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Under the Skin

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  10,872 ratings  ·  1,425 reviews
In this haunting, entrancing novel, Michel Faber introduces us to Isserley, a female driver who cruises the Scottish Highlands picking up hitchhikers. 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. A grotesque and comical allegory, Under th ...more
Paperback, 296 pages
Published 2010 by Canongate Books (first published 2000)
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Brian I first watched the movie, then read the book. Both disturbing, unsettling and compelling. And both I would recommend, yet both are quite different.…moreI first watched the movie, then read the book. Both disturbing, unsettling and compelling. And both I would recommend, yet both are quite different. The book is indeed a slow reveal, but it achieves this through challenging the readers assumptions about language and ideas. I enjoyed being tricked by the author - he made me pay attention to the words the characters were using. A film director attempting to recreate the scenes and plot lines from the book would pretty much be giving the game away early.
There is quite a lot of dialogue in the book, particularly dealing with ethical questions and ideas of class and exploitation. In the film, however, the film maker relies primarily on images to tell the story - it is a very quiet film, and the ideas hit you via emotional reactions to the scenes. The scene on the beach for me was devastating and powerful, and it was not drawn from the book. I appreciate film makers like this who latch onto some ideas from a text then make the story their own, telling it in a different medium.(less)
Michael Sussman I was initially intrigued by the author's writing style and the many questions raised by the opening of the story. The more I read, however, the more…moreI was initially intrigued by the author's writing style and the many questions raised by the opening of the story. The more I read, however, the more tiresome and incoherent I found the novel. I forced myself to read the whole thing, only to be disappointed at the minimal payoff. I haven't a clue as to why this novel received so many positive newspaper reviews and was even adapted for the screen. From what I've read, the movie is more interesting than the book.(less)
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Paul Bryant

This is a very unusul situation for me, but this is a very unusual book. I'm actually looking extremely forward to seeing the movie. The director Jonathan Glazer doesn't do many movies but he did do Sexy Beast which is a must-see, and he did do this amazing advert :

So bring it on!

And now, the original book review.


Things I love about Under the Skin

- the heroine is really creepy
- the whole situation is really mental (that's a literary term coin
Since you asked for my opinion on hitchhiking, don’t do it.

My grandfather was on his way to pick up my uncle for the Christmas holiday when he stopped for two male hitchhikers. They forced him to an abandoned house, beat him with a two-by-four, and drove off. Police found his cold, naked body two weeks later. My mom was eleven years old.

Clearly, picking up hitchhikers is a big no-no in my family. Now this book warns me against the other side of hitchhiking: standing by the road with your thumb
Jun 08, 2015 Carmen rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Carmen by: Movie

Isserley, too, often ventured out at hours of such prehistoric stillness that her vehicle might have been the first ever. It was as if she had been set down on a world so newly finished that mountains might still have some shifting to do and the wooded valleys might yet be recast as seas.

Okay. This book is not what you are expecting at all. I am going to put the general (non-ending, non-detailed) description of the plot under a spoiler tag, because
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 03, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Surprisingly good. The book will keep you turning the pages because of the slow tease. In the end, I was expecting something like The Silence of the Lambs but Faber probably anticipated it and he brought me to a place I've never been before. That's despite that I already have 700+ books in different genres in my read folder. Definitely my first time to have encountered and read something like this.

It is a story of a pickup lady named Isserly. She drives back and forth in a Scottish highway looki
Under the Skin is a reviewer's nightmare - it's literally impossible to discuss this book without touching the plot, and the whole thing hinges on mystery that surrounds it. This is a novel which is all about the big reveal, and Michel Faber delights in teeeeeeasing the reader with the smallest of hints and nudges.

All I can tell you, spoiler free, is this - an attractive, lone woman, Isserley, drives on the A9 motorway through the Scottish Highlands, searching for hitch-hikers. She drives along
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Annnnnd now I can see the movie, whose trailer is the reason I read this book in the first place. The whole book-to-screen experience should have some degree of order to it, even if nothing else does in life. Especially if nothing else does in life. Book first 4 eva!

On the film's trailer/synopsis/general promotion, just a couple of things: 1) There's a spoiler innit concerning the who-what of the main character that the book opted to slow-reveal, which creates this weird situation where the tra
MJ Nicholls
Caution, spoilers! A modern fable on any number of potential issues—animal cruelty? corporate greed? human brutality?—set in a version of the Highlands where multiple people hitchhike each day (I go frequently to the Highlands and I’ve never seen no hitchhikers—maybe Faber ate them all?) The story begins with our big-breasted heroine Isserley picking up a series of unemployed assholes and stabbing them in the buttocks with a stun chemical activated via her dashboard. She drives her victims, know ...more
Sometime in March Craig posted on our book group Facebook page the following message:

“Hello Group,
At the risk of sounding alarmist, I want to alarm you all.
I am currently rereading Under The Skin for about the sixth time, and I noticed today from tube adverts that the film adaptation is out March 14 or 15. Now, I utterly hate it when things are oversold to me, but if you ever want to experience this novel - which is among the most extraordinary I've ever read - in the manner in which it was inte
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Now here's a book that went from an intriguing premise, to gripping me at the first page, to totally taking over my mind - it's definitely going to be one of the best books I've read this year, I can tell you that now. I read this back in March and itched to write a review straight away, but made myself wait till it was next in line - I wish I hadn't now, because my thoughts were so buzzing at the time it would have made a more interesting and energetic review!

It's also a tricky one to review, o

It's an uncanny novel. Although it starts out as a classic thriller , Faber from first pages is playing with readers and misleading them. Repeating for The Times here nothing is what it seems and you become disoriented because this book is nothing like you had ever read before. At the same time engaging and repulsive. Unsettling.

I'm not sure what I expected but was absolutely suprised.Faber consistently builds tension and leads us out of the atmosphere of horror in total fantasy, mixes so man
Jan 18, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any sci fi fans and vegetarians
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
A lonely stretch of road. A ribbon of slick tarmac stretching into the distant Scottish Highlands. There are few people around and every hitch hiker has to take their chances. After all what could possibly be dangerous about the young woman with the large eyes?

Beware of dark roads. Beware of the kindness of strangers. Evocative and well written, this is a difficult book to review without spewing forth spoiler after spoiler in a big frothing pool of spoiler vomit. Therefore I will not write too
Palmina Briggs
Jul 31, 2007 Palmina Briggs rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is one of the creepiest books I've read in years. It's also terrific - all kinds of props are due Michel Faber. He not only has the creative imagination to come up with such a bizarre, mesmerizing story; he also has the writing chops to execute it brilliantly. I can't think of any story I've read in the last several years that ratchets up the horror quotient so steadily, and so effectively. He's in total control throughout (hard to believe this was his first novel), writing in a style that' ...more
We did see the movie version of this book on Netflix a few weeks ago,althou,hubby didn't care for the movie,but me,that was a different story.I liked it!The main protagonist in the movie was Scarlett Johanssan,so I just HAD to read the book and Im soooo glad I did!The book seem to fill the gaps of the movie version,but at the same time,there are hardly,that many similar things going on between both,the book/movie.The book is one of the most bizarre and unique and unusual sci-fi storys I have rea ...more
3.0 to 3.5 stars. Very original and well written. The writer does an excellent job of unfolding the story slowly but still keeping the reader interested the entire time.
Michel Faber evidently likes writing about the seedier side of life, but with a twist. He wrote the wonderful The Crimson Petal and the White about an aspirational Victorian prostitute, and in this contemporary novel, a rather strange woman picks up hunky male hitchhikers for nefarious, but initially unspecified purposes. The assumption that this would be an unpleasantly graphic account of sex crimes was unfounded. It's a tricky book to categorise, but in many ways, it reminded me of Never Let M ...more
I really did not enjoy this book! It is not often I am this blatant about a book when I have actually finished it but I honestly couldn’t find any redeeming qualities at all. What I am even more annoyed about is that I kept on reading thinking that at least there would be some big revelation and reward for my time invested in reading it.

It’s really difficult to say anything about Under the Skin without giving anything away but to summarise as much as I can without ruining it for anyone else bra
3.5 stars.

Under the Skin was definitely not what I was expecting it to be. As someone who saw the film adaptation first, I should warn you that this is almost nothing like the film, on pretty much every level you could think of.

What Faber has crafted with his debut novel is a melancholic commentary on existence, rights, and what it means to be human. The novel follows Isserley whose job is to drive around the Scottish highlands and pick up well-built male hitchhikers. The purpose of which is not
I am thisclose to giving this book 4.5 stars -- I found it verynearly amazing, but it fell just slightly short of that for me.

Here's my advice for anyone interested in reading this book -- do not read ANYTHING about it before reading. Don't read reviews, don't read the back cover, don't even read the blurbs on the front. Just go into it completely cold.

So, having said that, what in the world can I say about this book without ruining it?

I can tell you that it opens with a woman named Isserley dr
A very interesting and nauseating book. For a long time, you have no clue whatsoever what is going on, but you have strong suspicions it is not going to be pleasant at all to find out. You are disoriented but intrigued about the strange hitchhiking adventures of the main character Isserley. Still, you are unprepared when it hits you on the head. The discovery is so fantastic that it stops you in your tracks. I really liked how Michael Faber shows us a view of our world from a very different pers ...more
Joe Valdez
Apr 28, 2014 Joe Valdez rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Hitchhikers, carnivores, lonely hearts
Shelves: sci-fi-general
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Simonne Davis
Hmmm... What can I say about this book... I didn't dislike it and yet.. I wasn't entirely sure why I kept reading - I think I probably wanted more grissly details... which unfortunately never came!

It certainly wasn't the kind of read I was expecting from Michael Faber and I felt that the plot didn't really expand any further by the end of the book than it had in the first few pages. It hasn't put me off Michael Faber because I enjoy his style of writing.. would I recommend you pick this up...?
Joanne Sheppard
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Every day, Isserley drives the roads of the Scottish Highlands looking for beefy male hitchhikers to pick up--but not for the reasons that anyone would expect. Isolated from home, out of place among the hitchhikers, Isserley is the only link between two cultures. Under the Skin is a nightmare to summarize and even harder to review because the truth of Isserley's identity and role is a huge spoiler which is crucial to book's plot and message. Nonetheless it's safe to say: the first half of the bo ...more
Victoria Karalun
This book is odd, weird, strange, and bizarre. It is also highly disturbing. It begins with a girl named Isserley, driving the Scottish freeways daily to look for hitchhikers. The impact of this book depends on knowing no more than that, so all I will say is that it made me think about things in a different way. Highly recommended.

Later edit: Bumped to 5 stars on second reading. There really is a lot in this book to think about and discuss.
The scariest book Ive ever read. Had a little to do with why I am a vegetarian now.
Léonard Gaya
I have been drawn to this book after watching the striking film recently released, inspired by Faber's novel and starring Scarlett Johansson. My account of the book is based on my reading half of it only. I have to admit that it just jumped out of my hands.

This book si a very unsettling, even sickening one. The story is rather casual at first, eventually horrifying: a young woman, who drives around in the Scottish Highlands, takes hunky hitch-hikers in her car and, after a short interview, decid
Faber conjura un mundo paralelo al nuestro, cruel y retorcido en cuanto a sus formas y sus clases, y sólo nos lo deja entrever a través de cuatro o cinco comentarios oportunos. Es la sombra de un monstruo, negra y difusa, lo único que tenemos para saber a qué nos enfrentamos. Y en este juego de luces y oscuridades sobresale una novela notable. Una novela de ciencia ficción o fantasía o paranoia dirigida en el que se puede hablar de feminismo, de renuncia, de identidad colectiva, de medioambiente ...more
Rebecca eley
Jun 15, 2011 Rebecca eley added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: don't bother it's terrible
Recommended to Rebecca by: me
If I could give it 0 stars I would, in fact less than no stars would be apt.

I was lured by a hint of cult fiction. I rarely take against books to such a degree and never before have I felt a compulsion to write a review but I feel I should warn all readers who are looking for something a bit off the beaten track you will be left empty by this book. If you have a few hours to kill drive up the A9 it will be a better experience and by the end you may feel you have achieved something.

There could
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Worthwhile to read after watching? 21 109 May 22, 2015 06:56AM  
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Michel Faber (born 13 April 1960) is a Dutch writer of English-language fiction.

Faber was born in The Hague, The Netherlands. He and his parents emigrated to Australia in 1967. He attended primary and secondary school in the Melbourne suburbs of Boronia and Bayswater, then attended the University Of Melbourne, studying Dutch, Philosophy, Rhetoric, English Language (a course involving translation a
More about Michel Faber...
The Crimson Petal and the White The Book of Strange New Things The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories The Courage Consort The Fire Gospel

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“Shared suffering, she’d found, was no guarantee of intimacy.” 11 likes
“The word troubled her, though. ‘Indispensable.’ It was a word people tended to resort to when dispensability was in the air.” 7 likes
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