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Funny, thought-provoking, and terrifying -- but is it all true?
on January 2, 2014
I admit it, I'm a fan of the Cracked website. It's a hilarious website that holds nothing sacred, making fun of everything and anything under the sun, and delivers some mind-blowing facts in such a manner that it's hard not to laugh at them. It's irreverent sense of humor and its willingness to take on everything under the sun, from science to politics to pop culture, has made it a favorite among the denizens of the Internet, and it has hosted articles by a variety of authors, including Allie Brosh (author of "Hyperbole and a Half"), David Wong (author of "John Dies At the End"), and even former child star Mara Wilson. In short, it's one of the funniest and most varied websites out there.
Would a book put out by the people behind this website be anywhere near as good as the site itself? Yes and no, it turns out. The book, while still funny, is mostly a compilation of articles that's been printed on the website before, and most of them seem focused on the most shocking facts they can dig up. It's still told in Cracked's signature style, however, and is still good for some laughs.
Many of Cracked's articles are told in list form -- "Six Cute Animals That Are Capable of Destroying You," "Five Ways a Zombie Apocalypse Can Really Happen," "Five Facts About Jesus Too Shocking To Be Included In the Bible," etc. This is true for all the articles included in the book, and even the ones describing scientific happenings tend to be told in an informal, easily accessible style, using everyday language and hilarious comparisons. There is quite a bit of coarse language in the book, however, so those that are easily offended should probably avoid this book.
While the Cracked website tends to use photos and/or stock images to illustrate its articles, this book contains illustrations instead, done in a detailed but cartoony style that underline the inherent goofiness and humorous undertone of the book. This is neither better nor worse than the website's way of doing things -- it's different, but a nice change of pace, and the illustrations are fun.
What dragged the rating of the book down for me? It seems to me that they deliberately chose the most shocking and paranoid articles to fill this book, focusing on things like ways the world will end, the horrors of the food we eat on a regular basis, health myths that can kill you, etc. It's almost as if the editors were trying to give people nightmares. Also, other reviewers have pointed out a few goofs in the book's facts, and that bothers me. If the writers screwed up some of their facts, it immediately makes me wonder what else they got wrong and/or exaggerated for the sake of humor or shock value.
Also, as other reviewers have pointed out, much of this material is already available on their website. Seeing as I read a Kindle edition of this book, I feel that if I'm going to be reading something on a screen, I might as well go to the website and get it for free. Book compilations of things I can already find readily online are only worth buying, I feel, if there's plenty of new material along with the previously published. And given that Cracked has started publishing the "never before published" material from this book on its website, it comes dangerously close to making its own existence redundant.
Funny and even terrifying, but I'd take the "facts" within with a grain of salt. And I'd also avoid paying too much for it, as much of the material is available online for free.