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The Book of Strange New Things by Michel…

The Book of Strange New Things (2014)

by Michel Faber

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Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
Peter Leigh is a born-again Christian, a pastor committed to God and in love with his wife Beatrice. He wants to support his church and evangelise the words of the gospel so applies for a role working for USIC. This organisation has a colony on a far planet called Oasis where the local population have asked for a preacher to join them. Peter realises that he can earn money to support his church and spread the word of the Lord but when he arrives, it isn't quite that easy.

I so wanted to like this book, the idea of life on a distant planet where colonisers try to bring their own values to bear is interesting. The juxtaposition with the collapse of morals on Earth is clever. However I just didn't gel with the premise about aliens wanting to know about God and the parts seemed too contrived and clunky. I admit I am no fan of Science Fiction and this book has not helped, even though it is a worthy try and there many interesting ideas. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
A pastor on a far away planet in space preaching to the native. Can there be a bigger cliche than this. With this as the central theme it only becomes worse. ( )
  mausergem | May 18, 2017 |
Engrossing and captivating, this novel was a big hit for me. Despite the obvious comparisons to The Sparrow, one of my all-time favorites, The Book of Strange New Things was able to hold it's own & become a winner in it's own right. My only complaint - I want to know more! It feels like the story of Oasis still has many unanswered questions - I would read book 2! ( )
  NeedMoreShelves | May 3, 2017 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 76 (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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