In an attempt to find out, Mary Roach brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that life goes on after we die. She begins the journey in rural India with a reincarnation researcher and ends up in a University of Virginia operating room where cardiologists have installed equipment near the ceiling to study out-of-body near-death experiences. Along the way, she enrolls in an English medium school, gets electromagnetically haunted at a university in Ontario, and visits a Duke University professor with a plan to weigh the consciousness of a leech. Her historical wanderings unearth soul-seeking philosophers who rummaged through cadavers and calves' heads, a North Carolina lawsuit that established legal precedence for ghosts, and the last surviving sample of "ectoplasm" in a Cambridge University archive.
©2005 Mary Roach; (P)2005 Brilliance Audio
Like other reviewers, I have never written a review until this one, feeling compelled to warn others away from the audiobook presentation here.
The narrator reads in a ridiculous, campy, over-dramatic style, as if reading to pre-teens about Ramona Quimby or Sideways Stories from Wayside School.
When ending a paragraph where the author is dubious, I was almost expecting some sort of "wah wah waaaaaaaaah" sound effect to accompany my mental 'quick tight-zoom facial expression' akin to something seen on Laugh-In.
The narrator hams it up with teeth-gnashingly atrocious Indian accents (when speaking for Indians the author encounters along her journey) and completely TERRIBLE interpretation of the book and subject matter, I wish I could have my credit back.
I would much rather have read this in print. STAY AWAY from this audiobook presentation. TRUST ME. It is really REALLY bad.
If you want to hear someone tell an amazing story and do accents the right way, try David Sedaris.
I love Mary Roach. I hate this snarky, superior, judgmental narrator. She absolutely ruined this book for me.
This might have been the worst purchase I have made yet from Audible. I'd give it negative stars if that were possible. I still like the idea of the book and maybe it would have been a better "read" in print - perhaps it just didn't translate well into the spoken format. The horrendous narrator didn't help either (is there anything more annoying that an American trying to fake an India accent?). I'd love to ask for my credit back, but it died like everything else associated with this horrendioma. Save your credit, save your ears, save yourself and don't buy this audiobook.
This book was mildly interesting. The narrator seemed to be making a great effort to sound "ironic" or something. That was grating at times, but for the most part this wasn't a bad book at all. Not bad, but not good either.
Also, it seemed as though the first half was devoted almost exclusively to reincarnation, which wasn't quite what I expected. Oddly enough, that was probably the best part.
I really enjoyed Bonk, though, so I'll likely give Stiff a chance still.
I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.
I am working my way through everything Mrs. Roach has written and without exception her work is incredible. Here she approaches the afterlife (reincarnation, out of body experiences, psychics, mediums) with a sense of profound wonder and scientific curiosity. What separates her writing on the subject is her open minded approach to the subject matter. She is never callous and never cynical; she genuinely wants to know what's out there after death. On top of the scope of this book and its intrigue, there is her wonderful sense of humor which keeps the topic of death very light and fun.
First she follows a scientist who researches reincarnation in India, then she's off to history where serious scholars debated when the soul enters the body, then she's on to psychics and ectoplasm and how such acts were faked. Near the end she visits operating rooms, trying to understand out of body experiences. With each encounter she exams the evidence, and the lack thereof, and tries to draw reasonable conclusions. Naturally, there is no way she can prove anything. This book is about the journey. And what a journey.
Of particular interest is the time she enrolls in a British course that promises to teach her how to become a medium to the spiritual world. After that she goes back to America and tape records the site of the Donnor Party's disaster with several devices and listens to the static, trying to pick up voices. It's funny and wonderful to hear about these experiences.
And standing out here is the narrator. She is passionate and enthused about the material and brings her own sense of comedy to the proceedings. Really, Bernadette Quigley is a gem!
Get this book. Now. Right now. Why are you still reading? But be warned, you will end up spending all your future credits on the rest of Mary Roach's books (Stiff, Bonk, and Packing For Mars) and enjoying yourself the whole way!
I presently live in Central TX after spending 35 years in S FL. I was born and grew up in NW LA. I have been a reader my entire life.
I have thoroughly enjoyed every book written by Ms Roach...up to now. I have trouble figuring out which is worse: the book or the narrator. I can be engrossed by the most mundane information in a given book, but this one beat me. A lot of very old, very boring information, projections, and anecdotes; this was so, so terribly disappointing. The narrator appears at times to be trying to get some sort of interest stirred up, but even she can't seem to get past a fake , "Isn't this neat!?" Inflection; somewhat like an advanced class of students having to sit through an algebra one class just because the syllabus says that they have to.
I have not finished the book; one of only three in my life, and I am going to return it.
I am so, so disappointed.....
I love Mary Roach and was looking forward to this book. The story is great but the performance was distracting at times. I understand a desire for differentiation when telling a story but this was too much. Also, I found some of the accents borderline offensive. Especially the Indian and "cockney" readings. I found them to be very stereotypical and grating.
Buy the actual book, I would not recommend listening to this one. It's very hard to turn me off to a book because of the narration. I'm usually able to listen to narrators who aren't exactly my favorite. This one was bad.. Cringe worthy. I hate writing reviews, but this audiobook made me feel obligated to write one.
Mary Roach is fantastic, I love her work. However, a good chunk of this book is reused material from her earlier book Stiff. I still got a lot of new information from Spook, so generally it was worth the credit. I just feel a little cheated for spending a credit on a book, with a near-identical chapter or two, from a book I already purchased. I understand why this happened, just not thrilled about it.
I absolutely loved Stiff. I REALLY wish they had hired Shelly Frasier for this audiobook. Frasier was able to keep you engaged with the story, without sacrificing an unbiased tone and respect for the REAL people quoted in the book. I never had trouble following who was speaking in her narrations. She never resorted to goofy impressions of people.That's mainly what I couldn't get over and what made the book painful to listen to. Every time a new PERSON (not character, because this isn't FICTION!) was being interviewed, all I could hear was "this is my racist impression of an Indian accent," or "this is my cartoon caricature impression of a butchered British accent!" Also, the "I'm an eccentric weirdo/wacko" or "Because I'm a scientist, I sound like a dorky/nasally/socially awkward/outdated version of a high school nerd." The list goes on and on... If, somehow, Quigley had actually met these people being interviewed in the book, this might be PARTLY excusable. But I'm willing to bet she didn't. If this was a work of fiction, there would be room to make creative choices with a characters accent and personality... but it isn't.I'm not sure who is more at fault, the studio who might have insisted on certain performance choices or the narrator herself.. We really don't know. I don't want to assume full blame on Quigley. For all I know, there could have been someone telling her "it would be better if you did a more pronounced accent, so the listeners won't get lost or confused." or "Let's make this scientist REALLY nasally and annoying," or "lets make this person sound REALLY crazy."Somehow, the narration added a predominant biased, even though Mary Roach really tries to remain unbiased in her books.Mary Roach is also funny and clever in her books, but the Narration gives it this wacky sitcom-like delivery in every joke.. This causes every joke fall flat.
Overall, I'm still going to devour anything Mary Roach writes. I like her writing style, her curiosity and her sense of humor.
Please please don't download this book. The narrator is by far the worst I have ever encountered. Her "one woman show" ranges from terrible to downright terrible with each new scientific impersonation of what she thinks professionals sound like. I love Mary Roach and I loved this book. Do yourself a favor and never listen to it. Did nobody give this a once over before they sent it out?
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