On this day in 1953, Watson and Crick discovered the chemical structure of DNA, the Double Helix.
DNA plays an interesting role in YA books, often with consequences we don't see outside of fiction.
Double Helix by Nancy Werlin. When Eli gets a job working with the father of modern transgenics, his parents are dead set against it. His parents were friends with Dr. Wyatt when they were in school, so what's the big deal?
God Save the Queen by Kate Locke. It may be the 21st century, but Queen Victoria still reigns. Years ago the bubonic plague mutated, affecting the DNA and turning the aristocracy immortal. It's genetic and sometimes things go wrong. Xandra and her siblings are halfies, not quite human, not quite undead. Published for adults, mature teens will love this one. The first in the Immortal Empire series, follow it with The Queen Is Dead.
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield, illustrated by Keith Thompson. In this alternate take on WWI, The Allies are Darwinists, with their warships and weapons made by combining DNA strands from different animals. The Central Powers distrust the Darwinists reliance on animals, instead trusting technology and machines. All Derwyn wants to do is fly-- and she'll disguise herself as a boy to do it. Little does she know she'll end up in a war on a British warship (mostly whale) with the son of the murdered Archduke...
Jurassic Park: A Novel by Michael Crichton. This is a modern classic that teens will love. Scientists find Dinosaur DNA and create a dinosaur safari park. But then it all goes wrong and it's dinosaurs run amok!
The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code by Sean Kean. This nonfiction title for adults is an engaging look all the small and big ways DNA effects our lives and who we turn out to be.
Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant. Applegate and Grant retell the story of Adam and Eve, but this time in present day. After Eve is in a car crash, her mother has her recover at her genetics lab, where Eve starts creating the perfect boy.
The Angel Experiment by James Patterson. Max and her friends were bred to be 98% human and 2% bird. When one of their own is taken, they have to save her and battle other genetically mutated creatures and just possibly save the world. The first in a long-running series, the second is School's Out.
Wither by Lauren DeStefano. The first generation of genetically engineered "perfect" children are practically immortal. Every other generation dies young. Men at 25, women at 20. Science is trying to find a way to reverse their mistake, but in the mean time, in order to repopulate the world men take multiple wives, whether they're willing or not. The first in the Chemical Garden trilogy, the third, Sever came out last week.
Lucy by Laurence Gonzales. Jenny's a bonobo researcher. When a colleague dies, she starts caring for his orphaned daughter, Lucy. As Jenny looks through his notes, she discovers that Lucy s the result of a genetic experiment, half-human and half bonobo. Published for adults, due to Lucy's age, this has high teen appeal.
What are your must-read titles that deal with DNA?
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