I would like to thank the many people of our class who spoke their opinion on this book because they helped me figure out why this is and is not a good book for certain people, and how it is seemingly pointless in my opinion.
Spook! What a misleading and very disappointing book; well to me of course. Others may feel differently about this book by Mary Roach that discusses the afterlife. If you are one who is interested with science, and reincarnation, then yes, this book is for you. She explores from reincarnation to ectoplasm to the weight of a soul, which she is stated to be 21 grams. But don’t let the topic bring your hopes up. It is an informative book about reincarnation, but Roach’s desire by writing this book was more of trying to entertain the reader, rather than informing them on a topic they may or may not be interested in. This can be shown by her humor throughout the book and how she tends to go off topic here and there. For people around the world who aren’t someone that enjoys the topic of the afterlife and reincarnation, then her humor and the whole book itself may come as very uninteresting and completely uninformative to you, as it did to me. In the introduction of her book, Roach herself tells the reader that this book is probably not for you if you’re not into the whole religion and afterlife thing, “This is a book for people who would like very much to believe in a soul and in an afterlife for it to hang around in, but who have trouble accepting these things on faith” (Roach, p. 14). I’m sure there are many, many people out there who would find this book interesting or possibly even entertaining, but I’m even surer there are many more people who don’t. The thing that throws this book off is how Roach is wrote this about a topic she has once never learned. Though she talks about her great travels and learning, she has no previous information about reincarnation or the afterlife. This means that Roach did make claims that weren’t entirely true, or completely false, and could have made up many more throughout the book that we may not have known about. One instance is when she says that William James accepted the reality of ectoplasm. The little I know about William James suggests that he had disdain for physical mediums. Though it could be true that he did accept ectoplasm, she could have at least referenced this claim. She constantly takes these acerbic claims towards people she doesn’t know, and most of them are dead.
Mary Roach explores only one topic of the afterlife in this book; reincarnation. What could have made this book better is if she talked about different religions and afterlife’s, and explored the truths and wonders of each one, instead of just exploring a single religion of the afterlife. She herself states what religion is:
“Religion says that your soul goes to heaven or possibly to a seven-tiered garden, or that your soul is reincarnated into a new body, or that you lie around in your coffin clothes until the Second Coming. And, of course, only one of these can be true. Which means that for millions of people, religion will turn out to have been a bum steer as regards the hereafter.” (Roach, p.13)
Why tell the reader what religion is, yet only explore one topic of it? The book could have been much more interesting if she explored the many religions of the world. Also, the book is very hard to follow. She is constantly bringing up new names and people and their different theories. It tends to confuse me and I’m sure other readers feel the same. When the book concluded, I was very disappointed with how Roach ended it. She never gave us a final verdict. She continues to ramble on about different theories and her conversations with all these people but never concludes how she feels about the afterlife. All she says is “What the hell. I believe in ghosts.” (Roach, p. 295). This tends