The Book Of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

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The designs on the covers of this book (there are two, one for the character Bea and one for Peter) are very beautiful, and having read the authors incredible book The Crimson Petal And The White, I expected big things.

When Peter is selected by the mysterious company USIC to be a minister on the colonised planet Oasis, he feels that God has called him to go, but he must leave his beloved wife Bea (and their cat Joshua) behind. The book tells the story of the aliens that are eager to become Christians and the oddness of the people on the planet, as well as the love of the two people who must love over a distance of light years.

This was recommended and ended up on my reading list, and I don’t really get why. Why did people like this? Religious sci fi? Michel Faber has a way of drawing you in and making you question what’s really going on, of creating suspense and intrigue as well as complex characters who you care about deeply. And although a lot of that skill is in play here, I felt like the whole thing was rather long and boring. The God stuff didn’t interest me at all, and I found the whole subject off putting. Bea and Peter were a nice couple, I liked that, but Bea didn’t get enough “screen time” perhaps. And the aliens… well, it felt like USIC and the aliens desire to know about the Christian religion was leading up to a big reveal, but no, it doesn’t. And the ending… Well, it’s an ending.

If you read this book and loved it, I’d love to know what about it got to you and what you loved, perhaps I just didn’t get it? It’s not that it’s a bad book, it’s just that since I’m not religious, it all felt rather silly to me. It didn’t make me feel anything. My favourite character was the couple’s cat Joshua. That said, it won’t stop me reading other Michel Faber books, but I’ll be more cautious about which ones, perhaps.

Read It If: you’re a Christian who loves Sci Fi.

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