Reader reviews and comments on The Book of Strange New Things, plus links to write your own review.

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The Book of Strange New Things

A Novel

by Michel Faber

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber X
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2014, 480 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2015, 480 pages

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There are currently 39 reader reviews for The Book of Strange New Things
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Candace B. (Grand Island, NY)

Wow !
I just finished this book 5 minutes ago and am wishing there was a sequel I could start right now. I am not a fan of science fiction but this book was far beyond what I expected. The story was engrossing with believable characters and so many themes and areas of discussion that it would make a great book club choice. It is about faith and love and life choices and flaws but most of all, it's a great read! Thank you Michel Faber.
Amy H. (Benbrook, TX)

Nothing like it!
I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It took a few chapters for me to get in sync with the pace of the story and slow character development, but i love Faber's writing style and unique description of events and things and "people" (or "Jesus lovers") around him. This was such a unique story with a unique delivery to the reader (for example, the use of special characters when denoting the Jesus lovers' special language). This would be a very interesting book for a book group - it would prompt unique discussions from various view points, specifically right/wrong, good/evil and the varying shades of human morality. This was a truly wonderful read. Enjoy!
Jan T. (Leona Valley, CA)

The Book of Strange New Things
Michel Faber is genius. This masterpiece explores faith in the context of religion, marriage, friendship and humanity. The author's seamlessly ability transcends traditional genres in telling the tale of a marriage complicated by distance and faith. This book is mesmerizing - the events on earth and the new planet are fascinating. The end of the novel is perplexing - almost a beginning. This is a must read - it propels you to the end. Excellent!
Ruthie A. (Summit, NJ)

Thought Provoking Not Really Sci-Fi!
I loved The Crimson, The Petal and the White, but this book is as different as two books could be! This is also a book I might not have picked up had I known what it was about - not a Sci-Fi fan, nor would the religion heavy theme have attracted me. Would have been my loss!

This insightful novel is the story of Peter, a minister with a past, who has been chosen to head to Oasis, and bring Christianity to the "Aliens". He leaves behind his beloved wife Bea.
This could have been a very predictable story - humans colonizing another planet, trying to force our values and religion on the inhabitants, wife left behind, big Corp monetizing the future etc, but in Faber's deft hands it is anything but cookie-cutter.
The reader experiences everything through Peter's eyes, and our impressions and judgements evolve as Peter's knowledge grows and his insight expands. Faber has statements to make in this novel, about religion, about what we are doing to our planet, about how we treat one another, etc, but he uses a subtle hand. The near-future Earth Faber gives us feels realistic, if not inevitable. It is the relationships that resonate the strongest in this book, there are many and they all feel very realistic rather than stereotypic.

Small quibble; I often felt the descriptions went on a bit too long and were sometimes too repetitious; the rain, the humidity, I get it! Apart from that, this was a brilliant, thought-provoking, creative novel that will stay with me for a while!
Chris H. (Wauwatosa, WI)

Strange New Things
I don't know how to begin to review this book except to say it's thrilling, frightening, and compelling. I would recommend it as a "must read" on anyone's book list.
Susan S. (Lafayette, CA)

A wonderful, strange book
I really liked this book. I am a fan of speculative fiction, and technically I guess you would say it falls into that genre. But as others have pointed out, it is not easily categorized – it's also a love story: it's also a fish out of water story; it's also something of a mystery. It's very easy to read – it has a clean, direct, simple prose style which I very much appreciate. That is not to say however, that the ideas or the atmosphere are simple. It as has a sense of foreboding throughout, both from the increasingly disturbing reports coming from earth and even more so from the native population of Oasis. In addition, the earth colony on Oasis is decidedly odd also. This was a great read, which has lingered in my thoughts ever since I finished it.
Power Reviewer
Barbara O. (Maryland Heights, MO)

A a Strange New World
I am not a big fan of futuristic books but this book lures you in and holds your interest until the end. Michael Faber's "Book of Strange New Things" is fascinating. I could not put it down. Throughout I kept being reminded of Mary Dorian Russell's "The Sparrow". This book is beautifully written and the reader is drawn closer and closer into a new society and a strange new environment. This book is about people first and foremost and about love in many forms. Bravo!
Janis H. (Willow Street, PA)

The Book of Strange New Things
The first chapter of Michel Faber's The Book of Strange New Things lures the reader into joining Pastor Peter Leigh on his journey to an extra-earthly world named Oasis where he will fulfill his assignment as Minister (Christian) to Indigenous Population. In that first chapter we watch an ordinary married couple who passionately love each other and have committed themselves to the success of Peter's mission for the ambiguous USIC. Peter feels both honored that the USIC has selected him from many other applicants and conflicted that it did not choose his wife Beatrice, his inspiration and his guide thus far in his life, to accompany him. We also see the anxiety they both feel at the thought of a six month separation.
   The next one hundred pages slowly progress as Peter arrives after a month's travel and acclimates himself to his sterile accommodations, his new diet of pseudo food, and the common bantering of the other USIC employees. He meets his caustic and unfriendly personal assistant, Alex Grainger whose purpose is to see to his every need and to accompany him safely to and from the Oasan people
   Early in the development of their relationship, she realizes that Peter is "not an uneducated holy roller from Hicksville;" however, Peter's unemotional responses to situations, his wide eyed idealism and naiveté contradicts his past. He tells Grainger, "I never went to Bible School. I went to the University of Hard Drinking and Drug Abuse." Although his character morphs several times throughout the book, Peter remains aloof, pedantic, and begs the reader to ask, "What is happening?"
   Faber's book defies a specific genre categorization. Is it a parable of a journey and thus the naming of the characters Peter and Beatrice not a coincidence? Peter's first meeting with an Oasan overwhelms him with joy as the Oasan, whose physical face reminds him of two three month old twin fetuses, tells Peter that the others have prayed for his coming. Unlike the Biblical Saint Peter he does not need to evangelize; therefore, the theme cannot relate to evangelizing Christians who enter a foreign world, attempt to bring them to Christ, then plunder their land. No, Peter has entered Paradise. Unlike Dante's Beatrice, Peter's Beatrice is not by his physical side as she has always been. When he emails her of his good news, she replies with the first of many tragic stories which will soon consume her apocalyptic world. As his faith and conviction grows stronger, Bea's grows weaker.
   Peter begins to grow more distant emotionally to Bea's pregnancy, in which he neither expected or rejoiced. His life with the Oasans fulfills him. He farms with them; he attempts to learn their language. Then, is this book a character study of a man who deeply loves his wife, accepts the challenge which USIC presents to him, and loses faith in his ability to be the best person to both entities? Although the Oasans do not share human appearance or the human tendency to reveal and reflect on the past or the future. they show outstanding ability to return Peter's love for them.   Literally it takes a lightning bolt striking the vehicle in which Grainger escorts him back to the base, to force the reticent Grainger to reveal the mission and his role in that mission that USIC hopes to accomplish. Peter's self loathing and his neglect of Bea's emotional state sends him to despair. His epiphany that he fears he will never minister again makes him realize that his love for Bea is greater than the project.
   I have to admit that science fiction is not my favorite genre; however, Faber writes so persuasively that I actually rooted for the Oasans and Peter's relationship to succeed. I did not feel as if I were reading about someone who was an interplanetary traveler. One has to read the book to understand the next statement: I struggled to try to skip s's and t's in pronunciation of words. I felt pain for Peter's and Bea's situation. I believe that each person who reads this book will take a special memory from it. Although it is nearly 500 pages and it moves slowly in the first half, it is definitely one of the most thought provoking books I have read in awhile.

Beyond the Book:
  Michel Faber

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