was the first to analyze and interpret a complete human genome, how they broke genome speed records to diagnose and treat a newborn baby girl whose heart stopped five times on the first day of her life, and how they found a boy with tumors growing inside his heart and traced the cause to a missing piece of his genome.

These patients inspire Dr. Ashley and his team as they work to expand the boundaries of our medical capabilities and to envision a future where genome sequencing is available for all, where medicine can be tailored to treat specific diseases and to decode pathogens like viruses at the genomic level, and where our medical system as we know it has been completely revolutionized.


Thank you to Celadon Books for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

I decided to do this one differently than how I normally write my reviews because it is a non fiction book. I didn’t want to talk about characters even if there are some because that wouldn’t tell you much about the book. I will comment on each part of this book as well a the writing style because I think that’s more important when deciding if you want to read this book.

This is a book that I believe you could decide only to read a part of it and still get something out of it. You might be a little confused when you start on a different part but I think you’ll be intrigued enough that you’ll want to go back and read other parts.

Part One

This part of the book is an introduction to the team and how they became a part of this team. You get to meet different people through each of the chapters and get to know their backstory. I really enjoyed getting to know more about these people and their motivations behind working with genomes. I thought it was important for the book to open with this introduction so that as you continue reading you know who is who. You also know why they are working together and what it is that each of them specifically do.

Part Two

This part gives you a brief overview of some of the patients that the group introduced to you in part one is working on and with. This portion of the book is showing you how genome medicine is basically detective work and how each of the cases they were given were solved. This portion is really interesting because you hear about people who have been searching for an answer to their ailments for so long and finally have their answer. It was so interesting to see what those answers were and how they wouldn’t have a solution without genome medicine. I also thought that this section really showed the importance of having this type of medicine available to everyone and not just the select few who could afford it.

Part Three

This portion focuses on the author’s cardiac patients and the stories that he found most important to tell. This is actually my favorite portion of this book because you can feel the author’s emotions coming through on the page. Each chapter tells the story of a different cardiac patient of the author and you get wrapped up in the story right from the start of each chapter, wanting to know what happens to this patient.

Part Four

This portion of the book focuses on the future of genetic medicine and how looking at “superhumans” can help make other people just as “super.” The author focuses on new efforts on genome sequencing and advancing in curing genetic diseases. I winded up skimming through this part of the book as I didn’t find it as intriguing as the rest of it. This part was a bit hard to follow and it didn’t seem to flow as well as the others parts.

Writing Style: This book is told in four parts and takes stories that the author has along with stories that he borrows from the other people involved in this project. I really liked how this book is separated into four parts and found that the way it separates is done well.

Hollywood Park ARC Book Review

Thoughts: Thank you to Celadon Books for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Memoirs are a little difficult to review as I can’t really rate them on their characters or the plot. It isn’t as if those are features that could have been changed in the person’s life. What I can talk about though is the writing style and the way the story is told.

This memoir is split up into four parts each one documenting a different portion of Mike’s life. Each of these different parts are written with a distinguishable tone which is quite enjoyable.

Escape: This portion of the memoir tells you the story of Synanon and what it was like for Mikel and his brother to live there. This portion is told through the eyes of a very young, naive child who is still learning about the world. You start to get an idea about the relationships that Mikel has with others and the role that certain people play in his life.

Oregon: This portion of the book changes tones and it is like Mikel has suddenly matured and grown wiser. He is still a child and there is so much left for him to learn but often times he plays the role of an adult. In this portion of the book Mikel gets to know his father and that side of his family which changes his personality and his relationship with others. I really enjoy this portion of the book as we learn more about Mikel and start to see some changes for him. This is the point in which Mikel feels as if he is responsible for taking care of his mother and you see him grow up much quicker than a child should have to.

California: This portion of the book where there is a major shift for all of the characters as Mike goes to live with his dad and his dad’s partner in California. There is a major shift in Mike’s behavior at this point in the book as he becomes a teenager and wants to be accepted by his brother. The tone in this portion shifts as we are now hearing this story from a teen rather than a child.

This is the portion of the book that I felt told most of the story and where the story really picks up. This was the portion of the book that kept me reading and really wanting to know what happened to Mikel and his family. I liked how the tone gradually shifts throughout this section of the book as Mikel grows up physically and also mentally. The end of this section is where I put down the book to have all my feelings.

Hollywood Park: In this part of the book Mikel grows up and away from his past. The tone of the book drastically shifts and sounds like a mature young adult telling his story. He walks you through his time in college as he learns about his past and makes sense of his life. I enjoy how this portion is told and how you feel Mikel’s emotions along with him. I like how he walks you through his thought process as he figures everything out.

Overall: I really enjoy how the majority of this book is told through the perspective of a child. The story reads as if a child is recalling these events as best as he can. I really enjoy that because it is as if the story is happening real time. While the story is being told as a child, I like that as the child grows older so does the narrator. You can feel the shift in age and also in mindset as things occur throughout the book.

Something else that I liked is how the story is told in chronological order and doesn’t jump around. I like the way each chapter is organized around a specific point in time or a specific event. It was also helpful that each section had a different tone and the narrators language shifted. I liked that you could track the time passing as things happened.

You can get this book at Eso Won Books or look for it at your local library.

Saint X Book Review

Thank you to @celadonbooks for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for my review.

Summary: Alison and Claire are on their yearly family vacation when Alison suddenly disappears. Unfortunately, her body is found several days later and this case becomes one that makes national news. Claire was only a child when it happens and didnt really know who her sister was or who people claim she was. It isn’t until Claire finds Clive, a man who was a suspect in Alison’s case, in New York City that she begins to want more information on her sister and her death. This starts our story of Claire answering the question of what really happened to Alison but also getting to know Alison after her death. What will Alison find out about her sister? Was the story that she was told at 7 years old about the death of her sister the truth? What does Clive have to do with anything?

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book and when I saw others comparing it to The Girls I was worried I wouldnt enjoy it seeing as I wasnt a fan of that book. There was so many aspects of this book that I enjoyed though and part of it was the narrator.

I usually hate when I’m confused by the narrator and who is telling the story. This book shifts between telling the story in the 1st person point of view, through Claire’s perspective, and the 3rd person point of view coming from all other characters who play a part in this story. It gets a bit confusing and you start to wonder if maybe the third person is Claire’s view too but her trying to see things how these people would.

Something else I enjoyed was how descriptive each scene was, I could picture myself on vacation with this family and then again with Claire as she stalks Clive. I thought it made the book so much harder to put down because I didnt want to leave this other world I was immersed and invested in now.

Honestly this book is part of why I love adult fiction especially thrillers. They confuse me so much and I have to process them with others to know what happened. I love that everyone reads a different book and so much is left to the readers imagination.

I highly recommend this to those of you who like thrillers and mysteries. Maybe a good book to read while on vacation and give yourself some themed nightmares.

You can expect to see this book on shelves Febuary 2020.