An optimal medium for book reviews

The other day I read a very well-written review, by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, of Wicker (also called Cast of Shadows) by Kevin Guilfoile. The plot sounds horrific, as Kerrie describes it: "When his teenage daughter is raped and murdered, Davis uses the semen left in her body as the genetic basis of a cloned baby. He hopes that when the baby grows up he will somehow be able to use him to identify his daughter’s murderer.
The people who do this work are being targetted by an organisation called the Hand of God, that employs a killer to see that high profile pro-cloners and scientists are killed. Although these pressures, together with the death of his daughter, lead to Moore retiring from active practice, he follows the growth of Justin, the baby cloned from the rapists’ semen, with interest, and attempts to track the rapist down."

Although I’ve read about this book before, I wasn’t then inclined to read it: yet Kerrie’s review intrigued me, as she highlights some of the scientific and ethical questions arising from the previous paragraph (there are quite a few, obviously!) and concludes, "I didn’t "see" the ending of this novel coming. There are things revealed in the final 50 pages that you won’t predict, so if you find it a bit of a long read like I did, hang in there!" So yes, maybe I’ll overcome my sense of squeamishness and go for it.

But the book didn’t let Kerrie go, and yesterday she posted further thoughts about it, explaining that the book is essentially in two parts: one about DNA cloning and the ethical issues; and the second about a virtual 3D world called Shadowland, in which people are represented by avatars in a manner similar to Second Life. Kerrie describes some of the scientific, medical and "virtual world ethics" addressed in Wicker, as well as linking to some media articles about rape, prisons and child abuse in virtual reality.

This post decided me: I’m definitely going to read the book. But I wasn’t the only person impressed by Kerrie’s thoughts. In the comments, one Kevin Guilfoile writes: "just wanted to thank you for the thoughtful reading you gave to WICKER (Cast of Shadows). And thanks too for those Second Life links. I’m not really a gamer myself, but it is fascinating to watch expressions of violence find their way inevitably into a virtual world and more fascinating to watch the community try to come to grips with it."…..

Doesn’t this story show blogging at its best? First, a review of a book that makes the reader want to buy it. Then, the reviewer has thought more about the book, and can write a follow-up post, as well as linking to topical, related issues. And, the author lets us know his take. Perfect.