Review: The Book of Strange New Things, by Michael Faber

bosnt_collage_copy_2569_0Synopsis: Peter Leigh is a husband, a Christian, and now a missionary. As The Book of Strange New Things opens, he is set to embark on a journey that will be the biggest test of his faith yet.

From the moment he says goodbye to his wife, Bea, and boards his flight, he begins a quest that will challenge his religious beliefs, his love and his understanding of the limits of the human body.

 

 

Title: The Book of Strange New Things
Author: Michael Faber
Publisher: Cannongate
Pub Date: 23rd October 2014
Pages: 585
ISBN: 9781782114062
Rating: 3stars

I was provided a review copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m not quite sure how to review The Book of Strange New Things; I’ve never read any sci-fi before so I can’t base it on the genre. Neither have I read any previous titles by Faber, so I can’t tell you how much his writing style has developed.

What I can tell you is that I saw the cover and had to have it; I was so happy when my request to review was accepted; I’d see the hardback around bookshops with friends and smugly tell them I already had it to read on my kindle. When I finally got round to reading – I must say I was a bit surprised; I did not get ‘literary sci-fi novel’ from the cover.

About 10% in I started to get a little worried – I abhor anything that feels too ‘preachy’ or religious, and there was a lot of sermon talk throughout. But I kept reading; I found the book strange and interesting; I was intrigued to see whether anything would actually happen. Thankfully, in the last 40% the story got much better; the pace picked up and threads of the plot started coming together.

This isn’t a gripping read, it’s meant to be quiet and thought-provoking, and strands of the novel would make it an interesting book-club read. The quiet calm of the Oasans vs. the insignificant dramas of humans; the almost biblical breakdown of Earth vs. the emptiness of the new world and Bea and Peter’s relationship are all interesting points of discussion.

The Book of Strange New Things is a marmite book – you’ll either love it, or you’ll hate it. I don’t really feel much about it – it was a nice read but didn’t excite me in any way. Whilst the combination of sci-fi and literary fiction is refreshing – I’m not sure if it was executed as successfully as it could have been.

P.S. In the acknowledgements, Faber mentions that all of surnames in the novel are based on the people who created the Marvel Comics that inspired him during the 60’s and 70’s. Love that!

P.P.S. I’ve avoided voicing my opinions on any debatable topics, as it’ll give the entire plot away. You’ll just have to read this and form your own opinions.

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