Thursday, March 07, 2019
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
The Book of Strange New Things is my first book by Michel Faber. In spite of the gushing praise I read about The Crimson Petal and the White, a few years back, I haven't gotten around to reading it, yet. In this case, the book was chosen for me. My eldest son has been talking about The Book of Strange New Things for some time, now, and last year he brought his copy along when he came for a visit. I knew I was going to have to return it to him, soon, so I tacked that and a book my other son wants me to read onto my personal challenges for 2019.
In The Book of Strange New Things, Peter is a preacher who used to be an alcoholic until his wife, Bea, introduced him to Christianity when he was down and out and she was his nurse. When Peter gets the chance to travel to another planet to preach the gospel, he's excited to go and disappointed that Bea can't join him.
On Oasis, Peter's stunned to find a peaceful native population and an oddly lifeless group of humans. He quickly discovers that he's happier living with the natives. But, back on Earth, things are going from bad to worse. A string of natural disasters, shortages, and violence is exhausting Bea. Shocked by Peter's emotional distance, she begins to lose the faith that used to be so strong that she was able to share it with Peter and pull him out of alcoholism. Will Peter "go native" and stay on Oasis or will he realize that Bea needs him and find a way to return to Earth?
Recommended but not a favorite - I never saw any kind of a timeline for this futuristic story but I thought of it as another "near future" story because of the fact that the natural disasters mostly appeared to be the result of climate change and most of what happens is among the kind of events that are expected to occur within a relatively short time period if we don't effing do something to mitigate climate change. But, of course, we don't have the technology to travel to distant planets, so you just have to wild-guess at the time period. At any rate, I was not as enamored of The Book of Strange New Things as my eldest son. I found it a little too slow and lacking in conflict. Most of the conflict that exists is between Peter and Bea or Peter warring with himself. It's mild. There were times I fully expected something major to happen and got a little nervous about what might be coming and then . . . nope. I did like the ending, though, and I don't regret reading the book.
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