Review: The Book of Strange New Things – Michel Faber

bosnt_collage_copy_2569_0This book has left me in a book hangover. I just cannot express how amazing this book is. Firstly, let’s just cover some general housekeeping. I loved The Crimson Petal and the White – in fact, I’m planning to re-read it next year some time (especially after reading this). Faber’s way with words is just extraordinary and I genuinely believe he could write about anything and it would be flawless. Naturally, I have a pile of Faber’s books to read on my bookshelf but this book, being as beautiful as it is and having the reviews that it did (especially from Jen, who I trust implicitly) I had to jump straight on this new, shiny, wonderful book.

This book is by no means tiny. Coming in at just shy of 600 pages it’s quite frankly a beast. But it’s a beast that I couldn’t put down. It’s a while since I read a book that I both wanted to savour every word of, hang on to and never let go but at the same time just devour it and find out what happens. I read this, essentially, in 4 sittings. Two of which were in my local Waterstones.

I don’t want to give too much away, because I want everyone and their aunt to read it. It’s about Peter Leigh – a pastor from England – who is chosen for a mission to a far flung world to give the word of God to the natives (the people on the mission call them aliens, but Peter is very quick to remind them that it’s humans who are in fact the aliens here). To do so, he must leave his beloved wife Beatrice behind with only the written word for communication. But this mission strains their relationship more than anticipated and faith is tested. There is of course a lot more to it than that, but I really, really don’t want to spoil this one for anyone. I just want to encourage everyone to pick it up.

There were unanswered questions; quite a number of them in fact but that didn’t seem to matter. There were a lot of characters who I wished to know more about; and truly I think I could have read another 200 or 300 pages of this because it is written so wonderfully. Grainger is just… I WANT TO HUG HER SO MUCH!

I’m a bit touchy with religion, I often find it hard to read about. But unlike the only other book that featured religion that I read this year (A Song for Issy Bradley) this didn’t seem preachy, even though it definitely contained more scripture than Issy Bradley did. But maybe it’s because, right now, I’m in a rough place. While I don’t consider myself the most religious person, I do have faith and maybe, just maybe, this book actually provided the words of comfort that I needed at this time. Or maybe it’s because the characters were a lot more flawed, more human and tangible irrespective of the circumstances we met them in.

All I know is this book is the best I have read this year by a long shot. 2015 literature has a lot to match up to!