Tuesday, 9 December 2008

What does the Moon Smell Like? – Eva Everything ***

Trivia is ever-popular and this book combines science and trivia in a quiz-like format, written by the exotically named presenter of Discovery Channel’s Brain Café, Eva Everything. There are lots of fun science facts, put across in 151 quizzes which range from a single question to a handful on topics ranging from Einstein’s brain to mad scientists. Each question has four possible answers and, as you might guess, wherever possible, the real answer is not the most obvious one.
This isn’t a bad book by any means, but it’s difficult to know quite what to do with it. It’s not easy to read through, in part because of the idiotic decision to print the answer pages upside down. It’s idiotic because they’re always on the back of the question page, so you can never accidentally see the answer until you’re ready anyway – and it just makes the book almost impossible to read through for pleasure. On the other hand, only the desperate geeks are really going to use this as an actual ‘Please sir, please! I know the answer!’ quiz.
To make matters worse, I found the subjects often a relatively little interest. Maybe they were chosen just because the answers were strange, but I don’t really care that much about the founding of Mercedes cars or when astronauts played ball on the Moon (well that was worth a few billions dollars, then).
In the end, this feels like a good idea that hasn’t quite worked in practice. However, don’t despair. Good gift books are hard to come by, and the advantage of a gift book is you don’t actually have to try to read it, just to have something that sounds intriguing, which this book does. Genuinely would make a good gift, but I probably wouldn’t buy it for myself.
Oh, and the answer to the book’s title? Apparently burned gunpowder according to astronauts, but nothing much at all back here on Earth.
Paperback:  
Review by Jo Reed

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