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Under the Skin by Michel Faber
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Under the Skin (original 2004; edition 2010)

by Michel Faber

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,3171105,806 (3.73)216
Now a MajorMotion Picture Hailed as "original and unsettling, an Animal Farm for the new century" (The Wall Street Journal), this first novel lingers long after the last page has been turned. Described as a "fascinating psychological thriller" (The Baltimore Sun), this entrancing novel introduces Isserley, a female driver who picks up hitchhikers with big muscles. She, herself, is tiny--like a kid peering up over the steering wheel. 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. At once humane and horrifying, Under the Skin takes us on a heart-thumping ride through dangerous territory--our own moral instincts and the boundaries of compassion. A grotesque and comical allegory, a surreal representation of contemporary society run amok, Under the Skin has been internationally received as the arrival of an exciting talent, rich and assured."… (more)
Member:littlebookworm
Title:Under the Skin
Authors:Michel Faber
Info:Canongate Books Ltd (2010), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:read 2010, literary fiction, sci-fi

Work Information

Under the Skin by Michel Faber (2004)

  1. 40
    Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (Medellia)
  2. 30
    The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells (HighlandLad)
  3. 20
    The Courage Consort: Three Novellas by Michel Faber (Booksloth, Booksloth)
  4. 21
    Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: Another novel in which average humans are not the "normals". Both novels view people from very interesting, albeit different, perspectives.
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» See also 216 mentions

English (100)  Dutch (6)  Italian (2)  Swedish (1)  French (1)  All languages (110)
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
Isserley is an alien who has been sent to Earth to capture humans for alien consumption. There is a lot about her alien world that is unclear, but what is clear is that Isserley is miserable and feels trapped and powerless. She hunts by picking up hitchhikers, and talking to them about their lives to determine whether anyone will miss them if they disappear. Despite conversing with lots of humans, she and her fellow aliens still don't seem to understand that humans are sentient and have the same kinds of thoughts and feelings that they do - in other words, that they are the same under the skin. The miseries of the humans are contrasted with the misery of Isserley's life.

There is a lot going on here, and this is one of those books I might have enjoyed more if I had read it in a book group or been able to discuss it with someone else as I read. Ultimately I found it to be unsatisfying. ( )
  Gwendydd | Dec 11, 2022 |
I'm glad I watched Jonathan Glazer's film version of Michel Faber's novel before I read the book. The slimmest of threads links the two and I love them both, but I think if I'd met Michel Faber's Isserley before I saw Scarlett Johansson's interpretation, I might have judged the film harshly.

The book goes more deeply into who Isserley is and why she does what she does. It considers class structures, animal rights and sexism through a lens of aliens who call themselves human living among humans that they call food.

It's strange, unsettling and heartbreaking. ( )
  missizicks | Sep 30, 2022 |
strange. weird. kinda sad. ( )
  rufus666 | Aug 14, 2022 |
The greatest, weirdest, wildest, most beautiful ethical discussion in form in a novel you could imagine. ( )
  Wolfseule23 | Aug 6, 2022 |
This book is a fun ride.

There are real-life issues discussed directly through hitchhikers the main character picks up, and then through fictional concepts resembling our own. Most of the characters are troubled and seen through the eyes of no mercy which is the intention. That's how we see livestock.

There are reviews stating that the overall concept makes less sense when you think about it, real-life meat farming also makes less sense when you think about it tho. Considering they only started to farm, I expect them to make many mistakes. There are other reviews being put off by sexual objectification, but that's the point, farmers objectify the livestock, in this case, themselves. There's a ton struggling to wrap their head around what's happening, it might be harder to grasp not knowing about the meat industry in the first place, it's as disgusting as in the novel.

The messy development the main character goes through is fun to witness. There's a ton of appreciation of nature.

The ending doesn't wrap it up in a satisfying way, it felt like it could have gone on for a bit more. This universe could be expanded and explored more. Overall it's a well-crafted, enjoyable read tho. ( )
  NotaRein | Jul 25, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
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Thanks to Jeff and Fuggo
and especially to my wife, Eva,
for bringing me back to earth
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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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Wikipedia in English (1)

Now a MajorMotion Picture Hailed as "original and unsettling, an Animal Farm for the new century" (The Wall Street Journal), this first novel lingers long after the last page has been turned. Described as a "fascinating psychological thriller" (The Baltimore Sun), this entrancing novel introduces Isserley, a female driver who picks up hitchhikers with big muscles. She, herself, is tiny--like a kid peering up over the steering wheel. 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. At once humane and horrifying, Under the Skin takes us on a heart-thumping ride through dangerous territory--our own moral instincts and the boundaries of compassion. A grotesque and comical allegory, a surreal representation of contemporary society run amok, Under the Skin has been internationally received as the arrival of an exciting talent, rich and assured."

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Canongate Books

An edition of this book was published by Canongate Books.

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