Read Under the Skin by Michel Faber Online


In this haunting, entrancing novel, Michel Faber introduces us to Isserley, a female driver who cruises the Scottish Highlands picking up hitchhikers. Scarred and awkward, yet strangely erotic and threatening, she listens to her hitchhikers as they open up to her, revealing clues about who might miss them if they should disappear. A grotesque and comical allegory, Under thIn this haunting, entrancing novel, Michel Faber introduces us to Isserley, a female driver who cruises the Scottish Highlands picking up hitchhikers. Scarred and awkward, yet strangely erotic and threatening, she listens to her hitchhikers as they open up to her, revealing clues about who might miss them if they should disappear. A grotesque and comical allegory, Under the Skin takes us on a heart-thumping ride through dangerous territory — our own moral instincts and the boundaries of compassion — to present a surreal representation of contemporary society run amok....

Title : Under the Skin
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781841954806
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 296 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Under the Skin Reviews

  • Adina
    2019-05-27 13:59

    I was supposed to write this review a month ago but life happened and the right moment did not seem to materialize. I wanted to write a detail and spoilery analysis of the themes present but time passed and I don't feel capable to do it anymore. However, I feel obliged to write a few words.I will begin with the strong recommendation not to read any blurb before starting Under The Skin. The plot it is better to be explored without prior knowledge of the main mystery. Unfortunately, most blurbs and reviews include major spoilers. Please do not dismiss this novel because you see that the main genres is Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy. There might be a touch of SF but the main ideas have nothing to do with space travel and the such. Also, although I agree that there are a few creepy and disturbing scenes, I would not classify it as horror either. At its core, Under the skin is a moral story and asks the question of what makes us human? It might be consider an animal activism novel but i don't think this was the objective. It is more a discussion about identity, alienation, perception of humanity. Ultimately, the conclusion is that we all same under the skin.

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-06-10 18:44

    UPDATE!This is a very unusul situation for me, but this is a very unusual book. I'm actually looking extremely forward to seeing the movie. The director Jonathan Glazer doesn't do many movies but he did do Sexy Beast which is a must-see, and he did do this amazing advert : bring it on! And now, the original book review.******Things I love about Under the Skin- the heroine is really creepy- the whole situation is really mental (that's a literary term coined by F R Leavis in his seminal 1938 essay "Ezra Pound : Fucking Mental")- you only find out bit by bit and it gets weirder until you just can't stand it- it didn't put me off hitchhiking because I'd already served my time as a dedicated hitchhiker, I've got a car now, and anyway the heroine was looking for the beefy type which I could never be mistaken as, even in the mysterious Scottish gloaming, even if you were wearing sunglasses and you had a heavy head cold in the mysterious Scottish gloaming- Michel Faber wrote the Crimson Petal and the White which is my favourite 1000-page gonzo Modern Victorian skankfest and which is in a completely different style to this one and it never seems like he's dressing up in front of the mirror- it's a book where i can say here, cop yer whack for this flamboyant grotesquerie, it'll make you gag but you'll be a better person for it- it's suitable for vegetarians

  • Kevin Kelsey
    2019-05-31 17:56

    Compulsively creepy and disturbing in all the right ways. Orwellian by way of Le Guin or Octavia Butler. More Animal Farm than 1984. There was a little VanderMeer in there too. It's a moral story, without particularly taking any side; mostly just intended to provoke some discussing I imagine. It could easily be interpreted as an animal rights activism novel, but I'm not so sure it actually is. I really enjoyed this; very unnerving and hard to put down.edit: I read this before watching the film, and really enjoyed both. They are as different from each other as they are similar.

  • Cassy
    2019-05-22 15:57

    Since you asked for my opinion on hitchhiking, don’t do it.My grandfather was on his way to pick up my uncle for the Christmas holiday when he stopped for two male hitchhikers. They forced him to an abandoned house, beat him with a two-by-four, and drove off. Police found his cold, naked body two weeks later. My mom was eleven years old. Clearly, picking up hitchhikers is a big no-no in my family. Now this book warns me against the other side of hitchhiking: standing by the road with your thumb in the air. Again, don’t do it.This book is all about The Reveal. It starts with a chesty woman on the look-out for hunky hitchhikers. Thereafter, Faber slowly releases clues about what does and does not motivate her. I would encounter words I didn’t understand, such as vosdel, and think, “If only I knew this word. I bet it is the key to everything!” I considered pulling out the dictionary, but was either stuck on a plane or too toasty in bed to bother standing up. Now I can take comfort that the dictionary won’t have helped. The words are made up and duly explained as the plot unveiled itself in those excruciating increments.If you have absolutely no intention of reading this book and just want to understand the hoopla, here goes: (view spoiler)[Isserley is actually an alien modified to pass (just barely) as a human. She chats with her hitchhikers long enough to establish no one would raise the alarm if they went missing before she knocks them out. The unconscious men are delivered to an isolated farm populated by a small contingent of her fellow aliens. They castrate the men, cut out their tongues, fatten them up, kill them, and ship the meat to their planet of origin. It is a commentary on the beef industry. Some descriptions are disturbing and will make you reflect. However, I continued to eat pot roast, meat logs, and hamburgers during and after this book. (hide spoiler)]Maybe 60% into the book, you understand the big secret and the plot falters. I kept waiting for reactionary measures, but the action remained quite subdued. Sometimes Faber was just a damn tease - hinting at the potential of huge drama, taking me right to the edge, only to back away. Part of me admired his restraint while the other part was bored and frustrated. There were several discussion questions at the end of the book that made me wonder if I had read too superficially. I’ll admit I checked out a little after The Reveal, but ultimately, no. I think the author and/or publisher took the “message” of this book too seriously. It wasn't that effective for me. Except, of course, for reinforcing my thoughts on hitchhiking. Don't do it.Overall, I’d recommend this book, if only for Faber’s masterful execution of The Reveal. And it is an interesting mix of several genres: thriller, horror, and social commentary, as well as (view spoiler)[science fiction with ALIENS EATTING HUMANS (hide spoiler)].

  • Carmen
    2019-06-15 20:05

    ALL SPOILERS FOR THIS BOOK ARE HIDDEN UNDER TAGSIsserley, too, often ventured out at hours of such prehistoric stillness that her vehicle might have been the first ever. It was as if she had been set down on a world so newly finished that mountains might still have some shifting to do and the wooded valleys might yet be recast as seas.Okay. This book is not what you are expecting at all. I am going to put the general (non-ending, non-detailed) description of the plot under a spoiler tag, because I don't want to ruin anyone's day. If you read it, it's not going to spoil what happens to the CHARACTERS, but some things will be revealed to you that honestly probably won't be too big of a surprise IF you made the mistake of reading GR's summary/blurb/thing. But read at your own risk. I love going in cold, I know the feeling.(view spoiler)[Aliens have sent some of their lower-class, impoverished people to Earth to harvest humans for meat. This is done subtly. The main character, Isserley, naturally looks... Kind of like a big monkey-fox or monkey-dog. She is shaved, surgically altered, and given fake breasts (her real breasts - her teats, are removed - along with her sexual organs) in order to seduce and lure male hitchhikers into her car. Then she drugs them after quizzing them to make sure no job, woman, or children will report them missing. She then takes their unconscious bodies to the farm, where their tongues are cut out, they are gelded, they are penned in a small pen where they can barely turn around and are forced to lie in their own feces, they are force fed and intestinally modified, not to mention "chemically purified."Then they are slaughtered, packaged, loaded into a spaceship which arrives every month, and sold on Isserley's home planet for unimaginable wads of cash. (hide spoiler)]THINGS YOU WILL FIND IN THIS BOOK:1.) A huge, overarching vegan agenda. It's not forced, it's not preachy - but it is huge and it is undeniable and it is everywhere.If you are vegan, considering becoming vegan, or trying to open up people's minds about being vegan - this is definitely the book for you. NOT PREACHY, just perfect.2.) Classism - This book is really great at talking about classism, the haves and the have-nots - again, VERY SUBTLE, not preachy.3.) Animal rights activists - This book both gently mocks them and their concerns, while simultaneously showing you that they have an undeniable, amazing point that is impossible to ignore. Which is perfect.4.) Great and very rare gender-danger-switch, akin to Whedon's initial Buffy genesis of, basically, "a blonde cheerleader is walking home at night. A huge monster is stalking her. But she's not the one in danger - it is. She's not the one who's prey - it is." I'm paraphrasing, but you know what I mean. Isserley - a small, weak-looking female who deliberately and purposefully picks up the beefiest, strongest, most muscly men she can find as hitchhikers - is the predator here. The men are the victims, even when often times they are thinking it's their lucky day and plotting how soon they can pull a knife on her and rape her.5.) This book has a more minor subplot which is pro-marijuana. This is nowhere NEAR as huge as the vegan push, but it is definitely noticeable. The author is Dutch, I have no idea if that has anything to do with it.6.) Fake breasts - Isserley has a huge, surgically implanted pair of "perfect" breasts that she got because it helps her lure men into the car with her. Not that she really needs a lure, actually, I'm sure hitchhikers wouldn't hesitate to ride with practically any woman - young, old, fat, thin, big or small breasted. However, Faber seems to use these breast implants as a kind of character test. If the man who accepts a ride from Isserley feels sad that her breasts are fake and thinks to himself that women's natural breasts are the most beautiful - regardless of size or shape - then this is Faber's way of letting us know that this man is a good person. If, however, the man loves Isserley's huge, hard, rather obviously fake breasts - than that guy is at best a terrible person and at worst a rapist. It's the breast-test. o.O LOLIsserley doesn't care about any of this, of course. She has close to zero feeling in her breasts and only uses them as tools to lure men. But it's interesting to see the inner workings of Faber's mind on this topic....Very much to my surprise, I loved this book. I felt it was all the things that The Sparrow should have been - but wasn't.It is in equal parts hilarious and depressing. I laughed out loud at least 30 times in the course of reading this book - Isserley's comments and observations are TOO FUNNY and likewise the observations and thoughts the men she picks up are having about her. OMG So funny, I was laughing up a storm.But obviously the book isn't all laughter and hilarity. The strong vegan theme is of course very depressing, not to mention the classism and the misogyny. But I thought Faber was genius in the way he wove these two very different emotions into the book....Now, is Faber's book perfect? Of course not. He has a weird way of putting things. For instance:Ogling her in fascinated pity, they had ganged up to douche her with reassurance.This is very unfortunate wording, and it is completely said in earnest, I assure you. o.OBut the writing can also be very beautiful:As soon as he'd entered her car and sat down, Isserley sensed he was trouble. It was as if the laws of physics were unsettled by his presence; as if the electrons in the air were suddenly vibrating faster, until they were ricocheting around the confines of the cabin like crazed invisible insects.Not to mention filled with truth. I think Faber was great at getting to the heart of things in this book, and laying things bare. Excellent honesty about humanity and the human condition in this novel....Tl;dr - A great book with a fascinating premise that is used to promote the ideas of veganism, equality, and legalized marijuana use. But in a completely subtle and non-preachy way (I know you don't believe me, just... read it and you'll see what I mean.) This book does everything that The Sparrow wanted to do and does it 100x better (in my opinion). Despite my best efforts to resist, I felt myself succumbing and by the end grudgingly had to admit that this book was wonderful. I would highly recommend if it sounds remotely interesting to you....TRIGGER WARNING: I always feel very betrayed and upset when I read a book that features rape or other subjects that make me very upset and no review has mentioned that this is an element in the book. So I'm telling you now - because I would want to knowThere is a forced blowjob (at knifepoint) in this book and There is an attempted but unconsummated vaginal rape.Read at your own risk. I'm very sensitive to this sort of thing, but I got through it in one piece, but you've got to make that judgment call for youself. Like I said, I would feel remiss if I did not mention that this content was in the book, because personally I would really want to know this before reading....P.S. Scarlett Johansson plays Isserley in the film, which is nonsensical - Isserley is very unattractive. VERY UNATTRACTIVE, unless of course you count her perfect, huge, completely fake breasts. (Have you ever seen the movie Mars Attacks? This is akin to that fake woman the aliens put together in order to seduce men.) I understand Hollywood can't really accept putting anyone who is not gorgeous on the screen, though, regardless of source material or plot points. (I haven't seen the film.)P.P.S. You could obviously classify this novel as a horror novel, however, I was not horrified and therefore it was not shelved as a horror by me. The idea of (view spoiler)[humans being gathered, fattened, and slaughtered for alien consumption (hide spoiler)] didn't bother me in the least. But I can see Faber was trying to shock and horrify me with this - and I think it would most people. So this is (more or less) a horror novel, is what I'm saying.

  • Maciek
    2019-06-04 17:04

    Under the Skin is a reviewer's nightmare - it's literally impossible to discuss this book without touching the plot, and the whole thing hinges on mystery that surrounds it. This is a novel which is all about the big reveal, and Michel Faber delights in teeeeeeasing the reader with the smallest of hints and nudges.All I can tell you, spoiler free, is this - an attractive, lone woman, Isserley, drives on the A9 motorway through the Scottish Highlands, searching for hitch-hikers. She drives along the A9 all day long, every day, looking for specific type of travelers: male, with lots of muscle mass. Isserley often drives past the same person twice to decide if he is worthy of picking up, and if he is she takes him into her car. Why is Isserley picking up the hitch-hikers? Who is she, and who are they? What is going on?Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive! This quote, wrongly attributed in the book to William Shakespeare (it's from Marmion, an epic poem by the famous Scottish poet, Sir Walter Scott) is a perfect summary of the book - which is a tangled web of deception, where nothing is quite what it appears to be. Faber throws a hook straight into our curiosity, but never explains anything directly - he only implies and insinuates, pulling us in more and more. At the beginning, when we know nothing of Isserley and her road trips and yearn to learn more, it works wonders - the book is compelling and few readers will be able to resist the call of its riddle. But once the puzzles begin to fall into place it runs out of steam amazingly quickly, and by the time the big reveal finally happens it's more embarrassing than clever - as it literally makes no sense, and doesn't hold up to any close scrutiny. Long explanation follows in the spoiler section:(view spoiler)[Throughout the book, Faber made a big deal of keeping Isserley's true identity shrouded in mystery. Is she a part of some sort religious cult, or a a sexual deviant, who keeps the poor men in her basement? Is she conducting some bizarre experiments on the hitch-hikers? The hints are there, right on the first page - puny, scrawny specimens were of no use to her - but they don't reveal anything conclusive, so it's obvious that Isserley's character is purposefully made secret, and that he will keep it so to build up suspense. Faber describes over and over again how Isserley works - how she selects the hitch-hikers, tranquilizes them, and them turns them over to a remote farm, inhabited by men whom Isserley knows and apparently works for. There the hitch-hiker is taken to an unknown fate, and Isserley drives out to look for a new one. What is this conspiracy? Who are these men, and what is going on at that farm?It was aliens all along! It turns out that Isserley is an alien from some distant planet, surgically modified and fitted with big boobs which are deemed to make her appear more attractive to human males (must have taken the aliens a millennium to research this). The hitch-hikers she picks up, tranquilizers and brings to the farm are nothing more than cattle - after they are castrated and have their tongues removed they are fattened, butchered and sent off via spaceship to the Alien Burger King. It's a cookbook!This is where the problems start to mount. Fat is no an alien delicacy, so the men Isserley brings to the farm must have low body fat - hence the need for well-muscled specimens. But why are their testicles and tongues removed? This is never explained - we can speculate that testicle removal serves as elimination of testosterone, which could either make the men more willing to make trouble or spoil the taste of their meat, but it's never stated. But why do they have their tongues removed? Most captured hitch-hikers are imprisoned in a secure basement, where they can't be neither seen or heard from the outside. Faber makes it clear that while Isserley understands human language other aliens who work at the farm don't, so they couldn't possibly communicate with the aliens to beg for their life. Details about the alien work on the farm don't make much sense either. Some captured hitch-hikers apparently undergo some surgical (?) procedures which force them to walk on all fours, and are drugged to remain calm and obedient in their cages. But when Isserley asks to see a hitch-hiker be butchered before her own eyes, it's done almost immediately - he's stripped and cut open before her eyes while he's still unconscious from the tranquilizer. Why do hitch-hikers need to be kept in the pens, if they always arrive one-by-one on an amply staffed farm and slaughtering them takes seconds, and can be done by one alien?The whole farm, which Faber takes a delight in shrouding in mystery as well, does not make any sense whatsoever. Please remember that we are dealing with an advanced alien civilization, which possesses the technology to go very far in space in seconds. They think of themselves as "Humans", and consider people who inhabit Earth as "Vodsels" - cattle animals for slaughter and consumption. So why in the world would aliens, who have technology vastly more advanced than ours, have a need for all this charade? Consider: Isserley is constantly worried about being exposed - she always talks to the men to learn if there will be anyone who will miss them if they're gone, and makes sure that no one noticed her picking them up. She wears glasses and tries to diverge the attention from her scars by pushing her breasts forward, and always obeys the speed limit. She even has a special button in her car which will literally blow it up - along with her inside it - if she is ever captured, which is exactly what happens at the end of the book. But why is it all this even necessary? Why is Isserley posing as a compassionate driver on a lonely road, and why do aliens even have a need need to maintain a farm in a remote region in northern Scotland as their butchery? Let me remind you that we're talking about a civilization technologically vastly superior to ours. Why not skip all the risks and dangers of being found out, and simply capture the men and beam them up to their home planet, where they could be fattened and prepared just the same? Why does Isserley know next to nothing about human culture,significantly lowering her chance at succesful conversation which could result in more captured men? Most importantly, why do the alien civilization even cares about being exposed by those whom they consider to be simple animals? They are shown to be physically and technologically much more powerful than we are, and could easily change the site of their operations to another part of the world, or simply exterminate/alter the memories of potential witnesses. For all their disregard for humankind they sure do care a lot about what we see or don't see! People go missing all the time, in broad daylight and crowded cities, people with families who actively look for them, sometimes for years. Many of them are never found, and for all we know they really could have been abducted by extraterrestrials - in fact that's what many people believe to have happened. Faber's whole plot - Isserley, hitch-hikers, the farm - makes no sense at all, and is there only because the author needs it to be there. This isn't even poor science fiction, it's just poor fiction, and it's why the book ultimately fails. (hide spoiler)]With what begun as an eerie and compelling novel, Under the Skin quickly became unimpressive and turned into unbelievable, logic-defying mess. What was subtle becomes heavy handed an obvious, as if Faber became tired of hints and winks and had to literally spell out his message. The novel is not without its merits - there is a chase scene which is particularly chilling and grotesque, and Faber can operate with a scene and create good imagery when he wants to - but ultimately these things are simply not enough to save the book from itself. The Wall Street Journal described it as "an Animal Farm for the new century", but the reviewer who wrote that sentence has probably never read Animal Farm as the only thing that the two books have in common is the physical building. I know that Under the Skin was his debut novel and hopefully he got better with time - I still want to read his historical epic, The Crimson Petal and the White, but now I'm not in such a big hurry as I was before. Fool me once...["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Cecily
    2019-05-28 15:52

    Michel Faber evidently likes writing about the seedier side of life, but with a twist. He wrote the wonderful The Crimson Petal and the White, which I've reviewed HERE about an aspirational Victorian prostitute, and in this contemporary novel, a rather strange woman picks up hunky male hitchhikers for nefarious, but initially unspecified purposes. The assumption that this would be an unpleasantly graphic account of sex crimes was unfounded. This is also about alienation, which was an even stronger theme in his more recent novel, The Book of Strange New Things, which I've reviewed HERE.It's a tricky book to categorise, but in many ways, it reminded me of Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, which I've reviewed HERE: ultimately dystopian, and yet in many ways, seemingly "normal".In spite of my relief at the content, I found this a very uneven novel, and nowhere near as good as wonderful Crimson Petal. I am not sure whether I want to see the film adaptation. THREE SECTIONS, THREE STYLES?The book falls roughly into three sections. In the first part, Isserley scours the roadside for suitable hitchers, and once she has one, the point of view switches from her motivation, assessment, expectation and thoughts of him, to his of her. The way she eyes them up is unsettling, as are occasional comments about her own oddness (very thick specs hiding odd eyes, strange scarring on her hands, spinal problems, strangely sculpted nose).In the middle section, the reasons for her pickups are gradually revealed, starting with the word "vodsel" being used increasingly often to describe the hitchers. The more the motivation was exposed, the less realistic the whole thing seemed. Like Never Let Me Go, it seemed a ludicrously slow, expensive and complicated way to achieve something that could easily have been done, or approximated, in other ways.The final section unexpectedly became a bit Mills & Boon ((view spoiler)[the hunky, spoilt playboy turns out to have a conscience (hide spoiler)]), with a few dashes of pop psych and reincarnation that reminded me of Richard Bach's Jonathan Livingston Seagull, though that is perhaps because a friend was talking about it only yesterday.It was redeemed by an ending that although rather sentimental, was slightly ambiguous (I hate tidy, happy endings), especially about how/when/where the story started. It also included some lovely passages about the beauty of the world, some of which I've quoted below.IDENTITY, UNDER THE SKINThe book starts off showing the difficulties of being an outsider. Isserley is an incomer to rural Scotland and is puzzled by aspects of life and language there. The hitchers are outsiders, too, albeit in a different sense.As the book progresses, this idea becomes the more fundamental question of what makes us human, and what price is worth paying to be human and to sustain humanity. One person's idea of being human does not necessarily match another's (look at the shameful aspects of colonialism and slavery), and yet, under the skin, perhaps we're all the same - made of stardust.(view spoiler)[The nub of the story is that Isserley and the others on the farm where she lives, are "humans" from another time or place, but they are naturally furry quadrupeds with tails, and they see our sort of humanity as sub-human. To pass in contemporary Scotland, Esserley and Esswiss have undergone much very painful surgery, leaving them not fully either type of human. "She didn't have much of a chin, and what little she did have was the result of much suffering and surgical ingenuity. Being able to rest it on her arms was a small triumph, or maybe a humiliation, she could never decide which." Although she was freed from the awful Estates to come here, she's unsure whether it was a price worth paying, being "exploited, like a piece of brute equipment".The workers on the farm "had fussed around her... ogling her in fascinated pity, they had ganged up to douche her with reassurance", and yet later we learn that "mercy" is "untranslatable in her own tongue; it was a concept that just didn't exist".Isserley is awed by the natural beauty around her, especially the abundance of water and air - and life in general, though it leaves Esswiss cold. She has endured surgical mutilation, lost her natural body, but gained this beauty and abundance. In contrast, the rich back home are "prisoners in opulent cages", confined to "the think skin of their homes". Which is preferable? How much does skin matter?What does TV say about us? In her early days, Isserley found it useful, but she comes to realise "There was no point trying to orient yourself to reality with television. It only made things worse." (hide spoiler)]THE FILMI saw the film, starring Scarlett Johansson, a few years after reading the book. The film is dark, haunting, and atmospheric, but only loosely inspired by the book. Very good in its terms, but don't expect a traditional adaptation. FAVOURITE QUOTES* "The nacreous hush of a winter dawn, when the mists were still dossed down in the fields... hours of such prehistoric stillness."* "Most distracting was not the thread of danger but the allure of beauty."* "He was the type who needed to swerve round the saying of thanks, as if gratitude were a trap."* "She could glimpse her feelings, but only out of the corner of her eye."* "The irises [of her eyes] were hazel and green, glowing like... slides of some exotic bacterial culture,"!* "Nothing happened, and time stubbornly failed to pass."* "Nervous moonlight hesitated into her bedroom, drawing a spectral line around the meagre contents.... Moonlight was sketching some detail into her bedroom."* "A swarthy old salt of heroic ugliness."* A brilliantly revolting description of a processing plant:"The smooth cervix of a giant concrete crater filled with a luminous stew of decomposing plant matter. Huge roots and tubers turned lazily in the albumescent gleet, obese leaves convulsed on its silvery surface like beached manta rays, and billows of blueish gas ejaculated from sudden interruptions in the surface tension. All around and above this great churning cavity, the stifling air swirled with green vapour and particles of sphagnum."* Snow: "The idea of all that water vapour solidifying by the cloudful and fluttering to Earth was miraculous... It was a phenomenon of stupendous and unjustified, useless extravagance... It's as if there's another sea, floating in the air."* Rain: "Some water fell out of the sky... In little droplets... They seemed to be materializing out of nowhere...I opened my mouth to the sky... It was an indescribably feeling. As if nature was actually trying to nurture me."* Sand: "The variety of shapes, colours and textures under her feed was, she believed, literally infinite... The indiscriminate, eternal devotion of nature to its numberless particles had an emotional importance for Isserley; it put the unfairness of human life into perspective."* Forest: "The barrier keeping out the light overhead was nothing more than a feathery canopy of twigs, beyond which lay a comforting eternity of sky."Recommended by Paul (

  • Jen Campbell
    2019-05-29 12:57

    4.5 stars. Will talk about it in my next wrap up :)

  • Kinga
    2019-05-23 19:00

    Sometime in March Craig posted on our book group Facebook page the following message:“Hello Group,At the risk of sounding alarmist, I want to alarm you all.I am currently rereading Under The Skin for about the sixth time, and I noticed today from tube adverts that the film adaptation is out March 14 or 15. Now, I utterly hate it when things are oversold to me, but if you ever want to experience this novel - which is among the most extraordinary I've ever read - in the manner in which it was intended, I beseech you to read it within the next 4-6 days, before the hype machine amps up and partially spoils it for you.I may have spent a portion of this afternoon drinking 15% beer, but I assure you, you should not allow Hollywood to ruin this for you.Well, I tried.Regards.”See, I’m not normally the one to go out and buy a book right after someone’s recommend it to me. Usually I just add it to my never-ending to-read list where it sits waiting to be chosen like a puppy in a dog shelter. But then, Craig is not normally given to being dramatic, so I thought maybe I should heed his warning and to my amazement I dropped everything I was reading, went and downloaded ‘Under the Skin’ and started reading it right away.Craig was right, ladies and gentlemen. Now all I want to do is tell you nothing about this book but somehow convince you to read it. Maybe I will say that it’s about a woman who drives around Scottish frontiers and picks up hunky hitch-hikers. The opening might be erotically charged but the irony of it will hit you later. It’s a book that asks the readers for their definition of what it means to be human and then forces them to take sides. Nothing new here but presented in a such mind-bending way that we just have to admit that our claim to evolutionary superiority is very weak. Our arguments are arbitrary and self-serving. We’re all animals.While including as few graphic details as possible, it manages to be one of the most disturbing things I have ever read. At some point I really wanted not to want to read it anymore. I think the greatest twisted strength of this book was that it made me form alliances with the characters before I knew the whole story, or at least all the sides to the story. Once all is revealed, you can’t get out of it without exposing yourself as a hypocrite. And yet, in all of this, there is somehow room left for gentle emotions, melancholy, evocative descriptions of the landscape and a hint of a love story. The descriptions in this book are superb. You can see clearly all the characters, sense something off about some of them but at first can’t quite lay your finger on what it is. You see Isserley, the main character, through the eyes of different hitchhikers and it is quite amazing how different their impressions are but in the end they form in your head a cohesive picture of the woman. I don’t know what Scarlett Johansson is doing starring in the adaption of this book. This makes no sense whatsoever. Read the book. It might or might not be a coincidence that some time after finishing this novel I had this genius idea: hey, maybe I should try to be vegan for a while. Of course, the message of this book not subtle but somehow I had no problem with it at all. Michel Faber is currently the best thing you can find in Scotland.

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2019-06-02 16:41

    Surprisingly good. The book will keep you turning the pages because of the slow tease. In the end, I was expecting something like The Silence of the Lambs but Faber probably anticipated it and he brought me to a place I've never been before. That's despite that I already have 700+ books in different genres in my read folder. Definitely my first time to have encountered and read something like this.It is a story of a pickup lady named Isserly. She drives back and forth in a Scottish highway looking for beefy young hitchhiking men. When she sees one, she assesses him first by passing through them and when she is certain, she makes a U-turn and picks the young man up. Then... I will not go on as this is a highly spoilable book. I will not even dare to put a spoiler (hide/show) because I have friends here who does not know how to behave and they just click on them. Just trust me when I say that, if you are any of the following, you will love this book:(1) A lover of good storytelling that uses slow-tease. The reason why Isserly picks the beefy young men and what do "they" do with those men; (2) Mystery/suspense/sci-fi/fantasy aficionados. The twists are just not easy to predict so I just lumped all those genres in there so as not to reveal too much. What I am trying to say is that if you love one of these genres, there is something in this book for you.(3) A writer who is interested on how to play with POVs. The bulk of the book is told in Isserly's point of view but every time there is a hitchhiker who has just got in her car, the POV shifts to him and I just loved knowing what the young man thinks of Isserly. I did enjoy these parts.(4) If you are a meat-loving person. I had the same feeling while reading Douglas Adams' The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Remember the talking giraffe?I think I have to stop now. Otherwise, I will spoil your fun! One last note (so I can remember if someone asks): the title comes from Amlis saying "We're all the same under the skin" when Isserly says that she does not really doubt if there's much similarity between the way he and she (Isserly) live and breath. (p. 164). This is a proof that not all 1001 books are serious or literary. This one is just different. The variety is one of the reasons why I am sticking to that list. It provides me with an unbelievable breath and width when it comes to reading experience. Just great!

  • Es Summer
    2019-05-31 15:38

    “ISSERLEY ALWAYS DROVE straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up. She was looking for big muscles: a hunk on legs. Puny, scrawny specimens were no use to her.”*Minor spoilers* Disturbing, strangely compelling and original: Under the Skin is unlike anything I have ever read before. The story follows, Isserley, a female driver who picks up hitchhikers for secret purposes. She needs a certain type of guy: big muscled, tall and fit. What her reason is of needing these guys remains a mystery for a long time. During the rides, Isserley observes the hitchhiker while they try to get to know each other. We get an insight in the thoughts of the hitchhikers as well and that makes it very interesting. Especially since the hitchhikers are more busy ogling Isserley than seeing the threat she actually is for them.“Most distracting of all, though, was not the threat of danger but the allure of beauty.” The roles are reversed in Under the Skin and the female driver is the creepy one. There is something darkly amusing about the fact that a small woman chooses the biggest guys she can find, she lures them in with her femininity and outer appearance with the purposes of harming them in the meantime. Isserley is utterly creepy and it is difficult to really understand her throughout the novel. That made it harder to connect with her. Although the creepiness of the main narrator provided a grimy atmosphere, sometimes it dragged on a bit. The story had a very slow built-up and I wished for more action. Nevertheless, it was an interesting read and I would recommend it to horror lovers.3 stars.

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-05-24 19:46

    Caution, spoilers! A modern fable on any number of potential issues—animal cruelty? corporate greed? human brutality?—set in a version of the Highlands where multiple people hitchhike each day (I go frequently to the Highlands and I’ve never seen no hitchhikers—maybe Faber ate them all?) The story begins with our big-breasted heroine Isserley picking up a series of unemployed assholes and stabbing them in the buttocks with a stun chemical activated via her dashboard. She drives her victims, known as vodsels, to a secret plant where they are carved up and turned into gibbering grunting animals to be farmed for boutique meat. The story focuses on Isserley’s desire for freedom—she fled her homeland and her own kind (some human/bear hybrid creature) to take the fresh air of Scotland—as she struggles to adapt to her new vodsel body (her kind call themselves human beings) and fight the tyrannising corporate machine of her hometown, where she began life as a slave. The story is endearingly strange, extremely brutal, and is left pantingly open to interpretation. As a lapsed vegan I read the story from an animal perspective: vodsel farming being almost as brutal as cow or chicken farming (but not quite). On the whole: Faber invokes the warped worlds of Will Self, especially Great Apes, David Twohy’s underrated sci-fi thriller The Arrival, and early Gene Hackman flick Prime Cut. It’s all here in this subcutaneous chillerfest.

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez
    2019-06-07 16:59

    Annnnnd now I can see the movie, whose trailer is the reason I read this book in the first place. The whole book-to-screen experience should have some degree of order to it, even if nothing else does in life. Especially if nothing else does in life. Book first 4 eva! On the film's trailer/synopsis/general promotion, just a couple of things: 1) There's a spoiler innit concerning the who-what of the main character that the book opted to slow-reveal, which creates this weird situation where the trailer makes you want to see the movie which makes you want to read the book, while also ruining the book a little, a book which you (me) wouldn't even have known about had it not been for that book-spoilering trailer, so it's not that big of deal because it was kind of a necessary sacrifice in order to know about the trailer about the movie about the book, but still. Ya follow me? This is a wordy warning. 2) I guess you aren't playing when you say something is "loosely based on the novel." Vulgar, juvenile joke about how loose it is. That movie that I haven't even seen yet can't possibly be much like this book that I actually have read, just based on these imagery buzzwords: hotchick, cityscapes, sexyclothes, at-the-mall, out-in-public, seduction, lipstick, no-glasses, no-scars, normal-naked. <---Not featured in this book. Isserly, our main ladymam, does/is/experiences none of these things. On the contrary, her profound social awkwardness and startling appearance, her total dependence on her prosthetic tits and only her prosthetic tits to lure in her prey are major contributors to her inherent creepiness, and to what creates the feeling of panicked claustrophobia in all the "doomed hitch-hikers in her car" scenes in what is otherwise a sort of "Taxicab Confessions from Purgatory" tale. Oh yeah, I am so actually talking about the book all the sudden. Betcha didn't see that coming.This novel moves along pretty swiftly for one so technically slow-paced. At times, the metaphors at play feel a little ham-fisted, or long-winded, or both. Slivers of clever here and there, a few really great, really disturbing scenes. The romantic sub-plot reads like sloppy afterthought. The ending feels like a cheat. The animal rights theme is as subtle as a 10 car pile-up. *** I liked it.

  • Scott
    2019-05-25 17:38

    I used to pick up hitchhikers. Alone and starved of conversation on long-distance trips I'd stop for anyone short of an obvious axe murderer. Most of the people I picked up were guys in their 20s - fit, healthy men who would have been perfect targets for the protagonist of Under The Skin.In Michael Faber's novel a lone woman named Isserley cruises the backroads of Scotland, picking up healthy, muscular male hitchers. She chats awkwardly with her new passengers, determining their health, their level of connectedness to their friends, their family and society. Then, with the flick of a switch on her steering column she sedates them and delivers them to a mysterious backwoods farm.Isserley’s days are spent driving, her nights trying to sleep through the torment her surgically altered body inflicts upon her. And the surgeries that have left her so pained were profoundly altering. Isserley is not a normal woman, and the things done to her so she can pass as a regular person have left her a mess of physical and psychological scars. This is a suspenseful story, filled with tantalising mysteries that will pull you through the novel like a jet-skier behind a boat. Why is Isserley abducting people? What happens to them on the farm? Who, or what exactly is our protagonist? Under the Skin slowly reveals the answers to these questions and I stayed up late with this book, caught up in Isserley's pained and conflicted life to the point where the novel consumed my thoughts all the following day. This isn't a book for the easily triggered. There is genuine horror in what is revealed. Some of the darker stuff has lodged in my mind - a disturbing mental burr in my psyche that I can’t quite pluck free - and I find myself involuntarily recalling it while reading other books. (view spoiler)[ Without going into too much spoiler-y detail, there are echoes in this novel of Peter Jackson's cult splatter film Bad Taste (a classic low budget 80s film in which Aliens harvest humans to make intergalactic food chain burger patties) in Under the Skin, although Faber’s story is the better one, with less gore and a great deal more heart.Under the Skin reads as a novel-length allegory of the cruelties inherent in the production and consumption of meat. The abducted hitchers are neutered, their tongues are removed, and then they are fattened in an underground feedlot prior to their slaughter for meat. The setting of these events- a farm – hammers home the intended message. At numerous points in the narrative Faber led me to reflect on the convenient justifications our society makes for the enslavement, mutilation and killing of animals for food, although I must confess that my own vegetarianism may have something to do with this interpretation.(hide spoiler)]My only real gripe is that, in the early parts of the book at least, Faber pulls the rather tired trick of deliberately obscuring the appearances of his characters (or at least, parts of them) by simply not giving any details about how they look, when any observer on the scene would see them quite clearly. While this increases the sense of mystery it felt a little artificial. This annoyance aside under the Skin is a standout novel - a thoughtful, poignant and sad story with a strong message. It left me with a lot to think about, and I while I'm still happy to pick up hitchhikers I'm now doubly sure that I'll never risk thumbing rides myself.

  • Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    2019-05-28 19:49

    Now here's a book that went from an intriguing premise, to gripping me at the first page, to totally taking over my mind - it's definitely going to be one of the best books I've read this year, I can tell you that now. I read this back in March and itched to write a review straight away, but made myself wait till it was next in line - I wish I hadn't now, because my thoughts were so buzzing at the time it would have made a more interesting and energetic review!It's also a tricky one to review, or summarise, because part of the allure and the utter absorption is in the gradual reveal of the truth, in the not-knowing, in the speculation right from the beginning. So I can't tell you what it's really about, only give you much the same outline the blurb does (which, as I re-read it now, knowing the true story, is actually quite cleverly written in the way it acts upon our assumptions - playing with language is key to this novel, but I'll get to that). Which was enough to pull me in, but others might pass it by due to lack of information.This is the story of Isserley, who drives back and forth along the Scottish highways looking for hitchhikers. Male, large, preferably unattached hitchhikers. With scars and large hands, her tiny petite frame is topped off by a pair of obviously enhanced breasts that are prominently on display. As she probes her male hitchhikers with casual questions and gets them talking, she quickly assesses whether anyone would really notice - or care - if they suddenly disappeared.If that doesn't make you wonder about what Isserley's deal is, then you probably wouldn't care for the book. For me, the notion of a woman driving around looking for male hitchhikers to kidnap, is definitely an intriguing one - if Isserley were male, looking for young women, we'd know exactly what to think. But a tiny woman who seems nervous no matter how many times she does this...? I didn't know what to think, and that was part of the initial fun. As the story unfolds and more and more clues are carefully, smoothly revealed, my mind went nuts coming up with theories. Normally, I never make an effort to predict where a story is going - I love the reveal in the hands of a skilled writer, and I don't see reading as a race to be right and outwit the author. I certainly didn't want to outwit Faber; I loved the excitement, the not-knowing, the guessing and revising of said guesses, as the truth became apparent. And "excitement" is just the word for it: it was more fun than being on a roller-coaster! I got a kind of adrenaline rush and found it extremely hard to put the book down, even after the truth came out.Even after every last truth is out, that's only half the book - by then you're hopefully hooked and in an odd way, sympathetic - at least, I was. I had no trouble identifying with Isserley, if I can use that word. I love being confronted in fiction, and having assumptions turned on their head. While the second half is quite different from the first - and I can't use the genre name I'd like to because that would be leading! - it was equally, if vastly differently, fascinating. I itched to know more and more, and without a doubt by the end I was sympathetic, despite it all. And that only adds to my fascination, because on a reasonable level, I shouldn't be. (Then again, I even found Humbert Humbert strangely sympathetic - in a disturbing way - in Lolita. I actually enjoy being pulled out of my comfort zone, seeing a different perspective - even if it's ultimately "wrong" - and trying to understand a different way of thinking.)Not being able to "reveal" what's really going on in the novel does make it hard to talk about all the things this book makes me so eager to discuss, especially language. I'm chaffing at the bit here! Under the Skin is such an intelligent novel, hugely thought-provoking and fascinating. I loved the way Faber used language to present an alien - to us - perspective, a different view of things, and turn our own comfort zone, assumptions and sense of righteousness on their head. I've read Fantasy novels (with blends of Sci-Fi) that do the same kind of thing, and they're some of my favourite books in the genre (sadly there aren't many of those around; most are disappointingly generic). For instance, the play on the words "human" and "animal" are hugely confronting and rather mind-bending, and really highlight the power of words, language and our ownership of them. I wish I could go into it in more details but always when I write reviews I'm conscious of wanting to give others the opportunity to experience books the way I do, to start a book with a sense of anticipation and wonder and let the story tell itself, rather than have a reviewer's words tell them what to think and expect. So as much as I want to keep talking about this fantastic book - which, I must emphasise, is truly weird and not everyone's cup of tea - I will stop here.

  • Agnieszka
    2019-06-05 14:56

    It's an uncanny novel. Although it starts out as a classic thriller, Faber from first pages is playing with readers and misleading them. Repeating for The Timeshere nothing is what it seemsand you become more and more disoriented, for this book is nothing like you had ever read before. At the same time engaging and repulsive. Unsettling. Disturbing.I'm not sure what I expected but was absolutely suprised. Faber consistently builds tension and leads us out of the atmosphere of horror in total fantasy, mixes so many genres and then serves extraordinary dish, neither thriller nor a crime story, nor science fiction. And finally leaves us with clear message that, after all, we are all the same under the skin.

  • David
    2019-05-25 17:46

    This is one of the creepiest books I've read in years. It's also terrific - all kinds of props are due Michel Faber. He not only has the creative imagination to come up with such a bizarre, mesmerizing story; he also has the writing chops to execute it brilliantly. I can't think of any story I've read in the last several years that ratchets up the horror quotient so steadily, and so effectively. He's in total control throughout (hard to believe this was his first novel), writing in a style that's fluid, lyrical in its description of the Scottish landscape, and totally creepy in the "you know something really, really bad is coming" way.Paul's reviewpretty much nails it:"you only find out bit by bit and it gets weirder until you just can't stand it ".As usual, Paul gets it right. Read his review; I can't add a whole lot. The book isn't perfect; structurally, no ending could quite match the slow buildup of horror as the story progresses. But it's pretty damn good. I finished reading it about an hour ago - it's now 3am and I'm sitting in the dining room with every light in the apartment on, scared to go to bed. Even Hannibal Lecter didn't have this effect on me.So, yeah. Michel Faber brings the awesome here. Then there are his short stories, but that's material for a different review.

  • Palmina Briggs
    2019-05-25 20:48

    Completely captivating. To this day, this story haunts me. Takes place in Scotland and the main character is a female who picks up male hitchikers. What she does with them ... is well ... let's just say, I almost became a vegetarian, if it wasn't for being Croatian and meat-eating is a patriotic obligation. In an eery and out-of-this world way, this story forces you to examine how we treat animals.

  • Shovelmonkey1
    2019-06-09 20:46

    A lonely stretch of road. A ribbon of slick tarmac stretching into the distant Scottish Highlands. There are few people around and every hitch hiker has to take their chances. After all what could possibly be dangerous about the young woman with the large eyes? Beware of dark roads. Beware of the kindness of strangers. Evocative and well written, this is a difficult book to review without spewing forth spoiler after spoiler in a big frothing pool of spoiler vomit. Therefore I will not write too much more. And I feel a bit nauseous from describing pools of word vomit. It is clear from the start that something is very wrong with the woman in the car. The story is driven by the need to know her motivations, the reasoning behind the specific choice of prey and a desire to understand their ultimate fate. The story will have you evaluating how you decide what is a suitable food source and re-evaluating what it means to be human and a meat eater. You'll find yourself thinking a lot about whether or not cows have a sort of society that we're not aware of too. Cheerfully i'm a vegetarian so the meaty parts didn't bother me too much and the closest I ever get to a steak is to give it a friendly pat on the nose while it's still up and about and mooing its cheerful way around a nice green field. This is a surprise entry for the 1001 books list but also it proves the joy of the list. As well as providing a handy reference for the more conventional classic literature (Hardy, Austen, Bronte, Dickens and the rest of the usual suspects), it also throws the odd curve ball, this book being a case in point. Not something I'd have looked at twice without prompting but it was very, very good. Although how the author veered from this to the Crimson Petal and the White is a bit of a mystery.

  • Hanneke
    2019-05-17 19:38

    A very interesting and nauseating book. For a long time, you have no clue whatsoever what is going on, but you have strong suspicions it is not going to be pleasant at all to find out. You are disoriented but intrigued about the strange hitchhiking adventures of the main character Isserley. Still, you are unprepared when it hits you on the head. The discovery is so fantastic that it stops you in your tracks. I really liked how Michael Faber shows us a view of our world from a very different perspective. In that way, it is a story I will definitely remember when witnessing similar situations. It is quite extraordinary how he manages to present us with a story that is so unlike any other that it feels like it is in a genre all by itself. It is impossible to tell any details of the story because even one word would spoil it for others. So, what goes on in the mind of Peter Faber? Pretty fantastic stuff, I thought!

  • Bill Khaemba
    2019-05-29 15:40

    This will haunt me for awhile, I need to go sit in a dark corner & contemplate 🙂 "Most distracting of all, though, was not the threat of danger but the allure of beauty"In this speculative tale reminiscent of Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale we follow Isserley, a woman who is obsessed with picking up well-muscled hitchhikers on the backdrop of a Scotland Highway. Why she is picking them up and asking them personal questions, is a mystery that will reveal a dark side to this simple act.“The word troubled her, though. ‘Indispensable.’ It was a word people tended to resort to when dispensability was in the air.This was eerie, unsettling and downright fascinating one of those haunting tales that creep up on you as you flip the pages. For such a slim book (280 pages) Faber crammed so much and managed to seamlessly weave into the plot. I will vaguely speak about the overall story because I believe this is a story that one dives in blindly and just gets f*cked up.The exploration of the main character's identity, her interactions with the male hitchhikers and her workmates opens up the discussion surrounding gender powerplay & objectivism. Showcasing how uncomfortable she feels with all the masculinity surrounding her and losing herself in the process as she rarely encounters a female character in her work or day to day life. It was a topic that captures the feeling of isolation and addresses certain stereotypes. (Side Note: Trigger Warning for violent abuse)Also, an underlying topic on animal breeding was done well, it had a twist that made me question my eating habits. This one of those that I could spend hours thinking about and the whole idea of placing the reader with this woman on a lonely highway felt personal and fascinating especially when a hitchhiker comes along.  Why it reminds me of the Handmaid's Tale was the story structure, the reader is slowly immersed into this disturbing world and the horrific scenes happening that shine the light on certain social issues.Some of the small issues I had was the pacing, it felt a bit off towards the middle and at times I couldn't picture certain characters well but the overall experience was still worthwhile.

  • Joe Valdez
    2019-06-08 17:45

    I came to Michel Faber's Under the Skin after I went to see the elliptical, provocative and unsettling film adaptation starring Scarlet Johansson. With context and character names completely stripped from the movie, I was curious what a literal version of this story would be like. I got a lot of answers and a few more questions.Stop reading unless you want the surprises spoiled.The novel introduces a woman named Isserley driving a battered red Toyota Camry up and down the A9 in the Highlands of Scotland. She's on the prowl for male hitchhikers, brawny men only, and never women. Isserley engages the hitchers in conversation, assessing what types of employment they have, whether they live in the area and whether they have a wife or girlfriend.Faber insinuates that Isserley might be cruising for sex, or possibly murder victims, until she sizes up a proper candidate and using a switch concealed in the Toyota's steering wheel, plunges two needles hidden in the passenger seat into the hitcher, drugging him. She returns to a farm compound where her co-workers await. They are not of this earth.Isserley has been surgically altered to resemble a "vodsel", an alien term for the crude inhabitants of Earth whose flesh, in the world of the "human beings" where Isserley is from, is consumed as a delicacy. An employee of the Vess Corporation, Isserley is in constant pain from her operation (one of the hitchers asks if she's been in a car accident). She lives on the farm with a manager who has also been altered, while the laborers who toil underground processing the vodsels walk on all fours, are covered in a pelt, have long necks, six fingers and powerful tails. Isserley keeps herself in a bitter mood, her only enjoyment coming from the trees, tides, snow or clouds of Earth, natural processes which have disappeared from her world. Her mood changes for the worse when farm receives a visit from Amlis Vess, the wayward son of the corporate honcho. Amlis believes eating flesh of an animal that breathes the same air they do is wrong and has a theory that vodsels possess a crude form of language. Isserley says nothing to confirm this. The longer she remains in her new body, the more she struggles with her own identity, unable to ever go home or make earth her new one.Under the Skin draws uneasy parallels between livestock farming and environmental decay, skillfully suggesting it might not be possible to have one without the other. The treatment of the "cattle" certainly stretches the limits of humane. The paragraphs revealing how the vodsels have their tongues and testicles removed, are shaved, artificially fattened over a month in pens and finally slaughtered are nightmarish. These revelations are nicely drawn out by Faber, who gives the book space rather than dumping information on the reader.I admired that Faber refused to force a Book of the Month plot onto the reader. No love interest for Isserley. No police detective on Isserley's trail. The lack of a plot does make the book feel like a novella padded out to novel length. I found myself skipping over paragraphs, wanting to get past the author's descriptions and fall into a story; that never really happens. I didn't find myself nearly as unsettled over Isserley's remorseless or the infinite unknown of her being as I did watching the movie. In many ways, she's not much different from a disgruntled mailman.That said, the last paragraph has a haunting finality that will be with me for a while. With a great deal of composure, Faber was able to stretch my imagination and make me feel something. Three and a half stars rounded up to four stars.

  • Marian
    2019-06-10 19:58

    We did see the movie version of this book on Netflix a few weeks ago,althou,hubby didn't care for the movie,but me,that was a different story.I liked it!The main protagonist in the movie was Scarlett Johanssan,so I just HAD to read the book and Im soooo glad I did!The book seem to fill the gaps of the movie version,but at the same time,there are hardly,that many similar things going on between both,the book/movie.The book is one of the most bizarre and unique and unusual sci-fi storys I have read or watched for that matter. We are in a car with a woman named Isserley as she looks for men: Isserley always drove straight past a hitchhiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up. She was looking for big muscles: a hunk on legs. The situation is charged with sinister erotic possibility, but there's something not quite right about Isserley. The first man she picks up is distracted by her perfect breasts, but he also notices her big knobbly elbows . . . knobbly wrists too, and big hands. The lenses of her glasses are so thick her eyes look twice normal size, and she is described as half 'Baywatch' babe, half little old lady. Does this make you want to read this book now?...:) One more thing I should say,this is a sci fi horror book...just saying.

  • David
    2019-05-17 17:47

    I've thought about being a vegetarian ... one of my arguments has been how shameful it'll be when aliens land and see what we've done. "Yeah, for several centuries we've been breeding and breeding this living thing and now it looks like this. We've kept this one in a cage for its entire life. Now we're going to kill it and eat it. Sausage roll?" Yuck. Can you imagine how embarrassing it's going to be? Fabulously, however, "Under the Skin" has aliens doing to us what we do to animals. And it's about relationships, gender, sex ... I couldn't stop reading.I'd seen the film - and loved it, really loved it - and this is equally fabulous whilst being completely different. Great writing. And I think I've fallen in love with .... Isserley.Weirdly, I couldn't stop imagining Amliss Vess as Chase from "Paw Patrol":

  • Stephen
    2019-05-22 19:05

    3.0 to 3.5 stars. Very original and well written. The writer does an excellent job of unfolding the story slowly but still keeping the reader interested the entire time.

  • Jessica
    2019-05-31 17:43

    Hands down the weirdest, and possibly most grotesque book I have ever read. It was great.

  • The Book Whisperer (aka Boof)
    2019-06-01 14:56

    I really did not enjoy this book! It is not often I am this blatant about a book when I have actually finished it but I honestly couldn’t find any redeeming qualities at all. What I am even more annoyed about is that I kept on reading thinking that at least there would be some big revelation and reward for my time invested in reading it. It’s really difficult to say anything about Under the Skin without giving anything away but to summarise as much as I can without ruining it for anyone else brave enough to give it a go, it starts with a woman, Isserley, with huge breasts and bottle-top glasses driving up and down the A9 in the Scottish Highlands looking for hitch-hikers. She does this all day, every day and she has a particular type that she picks up (hence she can drive past the same person several times before deciding whether or not he is worth picking up). Her type is big, beefy men with lots of muscle. Anyone with a weedy frame is dismissed (and lucky for them, although they don’t know it at the time). That is about as much as I can say about the plot, but it doesn’t mean I have to stop ranting about the rest of it; hell no! This book is weird, it doesn’t make sense, it freaked me out massively, it made me feel sick and at the end I didn’t have a resolution or “aha” moment that I was craving due to having no idea what was going on in the rest of the book. I can honestly say that this is like nothing else I have ever read and I am still unsure exactly how I felt about it other than knowing that it horrified me. I couldn’t engage with any of the characters but I think that is partly because I didn’t want to get close to them at all.On Amazon and Goodreads there are really mixed reviews of Under the Skin – some love and some hate it. Judith from Leeswammes loves it (and it’s always good to have several takes on a book so that you can make the decision of whether it might be for you or not).Fortunatley I have heard that this book is very different from The Crimson Petal and the White by the same author (which I had planned to read at some point this year).When I handed this book back in at the library I told the Librarian how much I had hated it and she told me that when she worked in a bookshop they used to have a whole shelf called “Books we hated” where they would write little cards saying how much and why they hated the book. She told me that the books on this shelf always sold like hotcakes! After this review, I fully expect sales of Under the Skin to soar and I duly await my commission from Mr Faber

  • BrokenTune
    2019-06-06 14:58

    This is one book you want to read without knowing much about it.However, that makes writing a review for this book a hell of a task because I can't tell you about the salient points of this book that are both scary and funny at the same time.And there were so many aspects modern life that Faber picked up and turned on their head in this - his first - book.So, the only thing I will say is that it follows the story of Isserly, who picks up hitchhikers in northern Scotland and that I would be wary of hitching a ride on the A9.*edited 15.Feb.16 as original description slightly misleading!

  • Natalie Richards
    2019-05-28 12:56

    What a weirdly great read this was. Took me a little while to understand what was going on, I think because my brain did not want to understand. Morally challenging and completely absorbing.

  • El
    2019-06-13 18:47

    I seem to be having this issue a lot lately where I am reading other books by authors whose first book I read by them amazed me to almost-tears, and then the next one I read by them is all "Meh".My coworker borrowed this from me last week because someone else in our office is reading something else by Faber (hi, welcome to our world), and when I asked her what she thought of it when she returned to me, there was a lot of frowning and an inability to verbalize her thoughts. "It was weird" was all she was able to get out. I could tell that she didn't mean that in a good way, so of course I had to read it right away to see what it was she didn't like about it, or what was giving her difficulty. And then I remembered that my mom was the one who sent this to me, and I believe the attached note was something like "This was weird, let me know what you think."And now I'm sitting here, sort of frowning myself, not quite sure what to say.I absolutely loved Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White. I have been looking forward to reading this because a) Crimson Petal, b) movie adaptation, and c) I love when authors write completely different sorts of things. This has, for all intents and purposes, everything that I should love. But I didn't.I didn't dislike it either. It's well-written - Faber is truly an incredible writer, if these two books can be my sole example. It's interesting - I didn't fully understand all of what was happening, but I get it: (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)]Isserly is an intriguing character. Because I already know who plays her in the movie, I had trouble removing her face from my mind... though it also is, I believe, perfect casting. I look forward to seeing the movie to see if I can get a better sense of the where and the what Isserly does with these men she picks up hitchhiking. The other extraterrestrials she interacts with have left me feeling a little fuzzy as well, but I was invested in the story anyway, even though I didn't have that great of a grasp on what sort of craziness Faber was unfolding before me.I'm fairly certain I liked this, but didn't love it. I do love that this was Faber's debut novel and he didn't automatically get pigeonholed as being a science fiction writer, and that readers didn't just run around waving this book and screaming "Science fiction!" It's one of those that is more literary than genre, and I have never seen it on a science fiction shelf at a bookstore (and if I did I would probably riot because wtf).But having a discussion about this book? I'm not sure I want to. I can understand why my coworker and my mom were both uncertain about their feelings for this book. I will pass this on to my brother now, even though aliens are not his thing, just to see what he thinks. It may ruin our relationship, but what are siblings for.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>