Reading Level: All Ages
Size: 6 hours and 36 minutes (320 pages)
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Audiobook from Audiblle.com
Rating: 4/5 stars
Randall Munroe is the creator of the popular webcomic xkcd. Awhile ago he started a new section on his site called “What If”. This book is a compilation of the What If posts from his site. They are funny, and sometimes absurd, scientific answers to strange questions people post to him.
I listened to this as an audiobook. It is narrated by Wil Wheaton and Wil does a great job narrating it. For me it is easier to listen to non-fiction books on audiobook (it just holds my attention better). However, I also own the book in hardcover and being that Munroe is a cartoonist there are a lot of cool pictures in the hardcover book that are funny and help to explain things. So while the audiobook was very well done and engaging, keep in mind you aren’t getting to see the funny drawings.
This is the type of book that makes a good coffee table book and is fun to read one scenario at a time. When I listened to a whole bunch of scenarios in a row it all started to blur together a bit. It provides answers to questions like “How long would you live if your cells stopped dividing?” and “What would happen if the moon went away?” The book reminds a bit of the Mythbusters TV show because Munroe always had to take the scenario to the point of ultimate destruction or explosion (which is hilarious and highly entertaining).
The book is written in a very humorous and snarky tone (which Wheaton reads perfectly in the audiobook). There are sections throughout called “Weird and Worrying Questions from the What If Inbox” that are also hilarious. These sections feature bizarre and disturbing questions that Munroe provides brief and sarcastic answers to. For example “How many cats yowling would it take to bring down a fighter jet?”
Overall this is a humorous scientific read that provides scientific answers to bizarre questions. It reminds at times of the Mythbusters TV series in that nearly every scenario is taken to the point of giant explosions or mass destruction. I would definitely recommend to fans of the Mythbusters TV series, fans of xkcd, and fans of snarky science humor.