At first, admirers of Michel Faber's international bestseller The Crimson Petal and the White might find this leap from Victorian London to a planet occupied by an indigenous race a bit dizzying, but as they settle it, they will realize that this is no feeble sci-fi imitation, it is a thought-provoking novel about a missionary and his wife caught in troubling human dilemmas. Certain to attract major reviews.
The Book of Strange New Thingsby Michel Faber
It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea./b>/i>
A monumental, genre-defying novel that David Mitchell calls "Michel Faber’s second masterpiece," The Book of Strange New Things is a masterwork from a writer in full command of his many talents.
It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.
Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us.
Marked by the same bravura storytelling and precise language that made The Crimson Petal and the White such an international success, The Book of Strange New Things is extraordinary, mesmerizing, and replete with emotional complexity and genuine pathos.
From the Hardcover edition.
This latest book from Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White) begins as a pedestrian story about a missionary and then gets really interesting. After an emotional leave-taking from his wife, Bea, protagonist Peter is strapped into a hyperspace vehicle bound for a distant planet. Under the auspices of USIC, a corporation secretly colonizing the planet Oases, Peter is tasked with serving the planet's indigenous population. A group of these cloaked humanoid beings has a hunger for the teachings of Jesus and the Bible, which they call "The Book of Strange New Things," and cultivating them is a priority because USIC needs the food they provide for a barren Earth. Peter rapidly goes native and bonds with the aliens, though at the expense of his long-distance relationship with Bea. He learns the secret behind the aliens' love of Jesus and nearly dies in the process. VERDICT The grim plight of these enigmatic beings' lives explains their attachment to the Christian message, which puts it in a different light. Maria Doria Russell's The Sparrow meets the loneliness of Stanislaw Lem's Solaris; recommended for lovers of thought-provoking sf. [See Prepub Alert, 4/14/14.]—Henry Bankhead, Los Gatos Lib., CA
An NPR Great Read of 2014
A New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014
Selected as one of the Independent’s Books of the Year 2014
An io9.com Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of 2014
An ABA Indie Next Pick
A Fresno Bee Favorite Book of 2014
A Guardian Writers Pick of 2014, Selected by Jackie Kay
Selected as one of Kansas City Star’s 100 Best Books of 2014
Selected by Financial Times’ David Mitchell as a Favorite Book of 2014
A Book Riot Best Book of 2014
A BookBrowse Top Book of 2014
Goodreads.com Best Book of the Month
A Kirkus Must-reads
A Barnes & Noble Fiction Selection, Top Books for the Holiday Season
A ShelfAwareness Best Books of 2014 Honorable Mention A Minnesota Public Radio Best Books of 2014 Selection Publishers Lunch news editor Sarah Weinman’s best of the year list, honorable mention
A Rick Riordan Favorite Read of 2014
A PopMatters Best Books of 2014
“Defiantly unclassifiable. . . . The Book of Strange New Things squeezes its genre ingredients to yield a meditation on suffering, love and the origins of religious faith. . . . Faber reminds us there is a literature of enchantment, which invites the reader to participate in the not-real in order to wake from a dream of reality to the ineffability, strangeness, and brevity of life on Earth.” —Marcel Theroux, The New York Times Book Review (cover review)
“Provocative, unsettling.” —People
“Profoundly moving. . . . . A vivid portrait of a distant galaxy, reinforced by a narrative that is deeply, emotionally evocative.” —USA Today
“Elegant. . . . A lovely, thought-provoking meditation on love and faith and the never-ending mysteries of the natural world.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Eerie and ambitious. . . . Faber is a genuinely gifted storyteller and his novel gains resonance and tidal force in its final third.” —The New York Times
“Faber illustrates, movingly, the impossibility of adequate communication in the face of life-changing experience. . . . Rich and memorable.” —The New Yorker
“The Book of Strange New Things will blow you away…Powerful… Even beyond its power as a story of cross-cultural encounters, and the questions it makes you ask about the place of humanity in the universe, Book of Strange New Things is also worth reading as a great personal story of a man and his wife, as their relationship faces the ultimate test..Fantastic.”—io9.com
“Fascinating…Poignant…Remarkable… Despite its bizarre setting and all the elements of an interplanetary opera, this is a novel of profound spiritual intimacy…. I relished every chance to cloister myself away with “The Book of Strange New Things”…[It] offers exactly what I crave: a state of mingled familiarity and alienness that leaves us with questions we can’t answer — or forget.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post
“One of the best books I’ve ever read. . . . It’s a love story, and the last line destroyed me.” —Emily St. John Mandel, The Millions
“Faber's great strength, trotted out right from the opening pages — this ability to write believable, lovely, flawed and inept characters. To animate his creations by exposing their great loves and human frailties, and to make us want, somehow, to follow along behind them…Faber tells a beautifully human story of love, loss, faith and the sometimes uncrossable distances between people.”—NPR.org, “All Things Considered”
“Harrowing, wrenching. . . . A bold and unexpected work of beauty. . . . Faber’s sincerity keeps The Book of Strange New Things honest, and his talent steers him away from cliché.” —The New Republic
“A wonderful adventure story, a quasi-science fiction tale and a probing examination of a marriage. . . . A truly strange and wonderful novel. . . . Please read Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things. You won't regret it.”—Cleveland Plain-Dealer
“[A] masterpiece” —Cosmopolitan
“I would almost like to say, ‘Read this book,’ and leave it with that. Because its charms, and they are considerable, are so tied with discovering what the heck is going on. That challenges a reviewer, because almost anything I tell you will spoil a moment of discovery…the writing is such a pleasure.”—Dallas Morning News
“A bracing, rewarding read.”—Kansas City Star
“[Faber] approaches this interplanetary saga as an expert genre traveler. . . . [His] potent new amalgam of sci-fi and spirituality puts him within rocket range of David Mitchell.” —New York
“Intergalactic in scope.” —Reuters
“This is a big novel . . . but the reader is pulled through it at some pace by the gothic sense of anxiety that pervades and taints every element. . . . Astonishing and deeply affecting.” —The Guardian
“A novel so full of ideas, so charged by plot, so odd and wonderful, and written with astonishing emotional precision. There are some novels that come along every now and again, when writing a review seems superfluous and all one wants to do is to grab someone by the shoulders and say: “Look, just read the damn thing!” This is one of them. Michel Faber always has had an astonishing ability to make the strange believable and the alien real, but in this thoughtful, deeply moving page-turner, he excels himself.” —The Scotsman
“A hugely serious story about the testing of religious faith. . . . When [Peter’s] spiritual crisis does indeed hit it is as gripping as any thriller. . . . A work of originality and insight.” —The Times
“A moving human drama disguised as a gripping science fiction tale. . . . Magnificently bold and addictive. . . . A book quite unlike any other I've ever read.” —The Sunday Times
“Faber’s new novel grapples with [what it means to be human] in unusually direct terms. . . . The fascination of [his] prose style is its lack of sensationalism. His voice on the page is serene and oddly innocent. . . . One might call The Book of Strange New Things sci-fi, speculative fiction, literary fiction—or maybe just welcome it, thankfully, with a ‘Never before now.’” —The Independent (UK)
“Contemporary literary fiction rarely provides a Victorian-length magical mystery tour along the trail of breathtaking narrative…[yet] Michel Faber’s vast new storytelling extravaganza, The Book of Strange New Things, is that kind of novel. It embodies a wondrous and sorrowful experience you don’t just read, but live.”—Toronto Star
“Spellbinding, heartbreaking and mind-bending. . . . This is very much a book that rewards re-reading; its subtle echoes and wisps of allusion reverberate across the text. . . . The Book Of Strange New Things is Faber’s strongest, most plangent and most intellectually gleeful novel. It is affecting as much as it is challenging. . . . Bold, brave, brilliant. . . . It’s also, by the way, the most wonderful love story.” —Scottish Review of Books
“Brilliant, and disquieting. . . . Faber’s novel is entirely true to itself and wonderfully original. It makes a fine update to Walter M. Miller Jr.’s Canticle for Leibowitz, with some Marilynne Robinson-like homespun theology thrown in for good measure. . . . A profoundly religious exploration of inner turmoil.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“A marvelously creative and intricate novel, thought-provoking and arresting.” —Booklist
“A monumental, genre-defying novel over ten years in the making, Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things is a masterwork from a writer in full command of his many talents.”—Book Browse, Selected as a Top Book of 2014
“The book wears its strong premise and mixture of Biblical and SF tropes extremely well.”—Publishers Weekly
“At the heart of The Book of Strange New Things is one question: Whom—or what—do you love, and what are you willing to do for that love (or not willing)? The result is a novel of marvel and wonderment with a narrative engine like a locomotive.” —Yann Martel
“In my opinion The Book of Strange New Things is Michel Faber’s second masterpiece, quite different to The Crimson Petal and the White but every bit as luminescent and memorable. It is a portrait of a living, breathing relationship, frayed by distance. It is an enquiry into the mountains faith can move and the mountains faith can’t move. It is maniacally gripping. It is vibrant with wit and overcast with prescience and social commentary. Like all superlative science fiction, its real subject is that most mystifying of alien species, humanity. I didn’t so much read The Book of Strange New Things as inhabit it, the way you inhabited that handful of books which, as a kid, first got you hooked on this wonderful drug known as reading.” —David Mitchell
“Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things certainly lives up to its title. Faber, as he showed in Under the Skin, does strangeness brilliantly. I can’t remember being so continually and unfailingly surprised by any book for a long time, and part of the surprise is the tenderness and delicacy with which he shows an emotional relationship developing in one direction while withering in another. I found it completely compelling and believable, and admired it enormously.” —Philip Pullman
“Weird and disturbing, like any work of genius, this novel haunted me for the seven nights I spent reading it, and haunts me still. A story of faith that will mesmerize believers and non-believers alike, a story of love in the face of the Apocalypse, a story of humanity set in an alien world—The Book of Strange New Things is desperately beautiful, sad, and unforgettable.” —David Benioff
“Intriguing…both painful and compelling. And when you find out the answers to some of the novel's central mysteries . . . Well, I won't give anything away, but the answers pack a punch.”—Rick Riordan
A long-awaited—and brilliant and disquieting—novel of faith and redemption by Scotland-based writer Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White, 2002, etc.). Eschatological religion and apocalypse make a natural fit. Throw in a distant planet that's not populated by L. Ron Hubbard acolytes, and you have an intriguing scenario prima facie. Peter (think about the name) is a minister who, aspiring to be useful, signs up for a stint, courtesy of one of the world's ruling corporations, on far-off Oasis, a forbidding chunk of rock on which the crew of the Nostromo, of Alien fame, wouldn't be out of place. "This was not Gethsemane: he wasn't headed for Golgotha, he was embarking on a great adventure." So he thinks, allowing for his habit of casting events in religiously hallucinogenic terms. The natives are shy—and who wouldn't be, given the rough humans who have come there before Peter—but receptive to his message, which deepens as Peter becomes more and more involved with his mission. Trouble is, things aren't good back on Earth: His wife, with child, is staring what appear to be the end times in the face, even as life on Oasis, as one human denizen snarls, turns out to be "sorta like the Rapture by committee." Is Peter good enough to make it through the second coming? He's lived, as we learn, a fully charged sinner's life before becoming saintly, and he's just one crisis of faith away from meriting incineration along with the rest of the unholy; good thing the alien-tongued aliens of Oasis will put in a good word for him, even though their tongue may not be entirely comprehensible. Faber's novel runs a touch long but is entirely true to itself and wonderfully original. It makes a fine update to Walter M. Miller Jr.'s Canticle for Leibowitz, with some Marilynne Robinson-like homespun theology thrown in for good measure. What would Jesus do if he wore a space helmet? A profoundly religious exploration of inner turmoil, and one sure to irk the Pat Robertson crowd in its insistence on the primacy of humanity.
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Meet the Author
MICHEL FABER is the internationally bestselling and critically acclaimed author of The Crimson Petal and the White, Under the Skin—shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award—and several other books. Faber has won many short story awards and his writing has appeared in Granta, The O. Henry Prize Stories, among others. He lives in Scotland.
- A remote cottage in Ross-shire, Scottish Highlands
- Date of Birth:
- April 13, 1960
- Place of Birth:
- The Hague, Netherlands
- Melbourne University
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In a distant future, USIC, a shadowy, mysterious corporation wielding a great deal of power, has recruited Peter Leigh to leave his home in England and travel to the far-off world of Oasis, there to serve as a minister of the faith to the native population. Excited for the opportunity, Peter leaves home and wife and cat behind; eager to begin his missionary work, he sets out to meet the planet’s native inhabitants. Learning that they have already heard the Word and are anxious to hear more, Peter becomes involved in creating booklets for his new congregation with the Scriptures written in English words that the Oasans can pronounce. Meanwhile the Oasans have committed to memory many verses from the Bible, which they persist in calling The Book of Strange New Things. The human settlement serves as the base to which Peter returns after sojourns with the native population. It is manned by a diverse group of people whose interactions with the Oasans are strangely limited. Between the reality of Peter’s life on Oasis and letters shared via a form of interstellar e-mail between Peter and his wife, Beatrice, the story begins to unfold. As Peter becomes more and more absorbed in his work with the Oasans, his connection with the native inhabitants grows stronger. At the same time, he finds himself less able to relate to the escalating chaos at home or to the concerns Beatrice shares with him in her messages. Before, they experienced things together; now their experiences have become vastly different and their physical separation suddenly seems to create an insurmountable rift in their mutual unanimity. This is a book that defies categorization. It is part science fiction, part dystopian apocalypse; a book that keeps from being particularly religious despite the central character’s predilection for expressing all things Biblically. This is a book about the breaking down and the building up of relationships, a book about faith, love, despair, conviction, commitment, belief, hope. Replete with compelling characters and resonating themes, the beautiful descriptions will haunt the reader’s memory. Each page reverberates with nuances, with insights, with revelations, with words that speak in unimagined complexities. “The Book of Strange New Things” is an incredible, not-to-be-missed tour de force that impresses itself in such a way as to stay with the reader long after the final page has been turned. Highly recommended.
Quirky, hypnotic, and nerve-wracking by turns, The Book of Strange new things left me in a bit of a manic daze. Michel Faber’s newest novel is a genre hop – one moment sci-fi, the next near-future dystopian, and all the while solid literary fiction. The author shows us two related but disparate realities: through the letters of Beatrice we see the disordered planet Earth, and through the eyes of Peter we see the strange and somewhat idyllic planet Oasis. The known and unknown vividly presented. I felt Bea’s building horror of her life in a rapidly changing England: the exhaustion of her work as a nurse, the deprivations, the destruction of both resources and humanity. In the next heart-beat I felt Pastor Peter’s dazed confusion as he navigates between his two realities on Oasis: the sterile artificial colony of USIC, and the primitive, agrarian lifestyle of the Oasan beings. And all the while, all through the novel, it is so utterly believable. I was irritated and frustrated with dopey, immature Peter, and anxious for the capable yet beleaguered Bea. This book is for anyone: it goes beyond hardcore sci-fi or dystopian, and is just good reading. (As a side note: I love when author’s have fun with character-naming. After reading The Book, I learned that most of the colonizing characters’ surnames were based on Marvel comic book artists and inkers. And though I haven't quite decided on the inspiration for Beatrice, I think Peter is pretty obvious.) Sincere and hearty thanks to Hogarth/Crown (Random House) and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this novel.
The book itself is amazing, just amazing. I couldn't stop reading it. The details of the other world seemed so real, and the challenges faced by the characters who inhabit that world so multifaceted and tangible, it was hard to separate from the story. Our protagonist is good enough, we believe him, he is honorable; in short he keeps faith with the reader even as he nurtures faith in other beings. And in that way, we are able to truly experience an amazing story. Michel Faber has once again created a complete environment in which the reader can feel, smell and almost hear the ambient conditions that are so intricately described. The story itself moves well, neither entirely predictably nor without reason. I might have wished for an ending later in time, but that suggests I really just didn't want the story to end. I am an avid fan of the author, having read and 'inhabited' his previous work, The Crimson Petal and the White. Having honestly had no prior interest in the topics covered in that work, I was not deterred by the topics of this one: namely Christianity, alien world religious conversion attempts, end of Earth scenarios and interstellar marriage strain. I won an ARC from Goodreads and felt incredibly lucky. And the book itself is beautiful, with cover art and gilded pages reminiscent of illuminated Bibles. Fantastic!
I liked Ender's Game. But, I thought Orson Scot Card's Speaker For The Dead was his masterpiece. This book by Michel Faber is another masterpiece in the same way. I'm not a Christian, but take my advice, Christian or not....this is a great read for a human being.
I would always like to know how long an ebook is before I buy it. This book is 507 pages long, with 6 pages of miscellanea at the end. So I'm sure I will get my money's worth! I will back with a review soon.
Interesting topic, but SO much not explained. What sort of technology was the "jump?" How was it discovered? USIC was la mystery, which was partially understandable, but also made the whole plot less interesting. Kept my interest, but was also very, very depressing. I read the last 50 pages as fast as possible, just to come to the end so that I could breathe again. Granted, an ending does not have to be happy or completely resolved, but despair was not a good feeling at the end. Still, Faber ihas a great imagination and way with words.
Not complex theologically to keep my attention.
Interesting story that often gets bogged down in detail, but I like books with a conclusion unless there will be a sequel.
(*DISCLAIMER: I RECEIVED THIS BOOK FOR FREE AS PART OF THE BLOGGING FOR BOOKS PROGRAM, IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. NO OTHER FORM OF COMPENSATION WAS GIVEN, AND ALL OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS REVIEW ARE MY OWN.) Introduction: First of all, I want to apologize to my readers. Which means you, if you’re reading this. Which you are. Hopefully. So, I apologize. I wanted to be able to finish this book. I tried. I couldn’t. And with the deadline for this review coming up, I thought it best that I open up and explain to you why I left this book on the shelf and won’t be opening it up again any time soon. Well, here goes. The Plot: I haven’t yet read a book with this premise. I mean, a Christian minister traveling to a newly discovered planet to share the gospel? It sounded interesting, that’s why I picked up this book. It was interesting, for a time. The plot, from what I read, seemed well-executed. Characters: This is one of the problems I had with the story. I didn’t enjoy these characters. I sympathized with them. They were textbook examples of greatly developed characters. However, I just didn’t connect with them. The wife came off as a little too whiny for my taste, and the protagonist would come off as either clueless or rather snippy. Writing Style: The prose of this novel was of the best aspects about it. It was gorgeous. It flowed. Of course, there were no spelling/grammar mistakes that I could detect. Also, the formatting was flawless. Overall: I did not fall in love with this book. I doubt I will finish it anytime soon. If I end up reading it all the way to the end, I’ll update this review, and let ya’ll know. However, I won’t give this book more or less than three stars, as I can’t justify giving it a bad rating because of my own ineptitude. Recommendations: —16+ sci-fi fans who are looking for an interesting read. —Readers who are experiencing withdrawals after finishing “The Sparrow”.
Reading this book turned into a chore. I kept trying to see if I would get hooked but gave up half way through. Truly painful, it is now residing in my waste paper basket.
“These three remain,” says St. Paul in Corinthians, “faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” It’s a famous Biblical statement, filled with passion and meaning. But it also might summarize the joy of reading Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things, where these three most truly do remain. Faith hope and love are never simple, of course, and the author doesn’t flinch from tackling each with haunting honesty. The complexities and depths of foreign soil, wide breadths of alien concepts and human misunderstandings, and a moveable mountain of ideas fill the pages, all perfectly measured against great characters and pitch-perfect dialog. (Even the rendering of foreign words is beautifully real.) The science of this tale set in earth’s near future rings as true as the best of any in “hard” science fiction. The love of the protagonists is as beautifully and convincingly portrayed as in any contemporary literary masterpiece. Questions of faith are as deep and engaging as those in any real discussion of this world’s divisions. And the combination of all these factors is simply wonderful: lyrically written in convincingly varying styles (after all, one protagonist would much rather speak than write), wonderfully described with a wealth of powerful allusions, and perfectly plotted with a story arc that simply won’t let go. If you haven’t read spoilers yet, or haven’t studied the back of the book, then don’t. This novel unfolds convincingly and quietly, affording the un-knowing reader all the delight of discovery, and the joy of learning “strange new things” at a pace that’s perfectly balanced between fast and slow, never forced, never weighty despite the weight of the concepts to be found, and never overwhelming in its internal or external musings. The author writes with a joyfully light touch, even in the depths of darkness. And this novel must surely be one of the best I’ve ever read. Disclosure: Blogging for Books provided this book to me for free in exchange for an honest review.
To a raised Christian, much of the narrative is trite. The plot device -- missionary to an alien species -- ended with a whimper, not a bang. And as far as illuminating the nuances of human relationship, at best this was a meh. Bottom line: not worth 500 pages; this could have been an awesome short story.
This is the first time I have read Michel Faber, and I must say, his novel was unexpected in all the right ways. It is a novel of faith, particularly Christian, that actually respects those who believe. It is about the dehumanization of colonization. It is about marital love.. It is about hope when there would seem to be no reason for any. A very good read that, like the best science fiction, is really about the here and now.
Worth the read
I might or might not be able to capture what this book is about in a sentence or two. The book's about faith, relationships, and our need for a book--any kind of text, really--of strange new things. It's that book--those texts--that might save us, since our flesh is ultimately unsaveable. Peter's been saved by it already , perhaps, but there's no where to run from the destruction we face. Not to Oasis, and not back on earth. This one will leave you in some despair at our condition--and I think that's what's Faber's intention. But if good writing can be a momentary stay against despair, then this book might help.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber is a uniquely new novel: a hybrid of science fiction, drama and spirituality. Faber is a talented writer whose vividly descriptive words transport trans-port the reader into surreal new worlds beyond the imagination. The surreal imagery of the alien universe with its thick, moist atmosphere, the sideways dancing rain and the green, honeydew tinged water leaves the reader wanting more and more. The scenes depicting his recovery from space travel are almost believable. The passage of time is surreal and disorientating- making this book an authentically styled account that addresses the "what if" questions if one were to travel unimaginable distances across the universe and lose the concept of time. The details fill the imagination of any reader who enjoys richly written science fiction. The themes are complex and universal at the same time: spirituality, morals and sacrifice. The reader can identify with Peter's internal struggle with reconciling the will of God, and leaving behind his wife. In fact, Peter compares the difficult journey with the suffering of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Nevertheless, while there are many strong points to this epic novel, I found the explicit adult scenes at the beginning of the book to detract from the overall story. The vivid description of a cat being tortured, as told in the correspondence between Peter and his wife, Bea was just too disturbing for my taste. These little details which may be overlooked as insignificant by many readers, who find adult content common place in today's movies and novels won't give these elements a second thought. Initially when I received this book, I was excited to share this book with my teenager, but after reading through the adult scenes, I reconsidered. Yet, I found the inclusion of these explicit scenes unnecessary and difficult to reconcile, and as a result, I find that I personally would not recommend this book to anyone that I know. The book cover art is simple, eye catching and poetic- somewhat like the surreal universe the author describes. The golden edged pages give the book a rich, quality feel, suitable for any permanent place in an upscale library. This book is almost like a work of art. As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Hogarth publishers, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group of Random House LLC, for the purpose of writing this review.
Beautiful, I am a lover of good science fiction and of fiction in general that is completely original. I loved that this book never relies on cliched ideas of villains. The mystery behind why humans are on OASIS as well as the warm welcome Peter receives from the inhabitants of Oasis when he arrives is one worth waiting for the answer for. The book never relies on Shamalanyan twists to hook the readers and really every reveal makes complete sense once the reader learns of it. Even though no reveals ever come out of left field, you will still be constantly surprised. I couldn't put the novel down and really I hope this book is recognized for the great modern sci-fi it is.
The nice thing about a phone book is that it moves inexorably from A to Z. The Book of Strange New Things does not move at all. Just chapter after chapter with no insight into the characters, no plot development, not even good descriptions of the scene. Just words. Save your money and read the phone book.
What !!!!!!!!......Five hundred pages of brilliant, genius writing, but what happens next ?????. What happened to Jesus Lover Five? and what has become of Beatrice? Is she alive or dead? I need closure. Maybe it's not the way of geniuses, but I'm just a pedestrian reader who needs things wrapped up. I need an ending ! Yet another Michael Faber cliffhanger. I read this latest novel as voraciously as I did The Crimson Petal and the White, which I had just discovered prior to reading this one. I absolutely loved both of these books, but the ending left me hanging on by my fingernails. There are characters in both novels out there unaccounted for ! I don't know if I could stand to read another Michael Faber novel, knowing that he is going to draw me inexorably into the lives of his characters, only to leave me unfulfilled and upset. I would have thrown this book at the wall, out of sheer frustration, after reading the last page, except it was on my NOOK and I didn't want to break it. Still it definitely deserves four stars for brilliant prose, and Faber's ability to involve you with his characters completely.
Peter Leigh, recovering drug addict and people user, husband of Beatrice, Pastor of a small congregation in a suburb of London, has been selected by USIC to be the minister to the inhabitants of the Planet Oasis. How did he “get sober?” What kind of Pastor is he? Who is USIC? What is the planet Oasis and why do they need a pastor? There is enough mystery and assumptions contained in that one sentence to hint at the questions raised in this mesmerizing, stunning, beautiful book. Told from a Third-Person perspective, the reader gets to experience Peter’s mission alongside the new pastor. Saying goodbye to Bea, traveling to Cape Canaveral (USIC has absorbed what was once NASA) and the results of the 30 day suspended animation “jump” from Earth to Oasis, meeting his new “flock,” are all presented in ways that seem normal yet magnify what is not known more than they give answers to questions unformed. Peter is a very inclusive, accepting man who chose to become “an innocent” as part of his recovery program. He sees everyone as a treasured Creature made by God and seeks to treat them as such, including the Oasians. This world view emboldens him to his work while it blinds him to many of the actions around him. When he does meet his new congregation, expecting his assigned task to be difficult – learning the language of this new “people group,” developing relationships, creating a place to worship, translating the Message into language understood by the “locals” – he finds instead a group of believers who are hungry for “Father Peter” to “teach them words from The Book of Strange New Things” (the Bible); amazed at their desire and ability to comprehend, Peter sets about to fulfill their expressed wishes. As he adjusts to the atmosphere of Oasis, learns the native culture he quickly adapts to the easier pace and gentle living exhibited by his charges. In so doing, he is exposed to some of the reasoning as to why USIC spent exorbitant amounts of money to hire and transport him to this hot, muggy planet where the days are three times longer than those on earth. What he discovers about himself, the reason the Oasians are so hungry to learn more about the Bible and “the Technique of Jesus,” what USIC may really be up to and what is happening to Bea and Earth while this mission is being achieved are some of the discoveries made by the inhabitants of this newly discovered planet. This book is rises from an overtly Christian point of view; it is, however, a book more about belief than religion. Mr. Faber’s illustration of “Ο Λ¿γος becoming flesh” is one of the most accurate, heart-touching and simple definitions I have discovered. The book has very harsh language at moments, pointing to the reality that Believers (of whatever faith) are to be in a world that is not pretty, is harsh has difficult things happening in it and asks the reader to consider the value of doubt in living a life of faith. There is nothing about the planet Oasis that I wish to experience yet it was it did not feel alien to me and that is the over-reaching metaphor, for me, at the heart of this creative novel. Alienation is an experience everyone knows, we want something that we feel has been promised and hope that what was heard did not “lose something in the translation.” The best for which we can hope is to be connected to another (or others) in ways that confound description with bonds of such strength that the gates of Hell cannot withstand their power.
What a total waste of time.