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Under the Skin: A Novel by Michel Faber

Under the Skin: A Novel (original 2000; edition 2001)

by Michel Faber

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1,860855,409 (3.74)183
Title:Under the Skin: A Novel
Authors:Michel Faber
Info:Harvest Books (2001), Paperback, 319 pages
Collections:Your library, read, Read in 2014

Work details

Under the Skin by Michel Faber (2000)

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» See also 183 mentions

English (76)  Dutch (5)  Italian (2)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All languages (85)
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
Under the Skin by Michael Faber is a strange story that grows progressively weirder as it develops. Set in the Scottish Highlands the story slowly reveals that the main character, Isserley, spends her time driving around the roads of Northern Scotland and picks up hitchhikers. She doesn’t pickup women, and only stops for well developed, muscular men. After getting them into her car she guides the conversation to have her passenger reveal what ties they have and who would miss them if they don’t show up at their destination.

As the story moves along, the reader eventually discovers the purpose behind Isserley’s quest. The story grows ever darker and more terrifying. As more of Isserley’s character is revealed, the harder it is not to feel some empathy for her, although she certainly shows none for her victims. In truth, Isserley is an extraterrestrial who has been surgically altered to roughly take the human form. Her victims are drugged, mutilated, fattened and then shipped to her home planet for food.

With Under the Skin the author has delivered a beautifully written horror story with touches of macabre humor and, like many classic science fiction novels, this is a satirical novel with themes that revolve around the exploration of issues of humanity and other social concerns. I was totally spellbound by this brilliant, surreal exploration of morality but would caution that this story can be brutally graphic at times. This book deserves it's place on the 1,001 Books List and was a five star read for me. ( )
2 vote DeltaQueen50 | Aug 5, 2018 |
Bought this because it was by the author of crimson Petal and the White. Very different!!! Not sure if I really like it, but I will never get it out of my mind! Female driver goes out cruising for muscular male hitchhikers...billed as an erotic thriller - not! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
I've had this book since 2014, glad to finally finish it. It was a quick read. I did not know that the author, Micehl Faber, is considered to be a Scottish Author (he lives there now), a Dutch author (he was born there), and an Australian author (most of his school years were spent there). According to Wikipedia, his themes are not particular to any of the countries but "European".

Under the Skin is the first of his books to be published. This story is science fiction and horror. The protagonist Isserley is picking up hitchhikers. This story is set in Scotland. The reader is slowly given more and more information about why she is picking up these hitchhikers and what Isserley is and what she has gone through to obtain this job.

There is a grossness to this book when you find out what is being done with these male hitchhikers. It's a bit disconcerting to find that Isserley and her compatriots view these hitchhikers as animals and they, the humans.

Its themes include sexism, big business, factory farming, and cruelty. Over all the book was a fast read, entertaining (however gross), and a bit preachy. I don't think I would want to see this movie. ( )
  Kristelh | Jun 30, 2018 |
This is every bit as weird as the movie now out with Scarlett Johannson. The tale is told from the perspective of a female alien sent out to pick up hitch-hikers who are then gelded, muted, fattened and slaughtered for food. In order to accomplish this task, our heroine(?)'s body has been brutally altered to enhance her appeal to the males she lures into her car. In the process, it becomes more and more difficult for her to feel part of her own race. She also has to deal with an increasing number of surprises she learns about humans. This is definitely an odd scifi novel but I'm finding it worthwhile in a peculiar way. Not for everyone. ( )
  abycats | May 11, 2018 |
Ci voleva "il petalo" perché uscisse questo libro... E' totalizzante. ( )
  Eva_Filoramo | May 3, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
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Thanks to Jeff and Fuggo
and especially to my wife Eva,
for bringing me back to earth
First words
Isserley always drove straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up.
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156011603, Paperback)

In the opening pages of Under the Skin, a lone female is scouting the Scottish Highlands in search of well-proportioned men: "Isserley always drove straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up. She was looking for big muscles: a hunk on legs. Puny, scrawny specimens were no use to her." At this point, the reader might be forgiven for anticipating some run-of-the-mill psychosexual drama. But commonplace expectation is no help when it comes to Michel Faber's strange and unsettling first novel; small details, then major clues, suggest that something deeply bizarre is afoot. What are the reasons for Isserley's extensive surgical scarring, her thick glasses, her excruciating backache? Who are the solitary few who work on the farm where her cottage is located? And why are they all nervous about the arrival of someone called Amlis Vess?

The ensuing narrative is of such cumulative, compelling strangeness that it almost defies description. The one thing that can be said with certainty is that Under the Skin is unlike anything else you have ever read. Faber's control of his medium is nearly flawless. Applying the rules of psychological realism to a fictional world that is both terrifying and unearthly, he nonetheless compels the reader's absolute identification with Isserley. Not even the author's fine short-story collection, Some Rain Must Fall, prepared us for such mastery. Under the Skin is ultimately a reviewer's nightmare and a reader's dream: a book so distinctive, so elegantly written, and so original that one can only urge everybody in earshot to experience it, and soon. --Burhan Tufail

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:08 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In this haunting novel, readers are introduced to Isserley, a female driver who cruises the Scottish Highlands picking up hitchhikers. Scarred and awkward, yet strangely erotic and threatening, she listens to her hitchhikers as they open up to her, revealing clues about who might miss them if they should disappear. A grotesque and comical allegory, "Under the Skin" takes us on a heart-thumping ride through dangerous territory--our own moral instincts and the boundaries of compassion--to present a surreal representation of contemporary society run amok.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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