The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber
(Hogarth, 2014, 500 pages)
This was something of an impulse read for me. It was on my radar from seeing it mentioned/reviewed in a number of different places, but I wasn’t actively setting out to pick up The Book of Strange New Things. The title just happened to show up as “available” while I was looking into selecting my next eBook. I was pleasantly surprised with how quickly I became invested in the novel.
Set in an indeterminate future Peter has been selected to go into space to serve as the minister for an alien race on another planet known as Oasis. He leaves behind his wife, Bea, and literally finds himself in a new world where nothing is familiar. Peter’s interaction with the Oasans is far from what he ever could have expected. Those that want to hear from him and “The Book of Strange New Things” (how they refer to the Bible) welcome him with eagerness and open arms. While Peter works among them and adapts to his new reality, Bea is back home in a world that seems to be experiencing the end of days.
Peter and Bea are able to communicate via a very basic email system and as time passes the reality of how different their situations are becomes more and more apparent. As Peter quickly finds himself adapting to life as a religious leader for the Oasans, Bea is suffering and struggling with her faith.
The Book of Strange New Things definitely held my attention and had me eager to pick the book back up whenever I set it down. Despite its length it’s a quick read. And while there is obviously a science fiction element to the book (space travel, aliens, etc.) it doesn’t necessarily feel like you’re reading science fiction, per se. That could be because of the religious element, I’m not sure. Regardless, I’m glad I picked this book up. If you’re looking for something different I would recommend giving this book a try.