'I am with you always, even unto the end of the world . . .'
Peter Leigh is a missionary called to go on the journey of a lifetime. Leaving behind his beloved wife, Bea, he boards a flight for a remote and unfamiliar land, a place where the locals are hungry for the teachings of the Bible - his 'book of strange new things'. It is a quest that will challenge Peter's beliefs, his understanding of the limits of the human body and, most of all, his love for Bea.
The Book of Strange New Things is a wildly original tale of adventure, faith and the ties that might hold two people together when they are worlds apart. This momentous novel, Faber's first since The Crimson Petal and the White, sees him at his expectation-defying best.
©2014 Michel Faber (P)2014 Canongate Books Ltd
Australian author inspired by beauty and creativity.
I found this book engaging to listen to on Audible, the narration was good and hearing the alien voices added a dimension I probably wouldn't have had in reading the paper book. I'm not a standard sci fi fan and prefer spec fic. The premise was interesting. A minister is sent to an alien planet to preach the gospel to the locals but leaves his beloved wife at home in a deteriorating world. However the story took so long to get anywhere and Peter was a quite annoying dolt while his wife was the perceptive one. I didn't really care about Peter but was concerned about their relationship which is mightily tested. Nothing dramatic really happens though it is mildly interesting to learn about this alien place. The talent in the writer was making me finish the book but I ended it by saying, So what? The aliens didn't need him; his wife desperately needed him and he wasn't there.
Read this book as part of our book club. It was slow to start, I kept reading in the hope something may happen. There were parts of the book that were "ok", but overall I didn't like it at all. The ending was weak as well - so many unanswered questions.
"Bad story, good narrator."
It was okay, but not mind-blowing.
It had a lot of potential that remained unexplored. The way I understand it, the author took on a very limited point of view of emphasise that it was Peter's outlook and priorities that counted, but then a first-person narrative would have suited this novel much better. As it is, the reader is left with the feeling that many important issues have remained unexplored.
He brings an boyish enthusiasm to Peter that fits his personality, and the way he reads the Oasans is also good (and not easy to pull off).
No, unless they fixed the plot holes in the novel.
"Not sure Michel Faber does resolution..."
If you are familiar with Michel Faber's works you won't be too surprised by the ambling nature of the novel. An evangelistic pastor is recruited by a mysterious corporation to bring the gospel to an alien race on a planet they wish to colonise. It's less about a plot than an exploration of a set of possibilities and human nature in extreme circumstances. I think I enjoyed it even though the pronunciation of the "alien" speech was absolutely tortuous and made me glad the narrator wasn't with me in person to cover me in spit.
Thought provoking and given the recent extreme weather in Vanuatu possibly prescient.
"Slow and without resolution."
This book had a few interesting concepts, none of which were explored. The ending was particularly poor, I think a better ending May have saved the book, unfortunately not the case.
"A really interesting adventure"
original, interesting, creative
the moral dilemmas that Peter faces is very real and relatable despite the fantasy setting of the story.
I really liked his interpretation of the Oasians voices and pronunciation
the fear that the Oasians felt when Peter hurt himself, really brought home for me how important it was to them to have a religious leader, and the bond they felt with this man.
I am a huge fan of The Crimson Petal and the White. To be honest, if it weren't for my love of that book I would have passed this title over on the basis of it's subject matter. However, Faber's skill meant that I thoroughly enjoyed a book which was about two things I am essentially not very interested in!
"The Book of Ssssstrange New Things"
Really interesting ideas, and engaging story.
Was originally only going to give it 3 stars, as I felt quite a few things were unresolved and some of those big ideas were left high and dry. However, I've been reflecting on the story, and the characters for a few days - I really cared about what would happen to them, and the book and the strange environment have stayed with me. Surely the sign of a clever and involving piece of work.
"Not just for sci-fi fans, a compelling human story"
I bought this audiobook having previously enjoyed The Crimson Petal and the White by the same author. This book could not be more different but was also a compelling listen.
The book is set in the near future but, although staged in sci fi territory, the story is concerned with human themes: relationships, the nature of faith, belonging.
The imagined world is detailed, fascinating and convincing and will satisfy sci fi fans . The underlying human themes develop slowly and the book is a thought provoking commentary on the nature of modern human relationships and connectedness.
Credit must go to the narrator who manages the challenge of an entirely new language with great skill.
I really enjoyed this book and the issues raised remained with me long afterwards. A thought provoking and intelligent listen.
"Different and Fascinating"
I would rather read it. I did not enjoy the narrator's attempts to pronounce the words the aliens say when trying to speak English.
This book is quite unique but the closest I could get to a comparison is Michael Faber's "Under The Skin".
Yes apart from the attempt to speak like the aliens. That was rather painful.
It is a good story and keeps you reading to see how it works out and what is really going on. I found the extensive Christian sermons very tedious and think they could have been shortened.
"Largely uneventful, irritating narration"
Probably not, it's very dull.
No, it is boring. Infuriatingly uneventful; the protagonist's character s developed for 3/4th of the book, in largely the same way (casual link to personal history, repeat).
Absolutely not. Strikes me more as a stage actor than a narrator – gets way too involved in putting on voices. The aliens' voices are very irksome to listen to for the number of hours required to complete the book, and when they sing it's genuinely excruciating. Might just be personal, but I want a book read to me, not hear an actor audition for a stage role.
Committing to hearing one person's voice for 16+ hours is a big decision – I recommend people listen to as many samples as possible before downloading.
"worst book i've read in a long time"
this is a dreadful book with huge plot holes and inconsistencies. the characters have no redeeming qualities, i found them irritating and illogical.
the alien speak was awful
dont get this book
"A Strange Book Indeed"
I was intrigued by the premise of this book: a missionary going to a strange new place to live with his flock and bring them the word of God, whilst maintaining a relationship with his wife who is only reachable via a form of email with no pictures.
It's difficult knowing what to write without giving away any plot. There *is* plot, but it's tenuous, and what there is is slightly fantastic to say the least. And by that I mean fantasy-like, rather than brilliant.
The team of people at the USIC base seem jaded and gelded. The happenings around Bea feel too far fetched to happen so fast. The way Peter and Bea react to each other's messages seems a little unconvincing.
I thought the narrator did a very competent job. I found him believable as Peter and felt he gave him all the colour and personality allowed for in the book. As for his pronunciations, bravo that man! I have no idea how they compare to the spellings in the text (a drawback of audio over a paperback), but they sounded convincing to me!
"The book of boring old things"
Long winded, slim on plot and characterisation, poor editing (how many similes and descriptions of sweatiness does this book need?!)
Nothing by michel faber, that's for sure. I would not have believed that this is the same guy who wrote crimson petal. What a let down
He had a tendency. To stop in the. Middle
Of sentences. As if he hadn't read ahead to know it still carried on
I would have chopped about 2/3rds of the book. Certainly the endless passages of scripture teaching.
I would have added
- a plot
- proper back stories of key characters
- different character viewpoints
I think I'm actually going to return this book. It took up too many hours of my life that I'll never have back
"Moving and thought-provoking"
A highly unusual story,beautifully written that made me think about a lot of things I'd never really considered before. As always Faber's characters are absolutely believable.
The whole book was brought to life by Josh Cohen's virtuoso performance. He really breathed life into the characters with an impressive range of voices and accents.
"always with you until the end of time"
A love bigger than faith, bigger than space, a love that a firms "And remember that I am always with you until the end of time."
This love is the beginning and the end of this book, the backbone of all else in this strange pages with aliens, corporations and so many secrets that no one wants to explore.
A recognisable universe like ours in many ways but with unusual omissions and inexplicable or unexplained reasoning that take you to a world that is claustrophobic in nature, by its very open space and distance from ours.
Communication is limited by technology and exclusion of information from the protagonists, the corporation, language, the lovers, by the very design of the author.
Faith is a big topic in this book and is explored in a compelling way that makes you care for those that believe, especially when doubt begins to enter in their hearts.
I enjoyed this book very much and will digest it for a long time. For those that are not sure about this story, I would say it is a closer relative of the SF of Ray Bradbury that any other; it is not about machines or how they work, space theories or time theories, but about us and our humanity, the construct is only a way to stress and test, it is not meant to be a reality more like a dream that sometimes becomes a nightmare.
The narrator made the book real, even when he had the task of speaking in a none human language.
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