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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not funny anymore, 18 April 2014
This review is from: Packing for Mars (Kindle Edition)
I considered myself a bit of a Roach fan. Remember being wide-eyed and laugh-crying through her tragicomic Stiff (The Curious Lives of Cadavers) which was at once humorous and enlightening. That was a decade back. Then four years back, I have fond memories of reading Bonk on everyday tube and bus runs, of showing off the playful evocative book cover+title and the histories of experiments in understanding sexuality which got curiouser and curiouser. I was reserving Packing for Mars as a backup read after ploughing through a stinker recently. But surprisingly, this wasn't the balm I thought it would be.

Maybe it is my sense of humour or maybe Roach has turned too cutesy to be compelling, just found myself struggling after half the book. The scatological curiosities are courageous, but with Roach as the only constant character through tortuously connected chapters teeming with new answers, angles and scientists, the endless bookmarking of every expert quote or interaction with her "witty" quip made it a real slog.

On the upside, the initial chapters did pack a punch. I thoroughly enjoyed the way space station scientists, aeromedical specialists and biomechanical scientists have tried solving the physiological and psychological centrifuge that the human body is thrown into once in space. The way the organs take the hit, the way the tissue responds under influence of zero and excess gravity and the way the sanity of cosmonauts is yoked plus the idiosyncratic environment on these celestial bodies being simulated: all of this makes for great reading until Roach inserts herself like an unwanted joker. If only this was a more serious, straight-talking book. It's a pity as I do admire her kind of curiosity and had been a fan of the levity, which now just strikes as frivolous.
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