Roach writes a droll account of the way human cadavers have been viewed throughout history and in our present day. Well, viewed, cut up, eaten, shot, dropped from hundred of feet, etc.
I don't have any problem with her book as a concept, writing about death in a humorous and curious slant. But I do have a few quibbles with the book.
One thing I found a little frustrating was that each chapter of the book could probably be it's own mini-book. The only overarching connection is that all of them will have human cadavers in them as the star (obviously, as the title suggests). But the topics completely alter. I could be bored of one subject and completely interested in another. And I just hate inconsistent books. I know it's no fault of the author, because hey, what else can you do? But that doesn't make me like the book even though I understand why she does this. Specifically, I thought the beginning chapters were fairly boring, probably because she had to go through the humdrum of explaining all the background of cadavers. But the chapters seemed to get more interesting as the book went on and a few topics that I've never considered appeared.
The beginning was boring because it was a detailed account of the history of human cadavers. And although she tries to lighten it up with her humor and commentary, it doesn't really get any more interesting. Especially because most of her commentary is speculation.
See? That's my main problem. My main problem is how she goes about finding and delivering the information in this book about human cadavers. I don't trust her ethos. I don't trust her sources and her very opinions-based source of information. She mentions Dr. Oz in the section about organ transplant (taken from brain-dead patients), and I know from other articles that the medical community is a little eh on him because of his fame in media and his physician-approval for some strange things that aren't scientifically proven. He also hasn't exactly been doing medical practice these days, if I recall correctly. So hum.
She treats her sources like an authority. I commend her for talking to all these experts and people in the industry of human cadavers. But I wish there were more hard facts, something more than a transcription of a conversation and inserted commentary.
I looked up a couple of these articles, a couple of the situations she mentions. I couldn't find anything on a couple of them. Perhaps she has wider sources out there, but ahh... The bit on Oscar Hernandez she writes about being sold to a medical school, she even mentions that she tried to contact him, but it didn't work. So yeah, it's in the footnotes, but not in the actual chapter that this story isn't confirmed. That website about eating the placenta as a placenta cocktail... it's the sketchiest site you can imagine. As if she's just fishing for material to use. As if you believe everything on the internet.
I don't doubt her dialogues. I believe that she talked to these people and this was what she got. I just don't quite believe everything she writes here. And I don't believe that I got the full story on each of the chapter's specific topic.
Perhaps it's because writing a book on cadavers is a difficult subject to find material, and therefore she has to use conversations as authority on the subject. But it doesn't help the fact that it feels like Roach is reaching for more topics to cover as the book goes on.
I do applaud the author for personally travelling to so many different places and talking to so many different people about and for this book. It's like investigative journalism almost. Unfortunately, I was hoping for more hard-core facts.
Two and a half star because it was somewhere in between "it was okay" and "I liked it". It was mostly interesting. But I just can't trust most of it.
Not really recommended to anyone unless you feel like reading an easy "medical" book for a med school interview or something like that. But there are definitely better "medical books" to read.