#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: Playing Dead

August 12, 2016 non-fiction 6 ★★★★

#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: Playing DeadTitle: Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud
Author: Elizabeth Greenwood
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: This was a fascinating story written in a very accessible way, perfect for fans of Mary Roach or Caitlin Doughty.

Inspired by a joking comment about faking her own death to avoid student loan debt, Elizabeth Greenwood stumbled into the world of death fraud. She meets people who find people; people who help others disappear; people who believe some famous dead people are just faking it; and people who have been caught after faking their own death. She also experiments with some of the steps necessary to fake her own death and considers what might inspire someone to take such a drastic step.

Picking up a nonfiction book on such a quirky topic, I couldn’t help going in with comparisons to Mary Roach in mind. Initially I was a little disappointed because this book wasn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as Mary Roach’s books, but by the end the author had won me over with her authentic voice and appropriately more thoughtful, serious tone. This actually ended up reminding me more of Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets In Your Eyes than Mary Roach’s Stiff, although I think fans of either author would find this accessible, off-beat book a great read.

There were a few little things that were still off with the tone though. Her comments on gender and a reference to “surviving a pseudocide attempt” (with pseudocide being common parlance for faking your own death) could have used a bit more tact. I also didn’t buy all her personal theories, such as the possibility that disappearing is more tempting in the lonely digital era. Despite these small flaws, I really enjoyed this book. The author told a fascinating story and she told it well. Her personal experiences, her musing on human nature, and her interviews were all engaging and entertaining. I would recommend this to any fans of nonfiction on quirky topics and specifically to fans of both Mary Roach and Caitlin Doughty.

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6 Responses to “#FuturisticFriday Review and Giveaway: Playing Dead”

  1. Shay

    I can always count on you to review an intriguing non-fiction book just as I am realizing my TBR is listing heavily to fiction. Hold placed 🙂

  2. Audra (Unabridged Chick)

    I maybe manage one non-fic book a year and this one might have to get on the TBR — I’m intrigued! Would love to know what you mean abt her comments on gender — something I’m sensitive about!

    • DoingDewey

      It was fascinating! To clarify about her comments on gender, I felt as though the explanations she offered for why more men have been caught faking their death than women depended on stereotypes in many cases. It was a small problem and definitely didn’t ruin the book for me 🙂

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