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Under the Skin
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1001 book reviews > Under the Skin - Michel Faber

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Kristel (kristelh) | 4261 comments Mod
Under the Skin Rating: 4.167

I've had this book since 2014, glad to finally finish it. It was a quick read. I did not know that the author, Micehl Faber, is considered to be a Scottish Author (he lives there now), a Dutch author (he was born there), and an Australian author (most of his school years were spent there). According to Wikipedia, his themes are not particular to any of the countries but "European".

Under the Skin is the first of his books to be published. This story is science fiction and horror. The protagonist Isserley is picking up hitchhikers. This story is set in Scotland. The reader is slowly given more and more information about why she is picking up these hitchhikers and what Isserley is and what she has gone through to obtain this job.

There is a grossness to this book when you find out what is being done with these male hitchhikers. It's a bit disconcerting to find that Isserley and her compatriots view these hitchhikers as animals and they, the humans.

Its themes include sexism, big business, factory farming, and cruelty. Over all the book was a fast read, entertaining (however gross), and a bit preachy. I don't think I would want to see this movie.


Amanda Dawn | 1245 comments Listened to this one within 2 days at work/preparing for my candidacy at the library, and for a short book it was...affecting in weird ways. Disquieting...mostly disquieting. But well done, with a lot of larger societal themes drawn upon in really evocative ways so I gave it 4 stars. But I agree with Kristel, not sure I want to see the movie lol.

The way the aliens make assumptions about "Vodsels" (humans) being acceptable to eat because they don't meet their arbitrarily parameters of peoplehood (which are never actually explained) really played well into the ways in which we've defined humanity that are now receding (ie finding out dolphins have self awareness, monkeys hold funerals, crows play for fun), and challenge our justifications for how we treat animals. Especially in the context of factory farming. The vodsel processing scenes were so gross, it made me even more interested in not consuming factory farmed meat (I do okay in that department but stuff like this always makes me aware I could do better).

The way predation is subverted unto men by a woman in this novel was great too, as a way to potentially contextualize women's fears of assault and lack of safety in the world for male readers.

Overall, glad I read and would recommend to other dark scifi fans, but would not read again.


Diane  | 2051 comments Rating: 4 stars


A refreshingly different read for me, even if it was disturbing. An woman of small stature and odd appearance picks up hitchhikers in the Scottish countryside. Why does she do this and what happens to the hitchhikers? What makes us human?

I didn't realize this was Sci-fi before reading it or even in the beginning of the book. By the end of the book, the reader is very much immersed in science fiction territory. Not my usual genre, but a creative and thought-provoking book overall.


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