I was initially quite excited to read Mother Nature Is Trying to Kill You because from the way the synopsis made it sound, it was supposed to be about all the devices (be they animal, weather, disease, etc.) that nature has waiting around every corner to lead to your possible demise. After I got past the introduction, in which the author describes the experience he had with a botfly larvae living in his scalp, it became clear that this wasn’t really what the book was about at all.
The author lays out each of his chapters with a theme. The theme is “the seven deadly sins”, so there are chapters on greed, lust, envy, and so on. Within each chapter, the author showcases several animal behaviors that reflect on the specific chapter title. For example, in the chapter on lust, the reader is given an account of how female pintail ducks are forcefully mated with by the males of the species…which takes less time than it does for you to blink your eyes.
While I was, in the beginning, disappointed that the book was not about what I had hoped, the tales of each species the author presented drew me in and I often found myself checking Wikipedia or YouTube to see for myself what the book was describing.
The overall theory that Dan Riskin is attempting to prove is that all animal life is basically driven by what their DNA has programmed them to do; whether it be scrounging for food, finding a mate, or even loving your child, every animal is acting on instinct and only looking our for their individual best interests–even (and especially) humans. He also makes a valid point in that the use of the word “natural” to describe something doesn’t always make it better or right. If humans were to act as some of the rest of the natural world does, our mere existence would be chaos.
The main thing that bothered me is that throughout the entire book the author was working toward, and successfully proving, his theory, only to have it completely discredited by his own thoughts in the end. Humankind does not want to think it’s on the same level as the rest of the world’s animals, and while we are in the most basic of ways, it’s the ways that we’re not that are the most important. It’s in our hands to change the world, and since we are the only creatures that have the awareness that we can affect the planet, it’s our duty as well.
Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Touchstone. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.