The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
Peter Leigh is a missionary about to leave his wife Bea here on earth and travel to Oasis, a distant planet to minister the native population. The Oasans are a devout group of recently converted Christians who want to learn about the Bible, The Book of Strange New Things. The journey will challenge Peter’s beliefs and character but is there a higher purpose for him being sent to Oasis?
First Impressions: Slow. Very slow.
Highlights: I liked reading about the Oasans and wanted Peter to integrate further into the society and develop his relationship further with Jesus Lover 5, just as I wanted to learn more about his predecessor. I found the company who sent Peter to Oasis intriguing with their purpose and selection of staff. I really wanted to read more of this too.
If I was an editor: I would lament how I just kept waiting for something to happen, some kind of revelation to turn the story on its head… but what you see is what you get for all 592 pages. The bulk of the story comprises long missives between Peter and his wife Bea discussing their love which is entwined in religious beliefs and this just wasn’t for me. I can certainly see the tenderness and great love story that mirrors Faber’s heartbreaking farewell to his wife but as fiction I just don’t enjoy this sort of thing. Also, I didn’t think the catastrophes on Earth that Bea writes about are necessarily as convincing as they could be, particularly when compared to other recently published dystopian stories such as The Ark.
Overall: Kept coming close to the verge of genuine intrigue…
The Book of Strange New Things: 3 stars
Monday 3 November 2014
Peter Leigh in Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things loc. 514
‘So where’s the dividing line for you?’ the woman rejoined. ‘Dogs? Horses? What if the restaurant was frying live kittens?’
‘Let me ask you a question,’ he said. Are you sending me to a place where people are doing terrible, cruel things to other creatures?’
‘Of course not.’
‘Then why ask me these sorts of questions?’
Under the Skin
A few years ago when I was a regular library user, I would often see this novel on the shelf when I browsed the fiction section. For some reason I never borrowed it despite being a huge Crimson Petal fan. Perhaps I worried it would be a bit too gritty urban realism for my liking. Without realising a film was about to be released, I borrowed this book from a colleague after her hearty recommendation. Unfortunately a film review spoiled the main revelation about Isserley for me…
Isserley spends most of her time driving. But why is she so interested in picking up hitchhikers? And why are they always male, well-built and alone?
First Impressions: Michel Faber uses a simple yet engaging writing style. I was hooked! What was Isserley’s purpose?
Highlights: I thought this was an incredibly original novel. I found the outcome for the hitchhikers Isserley collected disturbing and some of the detail has lingered with me. To say more may ruin the story for someone else… I thought the ending was fitting. I don’t know how any other resolution would have worked.
If I was an editor: I would wonder weather the catalyst for Isserley’s equivocation was substantial enough. I thought her change of opinion was fine; I just didn’t fully believe how she reached this point. Despite this, I was enjoying the story so much it didn’t really bother me.
Overall: I can’t recall reading anything like this before and wish I took a chance on it when I first saw it.
Under the Skin: 5 stars