Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You by Dan Riskin

   Title: Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You
Author: Dan Riskin
Publisher: Touchstone Books

Expected Release:
March 4, 2014

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

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Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You is full of amazing, curious facts about the plant and animal worlds. And it’s set up in humorous way: Each chapter covers one of the seven deadly sins. I love that Dan Riskin includes YouTube links in many of the footnotes, so I could go see what he’s describing.

However, Riskin is really into the “meat robots” idea: the idea that the way we behave, the way we respond to one another, the way we feel, is all merely a result of our DNA. We are pre-programmed to respond in the ways we do, nothing more. But Riskin used the term “meat robot” so often, it grated on my nerves until I was sick of hearing about it.

This concept creates a conflict for the author as a new, first-time father, and this becomes the foundation upon which the book is built: “Even though it feels like magic when Sam . . . looks me in the eyes and smiles, it’s all just biology. I know that no matter what it felt like in those first six minutes, the emotions I felt the day he was born were really no more special than the hormones that guide a bird through building her nest.”

I appreciate that Riskin often brings up the ways in which the word “natural” have been twisted and turned into a false ideal, as if it always means “healthy” or “beneficial” or “safe.” I also like that he points out the fallacy in using examples found in nature as a justification for human behavior.

Riskin is obviously very passionate about his topic, and I picked up some fascinating trivia while reading it. However, Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You fell a little flat for me.

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