I find it interesting that an author who lays a claim to having skill with coming up with useful analogies between the physics and everyday things can do so with such ineptness. It's particularly unfortunate in this case, because the book is actually enjoyable to read, and touting the analogies sets the reader up for disappointment.
That said, Chown does present an up-to-date view of the current understanding of the universe, as well as providing lots of interesting historical information, with respect to the development of our current understanding as well as the people involved. I learned the names of at least a half-dozen scientists that I'd never even heard of, and yet who were pivotal in advancing the art and science of physics. Not just minor players, but major contributors without whom science would not be where it is today.
In addition, Chown writes in a "voice" that is very pleasant and easy to read. His enthusiasm for the subject is obvious and helps engage the reader. I would definitely categorize the book as a "page-turner". :)
It's just too bad that the book is littered with analogies such as the one presented in the title. The book elaborates on that analogy in the leaf notes as well as in the very first pages, so I'm not giving anything away when I complain that comparing the miracle of one solid object being ejected from another solid object a tiny fraction its size (that's right...in spite of the book's title, the analogy in the book is actually about the truck being produced by the matchbox, not consumed) with the real-world phenomena of some non-material effect (electromagnetic radiation) being produced by some material object (electrons) smacks of sensationalism rather than illumination.
EM waves, in spite of their sometimes-particle-nature, aren't the same kind of "thing" as real things at all. It's barely sensible to make size comparisons in the first place, but to act like we should be surprised that those size comparisons show great disparity between physical things and non-physical things seems very contrived to me. It certainly doesn't seem to add anything to the discussion; I find it fascinating enough that an electron can emit energy in the form of EM radiation. There's no need to make up some awkward analogy to get me interested, and I felt a bit insulted after discovering what the analogy was.
Frankly, I think the book could be improved simply by omitting all the analogies. Few add much, if at all, and the rest do more IMHO to distract from the real meat of the text, which much of the time is meaty enough all on its own.
It's also unfortunate that, not once but twice, Chown manages to misquote Arthur C. Clarke, who wrote that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Chown insists on replacing the word "technology" with "civilization", even though doing so really does not change the overall understanding at all, never mind improve the point that Chown is making when he does so.
It makes me wonder how many other inaccuracies are in the book that I don't have the necessary experience to detect.
Nevertheless, there are some books that I feel like I've wasted my time when I've finished them, or which I cannot be bothered to finish at all. This book is definitely NOT one of those.
It's entertaining, informative even to those who already have a casual interest in the science of physics, and from a literary point of view, well-written. It's not the first, or even in the top ten books someone ought to read on the topic. But once you've gotten through the best, this book still has something to add, and can do so in a enjoyable way.