Student review: Chemistry in Focus: A Molecular View of Our World

November 8, 2012

Editors: Nivaldo J. Tro

Edition: Fifth international

Publisher: Cengage Learning

Pages: 514

Price: £53.99

ISBN: 9781133104223

This textbook states that it is aimed at students who are not majoring in science but I feel it is definitely trying to encourage them to do so, as it focuses on the more interesting parts of chemistry.

The topics covered include a lot of A-level basics, such as naming compounds and calculating moles, which are explained well with good analogies; and energy, both non-renewable and green sources, including nuclear. There are also several chapters on the chemistry of drugs, food and household products - including really interesting things we all wonder about, such as the science behind hair products and painkillers. These are not detailed enough to be directly relevant to those studying for an examinable module in a degree, but are nevertheless a good introduction to degree-level chemistry.

The general layout is good; it's colourful and well spaced so it's easy to read and not intimidating. Boxed features provide additional information in case the reader is interested but do not distract from the flow of the main text. Each chapter includes a section on "The molecular revolution"; it's a good idea, and incorporates cutting-edge developments in the field to really spark students' interest.

Throughout the text, images present magnified views of everyday objects to show the molecular structure. It's an interesting feature that helps to link real life to chemistry, especially as most people would never think to look at these objects in such a way.

There are many self-check questions all through the book that help to consolidate the topics discussed, and answers are provided. At the end of each chapter there are 50-plus questions and problems (many of them new to this edition). Not all the answers are provided, but the ones that are show working, which is good, and there are so many questions it's easy to choose the ones with answers.

In covering a wide variety of topics, this book is better at establishing the foundation of chemistry knowledge and sparking general interest than being directly applicable to a specific module. Full of intriguing section headings such as "Curious about oranges" and "From poisoning to seasoning", this is a textbook aimed at inspiring a passion for chemistry.

Who is it for? Non-science undergraduates with an interest in sciences, and A-level chemistry students.

Presentation: Colourful and inviting.

Would you recommend it? Yes.

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