Misc. Lit · science fiction

The Book Of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

“It was such an infantile prayer, the sort of prayer a five-year-old might pray. But maybe those were the best kind.”

Deciding how to ‘rate’ this book was quite problematic. It took me longer to read the entire thing than I expected and as a result I perhaps lost the complete thrust of the plot arc.

The basic story is about a pastor called Peter Leigh who is sent on a humanitarian mission into deep space with an organization called USIC, but he is separated from his wife, Bea. The journey will test the limits of his relationship with her, and he will learn to communicate with the alienlike beings through his Bible, known as ‘The Book of Strange New Things’.

Well…

I tried to like this book. I really did. I think its framed – going by plot summaries and reviews, anyway – as a romance novel about two people who are separated by the distance of light years while he fights a foe. It is of the science fiction genre, but I really think that perhaps it would also make much better sense if the sci-fi element was made stronger and the romance element depleted, instead with the focus on a real danger of the alien beings that are the Oasans.

The relationship between Peter and Bea was mainly shown through the emails they send each other and I think a book from the other perspective would probably be more interesting as the entire world crumbles and massive institutions fall to ruin. I didn’t really realize how overtly religious the book would be. My stance on religion borders on the indifferent and so perhaps this was the wrong book for me.

I think Faber has done better. Even Crimson Petal and the White was more of a page turner. I didn’t want to give up reading this book because I was always holding out hope that it was going to get better.
However, it wasn’t all completely bad in my opinion. I found Bea’s side of the story far more interesting because the idea that big institutions can crumble, natural disasters can occur or societies can change massively is a reality which is all too real. That being said, the ending was a slight let down.

This book was certainly interesting but I don’t think I’ll be reading it again any time soon.

MY RATING: *** / *****

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