Top critical review
26 people found this helpful
Good, but not great!
on 19 November 2003
As a scientist who uses human cadavers in my teaching and research I was excited when I saw this book. Death, and anything associated with it, is such a taboo subject that to have an aspect of it tackled well would've been great. Indeed the mystery associated with cadavers and what happens to them is such that it probably exacerbates the suffering of the bereaved and probably puts off potential body/organ donors! Mary Roach has gone a long way to enlightening the general public to these mysteries and comes up with some interesting facts, but also some not so useful comments. For example, she suggests that the fate of a human remains, disposed of in convential ways, is so ghastly that the alternative of being used in research and educations is much more appealing! Not the greatest thing to have quoted at you when one is involved in dissection! But my main critisism is her writing style (it's interesting that she writes for GQ magazine-says it all really!). Much is made of her use of humour within the text, but as a British reader I found her 'witty comments' obtrusive at best, and irritating at worst. The asterisked notes at the foot of the page spoiled the flow of the writing and when they were a cheap method of telling a gag it just got on my nerves! I suspect that this sort of humour goes down well in the USA but not so well with this reader here in the UK. It just wasn't funny so leave it out! On a more academic note, a full list of references would've been helpful.
This is a reasonable book about a fascinating subject but it could've been done better!