This year’s resolution includes working harder to post at least once a week. I’ve missed blogging and with this first post of 2015, I’m reviewing a book I finished this month. One that took me a month to read, due in part to me completing my current story, Unbreakable Heart. A co-worker of mine told me about The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber, an ARC we received at work. If the name sounds familiar it’s because he wrote The Crimson Petal and the White, which was turned into a Starz’s mini-series if I remember correctly. Well, he told me I had to read this book because I’m one of the few people he knew who’d appreciate it’s oddness. And writing, of course.
First, let’s start with the plot: Peter is a minister, sent to a distant planet called Oasis in order to preach the word of God to the alien lifeforms that live there. They wish to know more about the Bible, what they call “The Book of Strange New Things.” So, Peter leaves his wife and everything he’s known for the trip of a lifetime.
Seems pretty straightforward, huh, but that’s the easy blurb. This novel has a lot more to it, so much that it would take a year’s worth of posts to explain every little story line. Peter is our main character and it’s ultimately his story, we stick with him throughout the tale. And what a tale it is. It’s not fully science-fiction, not fully religious propaganda, and not fully fantasy. It’s … honestly, strange. No pun intended. The description of the aliens will make your skin crawl. The base, where Peter meets the other humans sent to work on the planet, will leave you suspicious, and the disasters happening on Earth ever since his departure will leave you worried for the future. There were moments I felt Faber had wrapped his fingers around my wrist and twisted the skin trapped beneath. It tightens, burns, and winds up sore afterwards. That’s how I felt reading this book. I mean, there is no other way to describe it.
I’ll be honest. If I casually picked this up in a bookstore I’d probably return it to the shelf. This book was way out of my comfort zone, but in the end, that’s the main reason I enjoyed it so much. You cannot properly convey the way this story made you feel, as you saw from my previous comments, but it’s a story that won’t be forgotten. I will remember these aliens and I will remember the messages Peter’s wife sends him, detailing the horrible events happening on Earth. And I will remember the beautiful craft Faber writes with. The length of the novel may seem a bit daunting. As I stated earlier, it took me a month to read, but don’t let it discourage you. I urge any who wish to try something different, something new, and dare I say, something strange, to pick this novel up. I may not have done a good job at describing my overall take of the story, but again, that’s where it shines. A very interesting first novel of 2015. Nothing I read from now on will compare to this one and that, in and of itself, is my review of Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Things.