Book Review

Book Review: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies of a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Non-fiction
Length: 339 pages
Author: John Carreyrou
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Release Date: May 21st, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of a multibillion-dollar startup, by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end in the face of pressure and threats from the CEO and her lawyers.

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood tests significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

For years, Holmes had been misleading investors, FDA officials, and her own employees. When Carreyrou, working at The Wall Street Journal, got a tip from a former Theranos employee and started asking questions, both Carreyrou and the Journal were threatened with lawsuits. Undaunted, the newspaper ran the first of dozens of Theranos articles in late 2015. By early 2017, the company’s value was zero and Holmes faced potential legal action from the government and her investors. Here is the riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a disturbing cautionary tale set amid the bold promises and gold-rush frenzy of Silicon Valley. 


Y’ALL. I finished this book and my jaw was still dropped. I have a hard time fathoming how people can be this self-involved in making money to never apologize. Never fully realize that they were messing with people’s lives. And absolutely refusing to accept help and take the opportunities to turn around their company.

It was fascinating reading about account after account of people becoming disillusioned with Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. There was no way anything they were doing was right. While I thought the technology sounded unique and promising, everything after that was torture to read. Honestly (and especially because I read enough fantasy and sci-fi) this device sounded something straight out of a sci-fi book. An awesome futuristic idea but nothing that is possible at this time.

Holmes and Balwani were malicious, destructive and incredibly hard to deal with. I felt so bad for all of these employess who wanted to make an honest living (okay, most of them, some of them clearly didn’t mind being involved). It was oddly fascinating watching Holmes work her magic on everyone around her. Garnering money, adding people to her board, and convincing everyone around her she, and Theranos, was the real deal.

I loved the way the book was put together and thought that Carreyrou (the original Wall Street Journal reporter when this story broke) kept to the facts. He worked hard to make sure he had the facts correct and that he wanted to proceed to help those who had used the faulty technology. The only portions I had a hard time reading were about the actual chemical breakdown of the machines. Since I personally don’t have a chemical background it was hard for me to understand the exact pieces of this, but I do like that this is included because it helps explain everything they were trying to do and how they were actually doing it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Non-fiction about business
  • Language: a little strong language
  • Trigger warnings: details on how someone committed suicide

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