Sammy's Reviews > Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife

Spook by Mary Roach
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's review
Jun 14, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: b-the-good

I picked up Spook first because it's subject matter interested me and then I knew I had to buy it when I saw that the author was none other than Mary Roach who had written another interesting and intriguing book dealing with the physical body at death. Remembering how amusing and fascinating that read had been (I recommened it to several friends who have the same weird sense of humor and morbid curiosities I do) I had a feeling this book would not disappoint. And it didn't.

First off I'm going to give the same disclaimer Roach did: this is not a book written to debate various moral, religious, or philisophical beliefs. It's not meant to prove or disprove life after death, the existence of souls, or if heaven is out there. Rather it explores the various research that have been imployed to discover that. It's meant to shed light and simply learn. Okay, with that out of the way, I can safely begin!

If you had started reading Roach's other book, Stiff and just found it to icky to go through with it, have no fear, you'll be safer with this book. There are a few moments you're a little disgusted, but the amount of times you'll be laughing, shaking your head, or simply saying "wow" definitely out weigh any squick moments. It's Roach's sarcastic wit that really makes the book an enjoyable and fun read. Her footnotes (that really read more like sidenotes) are a real treat constantly scattered throughout. Her approach and way of writing non-fiction subject matter is dealt with in a really nice way that even those who cannot stand anything dealing with real life will find the book hard to put down. There's almost a constant narrative and a steady stream of thought going on, something I think is made possible because instead of just constantly regurgitating facts a lot of what she's writing about she went and experienced first hand. It's the personal twist on everything she writes about that makes it a lot more interesting and easy to get into.

There were the inevitable dry moments that were scattered throughout. Those mostly came about when Roach began giving the scientific explanations that were needed to explain the theories and research being done. I did feel kind of dumb reading some of this as it was way over my head some of the times, but Roach managed to remedy that by poking fun at her own ignorance. The fact that even the author was a little confused at times makes you feel a lot better for not getting it.

I don't feel the book really opened any new beliefs for me, or pointed out anything I hadn't thought of before. For me, the book more or less explored the actual studies that went into what different people think happen to us after we die. No new school of thought is introduced to us in this book. That still doesn't make this book old and nothing we haven't heard before. I actually learned quite a bit. Especially with how long people have actually been trying to find the soul (and the various places people have put it in the body), my knowledge of Spiritualism has been greatly increased, and the fact that there are funded studies still being done out there to research the soul and life after death is fascinating. If this sounds interesting to you, even in the slightest, you will really enjoy this book then. Even if it doesn't sound interesting, Roach's style and humor will probably pull you in anyway.
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Elizabeth I'm just glad to hear someone else shares my morbid sense of humor.

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