Eight Lives

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

Thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Unfortunately, I did not like this book. Not to say it's a bad book, it's just not to my liking. Written by an Australian and set in Australia, I found it was too full of Aussie slang and terminology. Maybe the author is targeting an international audience who are seemingly in love with our language, but as an Aussie, I found this a little too grating. Not many people in Australia actually speak this way.

Written from multiple perspectives, I felt the characters waffled on way too much, making the story just drag on. I managed to get 50% into the book before anything actually happened. Character and plot development are important, but this was just a little too much.

I couldn't finish this book. 2 stars only from me.
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A fascinating read, Eight Lives is a compelling, unique mystery/drama peopled with a cast of wonderfully complex characters. It's a perfectly-plotted page-turner - what happened to David/Dung? Whose fault was it? Why all the secrecy?
And yet, there's so much more to Eight Lives than that, the narrative interwoven with deeper questions about medical ethics and the power of Big Pharma.
It's extremely well researched but the plot is never slowed by the wealth of scientific detail.
A genuinely wonderful debut novel - I look forward to seeing what Susan Hurley does next.
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The story just kept getting better, albeit more twisty, as it went on. This was one of those unexpectedly good reads and one of the best from this genre this year. I loved the science aspect, but I'm not a STEM-y kind of girl so I don't know how well it went for others. A perfect summer thriller!
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This is a book set in Melbourne and centres on the development of a new miracle drug, a monoclonal antibody that could cure cancer and all sorts of incurable diseases.  It is told through the people who surround David Tran, the 'golden boy'. A Vietnamese refugee who has beaten the odds and come through medical school as a star.
However, David carries a lot of secrets and baggage. His girlfriend is a vegan and despises his research methods and protocols.  His mother and sister need his constant protection and support due to a past liaison.  He ends up with the worst possible business partner.  This leads to the 'incident' and point at which everyone's lives start to fall apart.
There is a lot of technical medical information in this book, but it is the reality of this research world and revealing as to how the big pharmaceutical companies operate.
A very interesting and though provoking insight into new medication development.
Thank you Affirm Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book.
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The story of David Tran, a research doctor, told from the viewpoints of his friends. This mystery story is well written and kept me engaged till the end. It provides a good story, technical medical details, suspense and a variety of points of view. I would recommend this book. I received a copy of Eight Lives through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I received a digital ARC from Netgalley and the publisher but chose to listen to the audio version and it was fabulous.
Dr David Tran is dead, he’s young, smart and has made a name in medical research but what happened to him and why?
There are a few significant people that played a part and each chapter is a different person’s perspective of what David meant to them and how their lives were interwoven. As their stories are told we slowly learn how things become a perfect storm.
In the audio version each person is narrated by someone different and the voices were very distinctive and I felt, appropriate to how I imagined them.
The was some medical jargon but this was easily understood, though it sometimes came across as a ‘podcast’ because of the way the characters told their stories. I really felt all this was very effective as an audio and it really enhanced my enjoyment. The ending was certainly not something I had taken into consideration.
Highly enjoyable and a different take on the theme of a medical thriller.
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I am going to preface this review with a disclaimer: I worked in this particular field at the time this book was set which will colour my review. 

This story is slow to start but picks up towards the end of the book, and gives a really good insight into the commercialisation aspects of immunology and medicine in general. There are multiple character viewpoints, some of which are more engaging than others. The science was reasonably clear and well explained, and I appreciated how different characters viewed it and tried to explain it differently. There were some predicaments I found rather too far-fetched for my liking (Rosa's failure to notice her hybridoma had stopped working being the major one), but I was mostly able to set aside those concerns and enjoy the story as it was. The author sets up the different stories threads and weaves them altogether to give a very satisfactory ending.
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Beautifully written. A poignant story with mystery and murder involved. What’s not to love?!
4/5 on goodreads
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A very interesting book which I have discussed with many people and had lots of interesting discussions on. Immunology, an interest of mine but learnt alot of new things about. Great story. Great characters. Excellent book. Surprising and different theme too.
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Eight Lives is an Aussie mystery/drama about a biotech entrepreneur whose experiment goes badly awry. This is a juicy story filled with secrets and scandals, idealistic yet conflicted scientists, shady venture capitalists, and a suspicious death at the centre of it all… 

Multiple, alternating first person perspectives give Eight Lives a gossipy feel; it’s such an easy to read page-turner, but its topic – the murky world of for-profit pharmaceutical research – makes it brainier than similar books usually are. Like chatty witness statements, each character gives their version of events in the life of Dr Dung Tran. We hear from his best mate, sister, girlfriend, a lab colleague about Tran’s efforts to develop a much-hyped, cutting-edge medical treatment called EIGHT, and how it all went horribly wrong.

Eight Lives is far-fetched at times, but it never strains credulity too far, and Susan Hurley backs it all up with impressive knowledge of the biotech, what it’s like inside start-up labs, and the machinations of high net wealth investors. What’s more, Hurley has a knack for explaining these details, so they are easily grasped but not dumbed down. This was a fun change of pace for me and a really enjoyable read.
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So this was a thriller. Not my usual style of book. I enjoyed it but it I found that had a lot of characters to follow and that sometimes ruined the flow for me. It is a really interesting read and I do recommend you give it a go. Thankyou to NetGalley, Affirm Press and the author, Susan Hurley, for the opportunity to read an advanced readers copy of Eight Lives in exchange for an honest opinion.
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This book offered a gripping and innovative thriller type of mystery, and the writing was great. However, as there were so many characters, it had me struggling to keep track and having to go back and forth kept disconnecting me from the story. I did find it very unique and enjoyable despite the structure and plethora of characters, though.
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Thankyou to NetGalley, Affirm Press and the author, Susan Hurley, for the opportunity to read an advanced readers copy of Eight Lives in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion. 
OMG, what an amazing story. 
I thought this book was really well written and provided a gripping read. 
I was hooked from the start.  4.5 stars
Definitely a book to read.
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What a fascinating book Eight Lives is! With the story told through five different sets of eyes I took a little while to settle into its rhythm, but this story is like a spider’s web and once I’d dabbled just a little I was caught. 
Essentially this is a story of betrayal on multiple levels, a spot of blackmail, murder and suicide, but also of survival. The book is packed with twists and turns. It takes time to work out who is manipulating whom and how, which makes the story utterly intriguing. Author Susan Hurley has researched thoroughly in order to deliver this story. Her knowledge of medical research is clear, and her understanding of the struggles faced by boat people fleeing Vietnam is excellent. I loved the plot, but I think it was the careful character development that makes this story more than just a murder mystery. The manner in which the key players interact helps to flesh it out into a very satisfactory read. I loved it!
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This is the story of David Tran and his new wonder drug. When David dies in strange circumstances, the people around him deal with it in different ways.
I enjoyed the method of telling this story: Dave Tran is the main character but we don't get things from his POV, we get the story from his friends, family, girlfriend, and colleagues. I liked the way that each person had a different view and different priorities. However, the multiple narrators did confuse things a little because there were many threads to the story that became a bit muddled in my head.
David and his family are refugees and so this book has a bit of a theme of the treatment of refugees in Australia. There was an odd habit in this book of including sentences in Vietnamese before the English translation. I understand that it is emphasising the mother tongue of David and his family, but I found it a bit clunky having to skip over sections because I can't read Vietnamese.
This book is very heavy on the medical, and scientific language, with quite a bit of business in there too. I only learnt after I started it that it is classed as a "medical thriller". I found the language quite confusing and technical.
This book had a bit of a slow start and then the death of David made things pick up a bit. However, it then descended back into slow and boring and I found that I was continuing reading for the sake of trying to finish rather than for enjoyment. I gave up on this book at about 70%.
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Autoimmune diseases that afflict the human race include Crohn's Disease, Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Scleroderma, and more than seventy others. These conditions cause great suffering, use a vast array of medical resources, and cost millions of dollars in research and therapy. 

Drugs called monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) are used to treat autoimmune illnesses and some cancers, with specific types for each disease. The 'Holy Grail' would be a mAb effective against ALL autoimmune conditions, and Dr. David Tran - the main character in this book - has invented one. It only needs to pass human trials to be worth billions.

David, whose given name is Dung (pronounced Yoong) Tran, is a Vietnamese-Australian who was spirited to the island continent with his mother Mai and sister Natalie after the Vietnam War. The trio escaped to Hong Kong, then traveled to Australia.

The little family struggled financially until David was taken under the wing of a wealthy, do-gooder Australian family named the Southcotts, whose son Miles was little David's contemporary. The Southcotts raised Miles and David in their home like brothers, and helped support Mai and Natalie, who lived in a rented house.

As young men Miles and David both studied medicine, and Miles is now a hospital administrator while David - who's brilliant and ambitious - does biomedical research. 

David's miraculous mAb, nicknamed EIGHT, is "a master switch for the immune system." EIGHT is being manufactured by a company called SuperMab, whose boss is a n'er do well called Charlie Cunningham. Charlie's successful businessman father CC gave Charlie the job, hoping to make an entrepreneur out of his dilettante gambler playboy son.....and good luck with that!!

As the story opens Charlie and David are being interviewed for a TV segment announcing the upcoming human trials of EIGHT, and Charlie brags about how profitable the medicine will be. This presentation makes several people uncomfortable, including David and other researchers, who know that human trials can fail miserably. In any case, David dies tragically before the trials begin.

The story is told by a rotating array of characters, who talk about Dave's demise from their individual points of view. The narrators include: 

Rosa: an Italian-Australian graduate student who works in David's lab and hopes to get a doctorate. Rosa, who also studies mAbs, is anxious about the human trials of EIGHT because of possible reactions to the drug. Rosa was raised by an aunt and uncle who adhere strongly to their Italian culture, and she wants to make them proud.

Ly (Natalie): David's sister, who runs a nail salon with her mother, Mai. Ly tries to make sure her mother never 'feels shame', which is important in Vietnamese culture - but not that easy in their overall circumstances. This causes some of the story's drama. Ly and Mai often speak Vietnamese, which makes a fun addition to the novel. 

Miles: David's 'brother from another mother.' Miles was wary when David first became part of the Southcott household, but soon accepted the smart little boy in his midst. In fact Miles - who was a professional tennis player in his youth - would have flunked out of school if not for David's tutoring and academic assistance. 

Foxy: A public relations honcho who's been CC's 'fixer' for decades. When CC's son Charlie - the Superlab supervisor - messes up, it's Foxy's job to rush in and engineer a rescue. Foxy will cajole, bribe, pay off, blackmail, etc. - whatever it takes - to put things right.

Abigail: David's beautiful blonde Australian girlfriend who's a vegan and a committed animal activist. Abigail studied chimpanzees in Rwanda and is averse to using animals for medical experiments. Having a boyfriend who's a medical researcher is problematical for Abigail.

As the storytellers slowly dribble out their tales, it feels like the layers of an onion are being removed one by one, revealing the truth about David and his wonder drug. All this leads to a spectacular ending that I certainly didn't predict.

The author, Susan Hurley, has worked in medical research and the pharmaceutical industry for more than thirty years. In the author's note, Hurley writes that the drug EIGHT was inspired by a real monoclonal antibody called TGN1412 and the consequences of it's human trials. 

Among other things I studied microbiology in graduate school, and I enjoyed the explanation of the medical research. The biomedical lingo isn't too complicated though, and - since it's smoothly incorporated into the story and sufficiently explained - should be comprehensible to most readers. 
I also liked the novel's plot, which melds very well with the science. I'd strongly recommend the book to fans of medical thrillers and mysteries.

Thanks to Netgalley, the author (Susan Hurley), and the publisher (Affirm Press) for a copy of the book.
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The plot of Eight Lives is based on a true story of a drug trial tragedy. 🌡🔬🧬💉 

Synopsys
Dr. David Tran is the “Golden Boy” of Australian medical research, He's developed a drug that could change everything in the field of immunotherapy. the pre-clinical testing in laboratory rats is over and they're starting the Phase One of the clinical trial, where they'll test the drug in “eight” healthy people. 
But something goes completely wrong, David dies and someone has to take the blame..... 

The story is narrated from the POV of family, friends and colleagues of David, where they narrate everything that happened until that fateful day, I like the dynamic and the clinical terminology.
The author did a good job maintaining the suspense, I loved that she used real facts in the book. It’s a little bit slow paced, but is well written and intriging.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Susan Hurley and Affirm Press, for the advanced copy, the book is released today.
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Eight Lives is a highly accomplished Australian medical mystery novel, set in the unusual-for-fiction world of modern biomedical research. This was a fascinating read for me, as I work part time as a Medical Investigator in a clinical trials unit, fortunately not doing Phase 1 research though. The author, who knows her stuff having worked in the industry for decades, has crafted a complicated tale about what happens when greed, pride and ambition win out over love, honour and loyalty. 

Dung ‘David’ Tran came to Australia as a refugee from Vietnam at a young age, and thanks to his genius and hard work, as well as the intervention of the well-intentioned wealthy mother of his school-mate, has become the “Golden Boy” of medical research, thanks to a new monoclonal antibody treatment, with the potential to cure a wide range of immunological diseases and cancers, which is about to begin human trials. Now he’s dead, and his family, partner, colleagues, business associates and friends, reflect on how it all went so horribly wrong.

Told from the POV of various narrators, each with a refreshingly different voice, this has layers of truth being peeled off like an onion. We gradually discover how a range of characters, from the spoiled scion of a family of entrepreneurs, who doesn’t let knowing nothing about medicine put him off the idea of running a drug trial, to the shadowy Vietnamese gangster terrorising Davey’s family, to the conflicted vegan martyr girlfriend, and the useless doctor/failed tennis player best friend each play a role in his demise.

I don’t think you need to know much about science or medicine to enjoy this book as long as you are interested in the topic, as everything is brilliantly explained - perhaps in too much detail for some, but obviously I loved all the medical details. The pharmaceutical industry has a horrible reputation for corruption and greed on a massive scale, but without them there would be no new treatments, and as someone working in the middle, parts of this were pretty chilling.

Early on I did start getting confused by the sheer range of characters and how they all interconnected, but by paying attention and reading it fairly quickly, all the pieces slotted elegantly into place. I really liked all the Australianisms and the Melbourne setting, as well as the insight into the Vietnamese and Italian immigrants’ experiences. This is best read without knowing any spoilers, but I did enjoy the little twists at the end.

My thanks to Susan Hurley, NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an arc and provide an honest review, I’ll be recommending this to all my colleagues. Eight Lives is published today.
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A murder mystery taut with a gripping, authentic plot..  Such a fantastic read..I couldn't finish it fast enough, and yet I didn't want it to end!"
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Despite a hard start to life as a refugee David Tran goes on to become a brilliant doctor as well as discovering a life changing drug.  In less than a year he will be found dead with more than one considered a person of interest in the investigation.  Did one of his family, friends or associates end his life and for what reason?
I was quite keen to read the book after discovering the author had a background in medical research and the pharmaceutical industry.   Medical related fiction and/or true life stories have always been high on my preferred reading list and I usually soak up the extra details which go with them. 
The book is based on an actual event where the first human trial of a drug resulted in six of the participants receiving a severe immune reaction, organ failure and lifelong repercussions.  It is a great idea for a book and the author obviously tapped into her experience ending up with a believable storyline.  Despite this I had a little trouble staying connected after the first few chapters and it was a struggle to finish.  There were too many characters for my liking and it was distracting going backwards and forwards between them.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a free digital copy of the book in return for an honest review.
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