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Typhoid Fever and Science: A Review of DEADLY by Julie Chibarro

Posted by on February 15, 2011

Deadly 
DEADLY
Julie Chibarro
304 pages
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: February 22nd, 2011
Source: GalleyGrab for Review
Rating: MEH

A mysterious outbreak of typhoid fever is sweeping New York.

Could the city’s future rest with its most unlikely scientist?
If Prudence Galewski is ever going to get out of Mrs. Browning’s esteemed School for Girls, she must demonstrate her refinement and charm by securing a job appropriate for a young lady. But Prudence isn’t like the other girls. She is fascinated by how the human body works and why it fails.

With a stroke of luck, she lands a position in a laboratory, where she is swept into an investigation of the fever bound to change medical history. Prudence quickly learns that an inquiry of this proportion is not confined to the lab. From ritzy mansions to shady bars and rundown tenements, she explores every potential cause of the disease. But there’s no answer in sight—until the volatile Mary Mallon emerges. Dubbed “Typhoid Mary” by the press, Mary is an Irish immigrant who has worked as a cook in every home the fever has ravaged. Strangely, though, she hasn’t been sick a day in her life. Is the accusation against her an act of discrimination? Or is she the first clue in a new scientific discovery?

Prudence is determined to find out. In a time when science is for men, she’ll have to prove to the city, and to herself, that she can help solve one of the greatest medical mysteries of the twentieth century.

I’ve read quite a few YA historical fiction novels. Never have I come across a novel set in the early 1900’s, during the time of Typhoid Mary, until I picked up Deadly by Julie Chibarro.

Prudence has always been fascinated by the sciences. She longs to find a way to save lives from disease and sickness. She sees death everywhere, especially after her brother died.

Soon, she aquires a job in the Department of Health, where they’ve started investigating a mysterious case of typhoid outbreaks.

Deadly is written in the form of sixteen year old Prudence Galewski’s diary entries. She started writing ever since her father left them. Ever since he joined the war and never came back. Is he dead? They have no way of finding out, but they’ve been waiting for nine years.

I expected more out of Deadly. Judging by the title and the cover, I expected more action, more significant things to happen. I was pretty disappointed by the fact that there was nothing to make me want to flip over to the next page. The only reason I read the whole thing was because I started reading it in the first place.

I contemplated giving Deadly 2 stars, but in the end, I decided on 3. I must give credit to the author for thoroughly, as can be seen in the writing and the author’s note, researching a topic I’ve never seen in young-adult fiction. But if I had a second chance, I doubt I would pick up Deadly again.

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4 comments

  1. one thing I didn't immediately notice about the cover is the viruses sneaking up the girl's dress- probably a hint at the typhoid? I thought it was pretty cool.

  2. Oh I'm so disappointed to hear this! I was so excited by the cover and the premise that it's been on my tbr list for a while.

    I might still check it out, but from the library! Thanks for the heads up.

    Eli

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