The Book of Strange New Things

The Book of Strange New Things

by Michel Faber


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The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553418842
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Pages: 512
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.70(d)

About 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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The Book of Strange New Things: A Novel 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
LoveToReadJFE More than 1 year ago
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.
Palegirl More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Davidinwonderland More than 1 year ago
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. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
kutlerstaplin More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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. 
Anonymous 20 hours ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the beginning to the end, this was a slow book. That doesn't mean it was a bad one, however. There were some aspects that I wish would have been explained more. There were also parts that I could have lived without.
BuckMO More than 1 year ago
Interesting story that often gets bogged down in detail, but I like books with a conclusion unless there will be a sequel.
AbigailPost More than 1 year ago
(*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”.
NellieMR More than 1 year ago
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.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
“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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Biocritic More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Worth the read
ajwal More than 1 year ago
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. 
PJtheEMT4 More than 1 year ago
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. 
chermcherm More than 1 year ago
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.
Davids3 More than 1 year ago
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.
anamcara23 More than 1 year ago
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.
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
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.
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byLuluwithLove More than 1 year ago
The premise is a very curious one. Oasis is a planet that was essentially discovered by a private organisation, USIC, and fully controlled and operated by them. Like many other instances of colonialism in the world, this one is no different in that the newcomers introduce their religion. Originally introduced to Christianity as a likely method of control, a group of indigenous Oasans quickly take to Jesus, though their ability to grasp metaphorical speech means they believe everything told to them in the Book of Strange New Things, aka the Bible, is literal. They will literally live forever. Heaven is a literal place. Well, when the pastor they originally worked with mysteriously disappeared, the Oasans become distraught. They demand a replacement and refuse to supply the USIC humans with food. Enter Peter, an English minister, that has been selected to administer ‘the good word.’ He sees this as an amazing opportunity to spread the name of Jesus to a whole new group of individuals that have never heard of Him. Leaving his wife behind, he flies off to space, afraid but hopeful. Peter is surprised and excited when he finds out that the locals have already accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and only want to continue learning about Him. For Peter, everything is perfect. Oasan world is the utopia he has always searched for. He becomes so wrapped up in the Oasans, that he slowly begins to forget that he is human. That he has a wife. That he has a life back on Earth. He wastes away until he is skin and bones. He gets severe sunburns, though never seems to realise this until a fellow USIC member admonishes him about it. Meanwhile, Peter’s poor wife Bea is trapped on Earth, desperate to continue contact with her husband. She writes to him constantly through a contraption called “the Shoot,” a bit like intergalactic email. Her letters grow darker as the novel goes on, brimming with despair. The world is becoming a dangerous place. Large financial institutions are on the brink of collapse. Food becomes scarce. The government abandons its people. Natural disasters are occurring with alarming regularity. Atrocities against humanity committed frequently. Bea continually tries reaching out to Peter for help, for sympathy, guidance, love, understanding. She receives none of it. He begins avoiding her messages because they make him “feel bad” that he doesn’t care about the things she talks about. All he can see are the Oasans idolizing him for holding the word of Jesus. For such a heavy book, it is surprising in that most of the action comes from Bea. Peter’s world is steady, full of neither excitement nor action. Faber tries to insinuate things have happened that are quite sinister, yet there is nothing uncovered after 500 pages. This book left me so angry, yet the ending seemed to fit the story well. I have so many conflicted feelings about this book, which made it so hard to come up with a rating. At times, this feels like a five star book. Other times, three stars seem adequate. I’m going to split the difference and give it four stars. This is a very uniquely written book that is so very interesting that it carries the reader to the end with minimal action. It will leave you full of emotion, whether it’s angry like I was/still am, or hopeful, and will keep you thinking about it for a good while after finishing. However, if you really dislike religion, steer clear. This book is, obviously, full of Christianity and Bible quotes. //This title was received for free in exchange for an honest review//