I had the good fortune of being sent a book by No Starch Press called "The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology." The book is a great introductory molecular biology text book explained through a manga-style narrative.
On the story side, it is very funny. Two girls, have been sent to their professor's private island for summer school. Under his and his assistant's tutelage, the girls gradually learn about proteins, DNA, transcription, and molecular cellular processes. The girls use a virtual reality machine to see molecules and processes up close and their string of questions serve to make the reader think through the topics.
Of course, as part of the girls' growth through the book, tempers flare, jokes are made, and embarrassing situations crop up - all drawn in manga style.
The narrative serves well to walk the reader though the topics, especially since the girls themselves have an inkling about the subject but are discovering it more in depth. Also, the topics, to me, seemed quite compete. The drawings and explanations alternate with pages of expository text (sprinkled with dialogue) to move between a high-level view and some detail.
It may not be "Genes," which I used in grad school, but it's a very good introductory text. I handed it to my son, who is in high school, and it has been helpful to him in his biology projects (and I think he found the storyline quite engaging, too).
I recommend this book as a fun introductory molecular biology text book. Graphical narratives are a great way to explore science and math (check out this amazing one on Mathamatics and Logic). No Starch Press has other manga books on Stats, Databases, Physics, Electricity, and Calculus.
If you want to know more about the book, here's an excerpt. Also, below, is a video by Joanne Manaster (@sciencegoddess), reviewing the book in her own inimitable style. The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology (Excerpt)
Book info, from the publisher, No Starch Press:
"The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology" by Masaharu Takemura, Sakura, and Becom Co., Ltd. August 2009, 240 pp. $19.95
Rin and Ami have been skipping molecular biology class all semester, and Professor Moro has had enough—he's sentencing them to summer school on his private island. But they're in store for a special lesson. Using Dr. Moro's virtual reality machine to travel inside the human body, they'll get a close-up look at the fascinating world of molecular biology.
Join them in "The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology," and learn all about DNA, RNA, proteins, amino acids, and more. Along the way, you'll see chemical reactions first-hand and meet entertaining characters like Enzyme Man and Drinkzilla, who show how the liver metabolizes alcohol.
Together with Ami and Rin, you'll learn all about:
• The organelles and proteins inside cells, and how they support cellular functions
• The processes of transcription and translation, and your genes' role in synthesizing proteins
• The pieces that make up our genetic code, like nucleotides, codons, introns, and exons
• The processes of DNA replication, mitosis and cytokinesis
• Genetic technology like transduction and cloning, and the role of molecular biology in medicine
Whether you need a molecular biology refresher or you're just fascinated by the science of life, "The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology" will give you a uniquely fun and informative introduction.
Masaharu Takemura is a Lecturer at the Tokyo University of Science in biology, molecular biology, and life sciences. A Doctor of Medical Science, Takemura has written several books about biology.