THE BOOK OF STRANGE NEW THINGS by Michel Faber
Kirkus Star

THE BOOK OF STRANGE NEW THINGS

KIRKUS REVIEW

A long-awaited—and brilliant and disquieting—novel of faith and redemption by Scotland-based writer Faber (The Crimson Petal and the White, 2002, etc.).

Eschatological religion and apocalypse make a natural fit. Throw in a distant planet that's not populated by L. Ron Hubbard acolytes, and you have an intriguing scenario prima facie. Peter (think about the name) is a minister who, aspiring to be useful, signs up for a stint, courtesy of one of the world’s ruling corporations, on far-off Oasis, a forbidding chunk of rock on which the crew of the Nostromo, of Alien fame, wouldn’t be out of place. “This was not Gethsemane: he wasn’t headed for Golgotha, he was embarking on a great adventure.” So he thinks, allowing for his habit of casting events in religiously hallucinogenic terms. The natives are shy—and who wouldn’t be, given the rough humans who have come there before Peter—but receptive to his message, which deepens as Peter becomes more and more involved with his mission. Trouble is, things aren’t good back on Earth: His wife, with child, is staring what appear to be the end times in the face, even as life on Oasis, as one human denizen snarls, turns out to be “sorta like the Rapture by committee.” Is Peter good enough to make it through the second coming? He’s lived, as we learn, a fully charged sinner’s life before becoming saintly, and he’s just one crisis of faith away from meriting incineration along with the rest of the unholy; good thing the alien-tongued aliens of Oasis will put in a good word for him, even though their tongue may not be entirely comprehensible. Faber’s novel runs a touch long but is entirely true to itself and wonderfully original. It makes a fine update to Walter M. Miller Jr.’s Canticle for Leibowitz, with some Marilynne Robinson–like homespun theology thrown in for good measure. 

What would Jesus do if he wore a space helmet? A profoundly religious exploration of inner turmoil, and one sure to irk the Pat Robertson crowd in its insistence on the primacy of humanity.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-553-41884-2
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Hogarth/Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2014




6 MUST-READS TO FINISH IN THE LAST 6 WEEKS OF THE YEAR:

NonfictionJUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson
by Bryan Stevenson
FictionTHE BOOK OF STRANGE NEW THINGS by Michel Faber
by Michel Faber
NonfictionTHE INNOVATORS by Walter Isaacson
by Walter Isaacson
FictionMERMAIDS IN PARADISE by Lydia Millet
by Lydia Millet

MORE BY MICHEL FABER

FictionTHE FIRE GOSPEL by Michel Faber
by Michel Faber
FictionVANILLA BRIGHT LIKE EMINEM by Michel Faber
by Michel Faber
FictionTHE COURAGE CONSORT by Michel Faber
by Michel Faber

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

Sci-FiSEVENEVES by Neal Stephenson
by Neal Stephenson
FictionEDEN by Stanislaw Lem
by Stanislaw Lem
FictionSLADE HOUSE by David Mitchell
by David Mitchell