How far would you go on faith? Peter Leigh, the protagonist of Michel Faber’s new novel, will go anywhere God asks ... The Book of Strange New Things offers none of that snark or spark ... Here Faber doggedly explores religious faith, romantic faith, earth on the brink of apocalypse and a world in which, as Peter observes, 'We are the aliens' ... Her exchanges with Peter provide opportunities for back story ... With his marriage and native planet deteriorating, Peter’s love and faith are sorely tested ... The real issue is author’s choice to write with a flat, guileless prose echoing his protagonist. Faber’s created a jewelry box of potential but seems as incurious about exploring it as Peter himself.
...is cool because it's a remarkable work of imagination and genius. A 'poignant meditation on humanity,' a mesmerizing exploration of faith and love and a 'genre-defying' masterpiece ... Faber's great strength, trotted out right from the opening pages — this ability to write believable, lovely, flawed and inept characters. To animate his creations by exposing their great loves and human frailties, and to make us want, somehow, to follow along behind them as they traipse across the pages, the miles and, in short order, the light-years ...Faber brings little that's new or original to the trope, save a masterful skill for sketching the slow accretion of dread and mistrust in the hearts of his characters ...Faber tells a beautifully human story of love, loss, faith and the sometimes uncrossable distances between people. It feels, more than anything, like an achingly gentle 500-page first chapter to an apocalypse novel yet to come.
...Michel Faber's The Book of Strange New Things uses intergalactic travel and planet colonization as a backdrop, even a mechanism, to explore complicated emotional terrain ... physical setting of the novel is otherworldly. But the most salient environment in Faber's story is one readers will find familiar: a marriage at a crossroads ... Peter is a Christian minister who has come to spread the word of God to the Oasans. He is also deeply in love with his supportive wife Bea. We learn that they both applied for the mission, but only Peter was accepted to make the journey by the shadowy corporation that runs things on Oasis ... A bit more development of the back stories of Peter's human counterparts might have enhanced the reader's connection with these characters ...an emotionally wrenching drama of a couple separated by vast distance, struggling to understand one another.
Here's the overview of the novel: Peter, a Christian pastor, has been accepted to go on a mission to a planet in another galaxy, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spread the Gospel to the – what should he call them? Creatures? Beings? – living there ... Faber, whose writing is never less than exact and compelling, excels at showing us Oasis and the Oasens through Peter's eyes ...being a wonderful adventure story, a quasi-science fiction tale and a probing examination of a marriage, The Book of Strange New Things is also a sharp look at the tenets of Christianity ...to his credit, doesn't attempt to answer these questions, nor does he allow them to weigh down the book's forward propulsion. But the questions are there for the musing, and they enrich a truly strange and wonderful novel.
The Book of the title refers to the copy of the Bible that a preacher named Peter Leigh brings with him on the missionary trip of a lifetime, to a planet named Oasis ...Faber’s interests here lie with faith, belief and the ways in which we know and bear responsibility for one another ...Leigh is sent off by his wife at the start of the story, which Faber captures in perfectly disjointed writing, mixing the events leading up to his liftoff in much the same way one would find memories combined, overlapping ... Faber lets the story develop slowly, naturally — there aren’t stereotypical science-fiction plot devices shoehorned in to move the narrative along ...the scope of Faber’s writing narrows in to try answering big questions of love and faith.
...also a meditation on the nature of religious faith, a theme that also dominates Faber’s latest novel, The Book of Strange New Things ... Faber eases his readers gently into the strangeness of his imagined world. The novel opens as Christian pastor Peter Leigh is preparing to be separated from his wife Bea for the first time since their marriage ... Faber crafts a sense of dislocation through the accumulation of meticulous detail ...a slow-burning novel in pared-back prose; momentous apocalyptic events take place at a distance, relayed in Bea’s messages, while Peter’s life is focused on small, everyday dramas... Readers resistant to sci-fi may take a while to warm to the setting, but their patience will be rewarded.
The new novel is set in the not-too-distant future. Peter and Beatrice Leigh are a young English couple on their way to Heathrow. Both are born-again Christians. As Faber tells us many times throughout this 500-page book, Peter has a checkered past ... Soon, Peter is setting up a mission for the natives, who tell him, in a dialect Faber occasionally renders unreadable with his use of made-up characters, that they are hungry for the word of God ... The title of each chapter is the chapter’s last line, a gimmick that wears thin quickly. And there’s not enough tension here to justify the novel’s length, an absence that makes stylistic tics more prominent ... And Faber’s ability to conjure strange new worlds remains impressive. How sad that a gifted storyteller who has done such fine work in the past has decided not to write anymore.