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The Book of Strange New Things by Michel…
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The Book of Strange New Things (2014)

by Michel Faber

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English (74)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Piratical (1)  All (78)
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
Back in 2014, I received an e-galley of Book of Strange New Things for review. I made it less than 25 pages before giving up on it due to the near constant evangelizing and professions of God’s will. I may not have many limits on what I read, but I tend to draw the line at Christian fiction. I have read it in the past and find that it is just not for me. Therefore, I opted to bypass Mr. Faber’s novel with little guilt. At the time.

However, then it started receiving positive reviews and started making it onto Best of lists for 2014. As with any novel I do not finish, there was a real FOMO that existed, and I began to question having given up on the novel so soon. Apparently, if these lists and reviews were any indication, I missed out on reading a great novel. As with anything I want to re-read, I chose to give it a second chance via audiobook. After all, since reading it in print did not work for me the first time, perhaps a different medium work work better for me.

That is the backstory on how I found myself listening to this odd and long tale about love and distance, the end of one world and the beginning of a new one. I am sad to say that my initial assessment of the novel was correct. This novel, with its lengthy and numerous discussions of faith, is not my cup of tea.

If you take out the evangelizing, the story is actually quite lovely. Peter’s experiences on Oasis combined with the travails upon Earth, the growing discord between husband and wife, the mysterious mission of USIC all create a fascinating study of human nature and its sometimes opposing quest for love and survival. Mr. Faber’s descriptions are exacting and intense, so much so that it seems impossible that Oasis does not actually exist. You feel as if you are there with Peter as he navigates the foreign world and climate.

Yet, there is just too much talk about God, following Christ, accepting Christ, stories about the Bible, and other evangelizing for me to have ever become truly immersed in the story. Peter even becomes a bit too smug in his faith, making it easy for me to see why Bea takes him to task while her world begins to fail. Such talk is fine in church but not something I want to read in my novels.

I was interested enough in Book of Strange New Things to want to finish the story. This speaks volumes about the story itself that it was interesting enough to make me want to push through the parts I had no interest in hearing. Mr. Faber certainly has a way with words, and I wanted to learn everything I could about his strange new world. There was just a bit too much about the book of strange new things and Jesus lovers for me to have thoroughly enjoyed it.
  jmchshannon | Feb 8, 2017 |
This is a story about a Christian missionary sent to an outpost on another planet in order to proselytize to the natives there. Because of this premise, it is tempting to draw a comparison to Mary Dora Russell's novel, 'The Sparrow' ("Jesuits in Space"); but TBOSNT is more firmly seated as Christian fiction. The thoughtfully-written prose is mesmerizing, if a bit slow in tempo (albeit, this underscores the sense of unease you intuit from the start of the novel.) Pastor Peter Leigh not only must minister to a population whose comprehension of the Gospels is difficult to assess, there are the added issues of his handler, the sponsoring corporation who eliminated his wife from coming along, the wife who sends messages of Earth's developing collapse embroidered with her own insecurities, and the question of what happened to the last pastor... The novel requires a bit of patience in accordance with how secularist you are; but it's hypnotic and intriguing. Michel Faber has stated that this is his last novel, which is a shame. A sequel or companion piece to this one would be appreciated. As far as the audio goes, Josh Cohen (British narrator) preforms the role of Peter and his American colleagues (both male and female) with consummate skill. The Oasans (the natives of the planet) present a unique challenge: Their physiological makeup makes communication difficult. The studio that produced the audio took a risk by slightly enhancing Cohen's voice in some places and it pays off more or less. You have to listen carefully, and you still might not catch on to what exactly they are saying; but it works in context. ( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Sep 18, 2016 |
Read the opening chapters at the store. First off there was so much God, HIM and more annoying Christian do gooding for this books own good. I hated Peter. I will never get those moments I spent w this book back. If I could give negative stars I would. ( )
  tamarah71 | Sep 5, 2016 |
The Book of Strange New Things contains futuristic technology, space travel, and extraterrestrial beings, but it is not science fiction. Instead, it is the portrait of a marriage.

Peter and Bea are a happy and deeply religious married couple. He is the minister of their church and a former drug addict. She is the lovely nurse who brought him to God. A mysterious corporation is colonizing a faraway planet, and Peter is chosen to preach the word of God to the native population. For unknown reasons, Bea cannot accompany him. They are confident their love can withstand the great distance. Part of their confidence unconsciously stems from the fact that they have never been apart before.

Unfortunately, Peter - like all the men I have dated - turns out to be crap at long-distance relationships. It turns out he has landed the cushiest missionary gig in the history of Christianity. The aliens already have some understanding of the Bible - they already speak some English! - and eagerly listen to his teachings. Peter is so absorbed by tending his flock and building his church that he does not always respond to his wife's letters.

Bea, in contrast, describes natural disasters that destroy entire countries and the collapse of Britain's infrastructure. The destruction, combined with pregnancy and her husband's seeming indifference, make Bea's letters more and more frantic, but Peter cannot - or will not - relate to her experiences. He has a frustrating lack of curiosity, especially regarding the motives of his employer, and is quite happy playing with his new alien friends. The central concern of the book is not what the corporation wants, or what the natives want, but what Peter wants!

Like [b:The Bone Clocks|20819685|The Bone Clocks|David Mitchell|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1398205538s/20819685.jpg|26959610], The Book of Strange New Things raises more questions than it answers. It confused me, irritated me, and left me longing for more. Michel Faber has said this will be his last book, but I hope that he changes his mind and revisits this world that he created. ( )
  doryfish | Aug 15, 2016 |
Originally posted @ http://readaholiczone.blogspot.com

You know what the story is about from the synopsis so there is no point in me retelling it to you. I had a difficult time reaching the end of this book due to the books monotonous plot. No storyline is developed where something of significance happens. Is there a reason that humans are residing on the planet Oasis because one is never mentioned. It is not like the planet is interesting or captivating to the eye it is only soil, no trees no animals, just one type of plant. Humans are not even studying the residents of Oasis. Also, the residents on this planet have this great need to know about Jesus, but why? Never find out. Another thing that made no sense was that the residents on the planet each wear a different color robe and there are hundreds of them with no resources how do they make the robes and come up with so many colors? Never find out.

I have read bad books in my life, but not one that had such a lifeless plot. There was no type of mystery, action, suspense, romance, intrigue, etc. to keep the reader interested; the same scenarios kept repeating. While reading the book the author created opportunities to arise that inspired an intriguing event to occur though they fizzled out before anything happened. This writer had created a base for a compelling story it is very disappointing that nothing came of it.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."
( )
  THCForPain | May 27, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
As someone who harbors a fondness for science fiction and thirsts for more complex treatment of religion in contemporary novels, I relished every chance to cloister myself away with “The Book of Strange New Things.” If it feels more contemplative than propulsive, if Faber repeatedly thwarts his own dramatic premises, he also offers exactly what I crave: a state of mingled familiarity and alienness that leaves us with questions we can’t answer — or forget.
added by zhejw | editWashington Post, Ron Charles (Nov 25, 2014)
 
Since the critical and commercial triumph of Hilary Mantel, the historical novel is newly respectable. One hopes that Michel Faber can do something similar for speculative writing. Defiantly unclassifiable, “The Book of Strange New Things” is, among other things, a rebuke to the credo of literary seriousness for which there is no higher art than a Norwegian man taking pains to describe his breakfast cereal. As well as the literature of authenticity, Faber reminds us, there is a literature of enchantment, which invites the reader to participate in the not-real in order to wake from a dream of reality to the ineffability, strangeness and brevity of life on Earth.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Marcel Theroux (Oct 30, 2014)
 
...like the best sci-fi or fantasy, the novel is really an examination of humanity. It is also a powerful and, one suspects, personal meditation on the limitations of the flesh, and the capacity of either love or faith to endure extreme pressure. Startlingly tender and bold in conception, it offers a bleak vision of our future that also holds fast to the hope that, in Larkin’s phrase, “what will survive of us is love”.
added by _Zoe_ | editThe Guardian, Stephanie Merritt (Oct 26, 2014)
 
The book isn’t without a few niggling problems.... But the genuinely inquisitive and searching story in The Book of Strange New Things ultimately trumps such minor logistical concerns. This is a novel of big ideas by a writer of unusual intelligence and lucidity, and it lingers in the mind after the final page is turned.
added by _Zoe_ | editThe Independent, Doug Johnstone (Oct 25, 2014)
 
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It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.

Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us.
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