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Pop reviews — week of Feb. 9


Robin Cook

Robin Cook has been entertaining medical thriller fans for decades, but he does much more with his latest novel, Cell.

The story begins when a company gives prospective investors some exciting news: It has a smartphone app called iDoc that could replace primary-care physicians.

With iDoc, if a patient has a sore throat, all he has to do is put his saliva on his phone’s touch screen. The app will analyze it, make a diagnosis and even send a prescription to the pharmacy.

The app is in the final stage of testing, and participants in the program love it. The government is even considering iDoc for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

Then several of iDoc’s patients die.

George Wilson, a radiology resident at a Los Angeles medical center, wants to find out what’s wrong. His fiancee is among the dead.

The young doctor is no hero. He’s confused, naive and worried that he may be entering the medical profession when it has passed its zenith. His vulnerability makes the drama of Cell all the more compelling.

Cook has written a thought-provoking story.

— Waka Tsunoda

Associated Press

Tru Colors

Wayne Marshall

Some 10 years after the release of Marshall Law, Jamaican reggae artist Wayne Marshall has released Tru Colors, a diverse 13-track collection under the supervision of Damian Marley on the Ghetto Youths International label.

Written mostly by Marshall, the long-awaited record covers a broad range of topics and showcases collaborations with veteran dance-hall artists Assassin, Bounty Killer, Tarrus Riley and Capleton.

The standout track is the catchy anthem Stupid Money, featuring Assassin. With a delivery that rides smoothly alongside Marshall’s vocal, a hip-hop beat and children singing the hook, it’s reminiscent of Jay Z’s Hard Knock Life.

The title track sees an honest Marshall calling out disloyalty and deceit among fake friends over a lively mid-tempo beat, and the rootsy I Know is a boastful tease to his peers showing his witty and competitive nature.

Be on the Alert, featuring Bounty Killer, draws on the seriousness of missing children in Jamaica, and while Nah Give Up with Taurus Riley talks about the struggles of life, it also speaks of triumph.

Album producer Marley makes an appearance on previously released club anthem Go Hard, which also features Assassin, Aidonia, I-Octane, Bounty Killer and Vybz Kartel. More flavor is added by the likes of Baby Cham, Ace Hood and Waka Flocka as they join the party on the remix Go Harder. The resulting mash-up is piled high with energy, and everybody shines.

Tru Colors is well put together and delivers a refreshing curve to the dance-hall game, outshining Marshall’s previous releases.

— Biana Roach

Associated Press

Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming

McKenzie Funk

Apparently, if you look at climate change the right way, it looks like money instead of disaster — if you’re looking at it from a corporate boardroom, for example, and not, say, coastal Bangladesh.

Journalist McKenzie Funk spent six years traveling the world to report Windfall, his account of how governments and corporations — many of whom heavily contribute to the problem of global warming but balk at mandates to cut greenhouse gas emissions — are confronting climate change with engineering, money and lawyers.

Funk has written a fun book humanizing the problems of climate change, focused on the colorful entrepreneurs who see golden opportunities for indoor skiing, firefighters employed by insurance companies, seawalls and floating beaches for South Pacific resorts that otherwise might disappear.

He finds that, for those who can afford to adapt, things will be fine, probably. Then he investigates what will happen to everyone else — the Bangladeshis stuck on the wrong side of an Indian border fence, the Africans frantically trying to build a wall of trees to keep the Sahara from expanding, the island nations told to consider merging since they’re all losing land anyway.

Funk doesn’t waste time with climate change skeptics — there’s enough scientific evidence to back up the environmental effects he describes. Instead, he considers a thornier issue: the true cost of adapting to it.

— Jennifer Kay

Associated Press


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