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The Book of Strange New Things

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  29,761 ratings  ·  4,340 reviews
A monumental, genre-defying novel over ten years in the making, Michel Faber's The Book of Strange New Things is a masterwork from a writer in full command of his many talents.

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 astonish
Hardcover, 500 pages
Published October 28th 2014 by Hogarth Press (first published October 6th 2014)
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Rick Smith I also felt like M. Faber didn't really finish this book. I had an idea or two where the narrative was headed, but in the end nothing happened. Ambigu…moreI also felt like M. Faber didn't really finish this book. I had an idea or two where the narrative was headed, but in the end nothing happened. Ambiguous endings can be fun, and are sometimes necessary, but you have to care about the main characters. I didn't here.(less)

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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  29,761 ratings  ·  4,340 reviews

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Sam Quixote
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Sometime in the future, humanity has discovered they are not alone in the universe: on a distant planet named Oasis dwells a race of supremely ugly aliens (their faces are described as two foetuses fused together!) - and they LOVE Jeebus. So much so that they’re withholding food from the handful of human colonists on their planet until they get a replacement missionary.

Enter Peter Leigh, a former homeless junkie thief turned born-again Christian minister selected by the USIC Corporation to be s
Will Byrnes
Of course, everybody on earth had the power to reshape reality. It was one of the things Peter and Beatrice talked about a lot. The challenge of getting people to grasp that life was only as grim and confining as you perceived it to be. The challenge of getting people to see that all the immutable facts of existence were not so immutable after all.
Sustaining a relationship over a long distance presents serious challenges. I tried it once or twice in my twenties. Of course that was back bef
Rick Riordan
Nov 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An adult sci fi novel with an intriguing premise: Mankind has reached its first extraterrestrial world, Oasis, and the giant corporation USIC is working hard to build a colony there while economic and climatic conditions on earth continue to deteriorate. There's one hitch to their plans: the natives of Oasis want a preacher. They've had a limited introduction to the Christian faith, but after their first human pastor mysteriously goes missing, they refuse to provide food to the human settlers un ...more
Jessica Woodbury
This book is mesmerizing. I couldn't stop reading it. And when it was over I felt like I'd just finished something amazing, but I also felt like I wasn't sure if I understood what I experienced. (I even re-read it a couple months later and enjoyed it even more.)

I am deeply impressed by Faber's book and the fact that it centers around a man of faith. As someone who has lived with and without religion in my life, I do find it odd that it does not play a greater role in art and literature. Faber le


We’re the aliens here.

This book can easily be (mis)taken as generic sci-fi, exploring the impact of colonialism on the existing inhabitants, as well as the newcomers: in the near future, a Christian minister leaves his beloved wife and travels through hyperspace to a human colony on another planet, where his role is to evangelise to alien beings.

That is the medium, but it’s not the message. The message isn’t even the Biblical one that saved Peter from drugs and homelessness, and led
Paul Bryant
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I made a note at the 200 page mark :

I wouldn’t say the story so far is implausible, just like the captain of the Titanic didn’t say that the thing directly ahead was a bloody gigantic iceberg. But I have so many questions about what’s going on here which Mr Faber is straight-facedly refusing to either acknowledge or answer that I may explode.

However by the end of the 584th page new, happier thoughts had formed :

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of an extremely dubious plot, I
Ron Charles
At the end of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells his disciples, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

For a while now, evangelicals have had to restrict their preaching to creatures on this planet, but someday, who knows? Will the heathens of Andromeda embrace the good news about a man who was nailed to a cross a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?

I can remember debating that essential question late at night as an undergrad at my little Christian college in Illino
Jason McKinney
Jul 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
Ugh...I hated this. I absolutely loved Under the Skin, but this was a huge disappointment. It was endlessly tedious, the protagonist was not very likable and the plot itself just never really came together. It's amazing because the reviews on GR have been largely glowing, but this was just a huge bust. The Book of Strange New Things? More like The (Endless) Book of Tedious Plot and Lame Characters. ...more
Joe Valdez
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Book of Strange New Things, the 2014 science fiction novel by Michel Faber, is one of those books that sealed me in a barrel, rolled me down a hill, off a cliff, into rapids and over a waterfall. I feel dizzy having just been let out of the barrel by the author. Faber jettisoned me across the galaxy to an alien planet but instead of painstakingly building a new world, relocated me to one where the more things change, the more they stay the same. Instead of describing fantastic creatures, int ...more
Violet wells
May 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia
No surprise this gets an endorsement from David Mitchell because it’s a fabulous feat of wiring exuberant entertainment into intelligent storytelling, a bit like the literary equivalent of Stephen Spielberg. The secret of this novel’s immense charm maybe is that appeals to the teenager inside. In fact, when, towards the end, it loses some of its charm it’s because it’s stopped appealing to the teenager inside. It’s suddenly got a bit earnestly serious on us, it’s forsaken its ironic mischief and ...more
I think this Tome Topple has taught me that I don’t really care for literary fiction, except on very rare occasions. This was beautifully written but overall, sad and unsatisfying. It gets 3 stars for the writing. 2 stars if the writing wasn’t so good.
Yzabel Ginsberg
(I got a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

At first I thought I'd rate this book higher: its beginning as well as premise were quite catchy, and I was fairly intrigued at what Peter, the main character, found on planet Oasis, as well as to what would happen with Beatrice, how they'd keep in contact, whether their relationship would hold, and so on.

There are very strong moments in it, especially when contrasting Peter's privileged experience to Bea's day-to-day life. (The
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it

There's this writer thing that happens on Twitter every six months or so: #PitMad, when Aspiring Novelists craft a 140-character pitch of their novel and it's read by a bunch of literary agents. If you tweet a good pitch, you might get a manuscript request or two. Totally soulless. But hey. It's the Brave New World of No Attention Span.

If I were the author of The Book of Strange New Things, my Twitter pitch might reading something like this: Ex-druggie pastor leaves pregnant wife o
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
My thoughts about this book are complicated. With The Book of Strange New Things, Michel Faber tackles really big epistemological and existential issues through the journey of an English preacher to outer space. Peter, our protagonist, is sent by a mysterious corporation called USIC to be a pastor to the alien race on a planet trillions of lightyears away called the Oasis. It's an interesting premise and a unique blend of sci-fi and literary fiction, but I don't think it really delivers on what ...more
Sarah (Presto agitato)
“That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight
Losing my religion.”

—R.E.M. (1991)

For Peter, it’s the chance of a lifetime. He is a Christian minister chosen to be part of a carefully selected group that has established a settlement on another planet. Peter’s role is to reach out to the native, non-human population, putting him in a position to spread the word of Jesus to a far-flung new outpost of Christendom. Unfortunately, his wife must stay behind on earth during the mission, but they both
Dec 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a thoughtful and absorbing work of modern science fiction.

The Book of Strange New Things is the story of Peter, a missionary who is hired by the mysterious company USIC, and is sent to a distant planet to serve both the human and alien population there. Once on the planet, Peter's only connection to earth are electronic messages from his wife, who tells him about horrible events taking place around the world, including weather disasters and a global financial collapse, which causes soci
Michael Jensen
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
The Book of Really Dull Things Where Not Much Happens Except a Bunch of Critics Reveal Themselves to be Hacks Two and a half stars

Since I absolutely loved The Crimson Petal and the White and very much enjoyed Under the Skin, it pains me deeply to say how much I disliked Michel Faber's The Book of Strange New Things which seems to me be another example of the Emperor has no clothes. Much like Emma Staub's The Vacationers, Strange New Things has become a critical darling despite the fact that it i
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2014
I know that I am often swayed in my opinions by reviews. For that reason, I try to avoid them before I read something. About half way through The Book of Strange New Things I couldn't resist checking a few. I was curious, not so much about the critical opinion of the book, which I assumed was high based on the cover pull quotes and the marketing campaign, but because of the hard to miss racism and hints of homophobia. One character is literally compared to a monkey. Nearly every female character ...more
Diane S ☔
Aug 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I am not a reader who chooses science fiction, I generally don't have much interest in made-up worlds. Yet, I have to admit to liking this book quite a bit.

Peter, a minister on Earth has the opportunity to interview for a position of preaching to an alien colony on some unnamed planet. He is accepted, though his wife Bea is not. For five years they will be apart, with Peter making enough money for them to be set-up for life. Their only contact will be messages sent through a device called "The S
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2014
I can't recall the last time I was so utterly transported by a book - so imaginative and completely absorbing! I lived it, thought it, dreamed it.....I'm still thinking about it.

A British pastor, Peter Leigh, is chosen in a very rigorous process by a mysterious mega-corporation called USIC, to travel to another galaxy to minister to a native population he knows nothing about. To do so, he must leave his beloved wife, Beatrice, behind for a period of time. Once on the planet called Oasis, he will
Nov 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars

Never woulda thunk it.

Despite generally positive reviews from my friends of Michel Faber's Christianity in the Cosmos yarn The Book of Strange New Things, for months I could not summon the patience to check it out. I figured it was going to be either too heavily sci-fi (read: totally lacking credibility) or too proselytizing for me to derive any enjoyment from it.

It's a testament to Faber's ebullient storytelling prowess that he was able to win me over with something that I had no inter
Helene Jeppesen
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It took me half a year to pick up this book and that was definitely a mistake. What made me hesitate was the premise: This was a sic-fi book set on another planet, where the main character, Peter, was a pastor preaching for aliens? It didn't sound like anything for me at all.
However, with time more and more people read it and praised it and I got more and more curious. Eventually, I decided to pick it up from the library, and once I started reading, I knew that I was in love!
This book is so fa
Joy D
Peter is selected by an American corporation to serve as one of the first Christian missionaries to native inhabitants of the planet Oasis. He leaves his wife at home in London. A previous minister had disappeared, along with a linguist that taught English to the Oasans. He finds the Oasans receptive to the “Book of Strange New Things,” their name for the Bible. He works with them in their settlement to build a church, returning periodically to the USIC base to communicate with his wife on earth ...more
(4.5) As beautiful as it is unsettling, this is a novel that will remain with you. Certainly there are aliens, but by no means can this book be relegated to the realms of sci-fi pulp. It is a very this-worldly story, blending a believable dystopian vision of Earth, commentary on cultural and religious imperialism, and a poignant portrait of a marriage under impossible strain.

Suburban London vicar Peter Leigh won the appointment of a lifetime: he will travel light years away to minister to the na
Mar 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who would ever have imagined that I would be fully submerged in a scifi novel whose protagonist is a missionary transported to a planet at a distance of a trillion miles from earth! What is even more remarkable is that a pastor had been urgently requested by the native people of the planet, thus not by the scientists and engineers who are establishing a base for future human habitation. 'Native people' is, of course, a wrong denomination, we could use 'aliens', but who are the aliens in this pla ...more
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Science fiction? Religion? Aliens desperately wanting to hear the word of God? Are these the things you should know going into this book? Or is it better to ignore all that and simply pick it up, turn page after page, and read the words of Michel Faber?

I am so glad I read this after The Crimson Petal and the White, because then I knew what an amazing writer Michel Faber is and that most certainly I won’t be feeling preached at. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of wanting or not wanting t
Michel Faber's new novel, due to be released on October 28, is itself a book of strange new things. I remember devouring his previous novel, The Crimson Petal and the White. It was historical fiction about a prostitute, a bestseller, mildly trashy but with good writing and a fabulous heroine. The Book of Strange New Things is not any of that.

Peter is a recovering alcoholic and drug user who became a minister after he met and married Beatrice, who nursed him through his final overdose. He is dee
What the heck did I just read? As I write this review I still do not know how to answer that question. The plot of The Book of Strange New Things centers on Peter Leigh, a man of faith who embarks on a mission to evangelize a group of aliens he calls the Oasans. Meanwhile, his wife on earth, Beatrice, suffers as their home planet collapses due to natural disasters. Peter drifts farther away from Bea the closer he gets to the Oasans. He soon must decide who or what matters most to him: his wife o ...more
May 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, reviewed
This book is not easy to classify, but I think it leans more toward literary fiction than it does to science fiction. Peter, an English minister who is married to Bea, a nurse, has been chosen by a mysterious corporation called USIC for a mission to Oasis. Oasis is a planet in another solar system trillions of miles from Earth. Peter's title is Minister (Christian) to Indigenous Population.

While Peter deals with his new congregation, Bea must deal with a proliferation of increasingly ominous di
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
4.0 Stars
Sometimes I read a book at exactly the right moment. This was one of those times.

I absolutely loved the ideas behind this novel. While this is technically about alien contact, this was really a story about relationships. The novel explored how these relationships can become strained over emotional & physical distances. As a married woman, this story hit home for me in so many personal ways. The tone of the story was more sad than I expected, which unfortunately did slightly dampen my r
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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

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