Spook by Mary Roach

Spook Cover

Caidyn will be in blue. Rating: 2/5
Chantel will be in purple. No Rating. (DNF)

I have to say, I didn’t like this one as much as I liked the other ones I’ve read by her. Last year, we read Bonk together, which was looking at some of the wacky research people have done about sex. Then, last year, I read Stiff on my own, which is a look into the life of a cadaver. This one didn’t quite measure up to those.

My main problem with the book was that it meandered too much. It tried to touch on all these things that had to do with the “afterlife” but they didn’t seem to fit together well. One chapter on reincarnation. Nothing really on research into heaven besides near-death experiences. There was a lot about mediums and spiritualists, huge movements in the world that really influenced it. But, it didn’t seem to make sense or add into an afterlife very well since those movements and the people involved have been largely debunked.

So, while I laughed and chuckled and learned some new stuff, this book just didn’t impress me like I had hoped it would.

I didn’t finish Spook like I had wanted to in March. It was a bad reading month where all I read was Harry Potter. However, I’m not too upset about not finishing Spook because it was a struggle for me to get through. I really enjoyed Bonk by Mary Roach and honestly, I look forward to reading more of her books based on that book. I think the issue here was the topic and I think for me, that’s ultimately why I couldn’t get into it.

I only read a few chapters but that was about fifty pages or so. The first chapter was about reincarnation which is a subject I find interesting, but nothing in the chapter was interesting to me. I found the chapter about the history of souls and the methods of trying to detect souls far more interesting.

This book’s subtitle is “Science Tackles the Afterlife” but death and the afterlife are two things that are impossible to prove with science. Science and afterlife, don’t mesh. For me, that was the main issue with the book. Roach could only speculate about the evidence that was presented to her and even then she was skeptical because it could easily be explained for one reason or another. There is nothing concrete about what happens after death and while I think what Roach did was ambitious, it didn’t work for me.  

Really, I agree with you. The book didn’t work. You can’t exactly prove the afterlife because it’s supernatural. And the research she used was mainly to show that there was no proof. Which didn’t work for the heart of the book. What would have worked better was if she just showed how odd the research has been to try and prove the afterlife. For me, that would have worked better because her whole journey down the medium and spiritualism path was far too random and didn’t fit her idea since it’s been largely discounted. If she had tackled it in the way I suggested, it would have been a far more compelling read. And she might have been able to include spiritualism.

 

Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Kathryn Harkup

Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

(Caidyn)

4/5

I was provided an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my rating. Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the advanced copy!

When I saw this book on NetGalley, I basically jumped at the chance to read it because I, admittedly, really enjoy Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I wasn’t raised watching the original Boris Karloff movie, but I loved Young Frankenstein and anything horror related. I was in high school by the time I read the book and was very impressed by how much I could still feel the impact of it.

In short, I love Frankenstein. So I had to read this once I saw this book was a thing.

The title, in a way, is a little misleading. It’s not just about the science that was going on at the time Frankenstein was written. That is a huge part of the book, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also focused on Mary Shelley’s upbringing, her affair and later marriage to Percy Shelley, her miscarriages, the political upheaval going on around her, and, of course, Enlightenment ideals with personhood and the advancement of the sciences. It’s quite a dense book, one that weaves in a very close look at the text and what Victor Frankenstein did with Mary Shelley’s life and the scientific advancements around her.

With all of those things going on, it could have come off as very dull and hitting me over the head with dates and people and facts to the point where I went cross-eyed and wanted the pain to end. But, I didn’t. I never felt too overwhelmed with names and dates weren’t a huge focus for me.

Harkup wrote this book to provide context to a story that is very well-known in today’s culture. She does that in many ways and you can see how they link into the story very easily. All in all, a well-done nonfiction book that accomplished what it aimed to do.