Sunday, 9 April 2017

Under the Skin by Michel Faber

"Already he looked much like all the others she had picked up; later, when his clothes were off, he would look more or less identical."

I've avoided reading this for quite some time and I have no idea why. This is one of those rare instances where I watched the film before reading the novel and I'm slightly miffed because I was haunted by Scarlett Johanssen and a little too aware of what was really going on. Both the novel and the film are excellent and if you've not encountered either, I think perhaps, as is usually the best bet, go for the book first.

So how to discuss the novel without giving too much away. It is rather difficult. Potential spoilers coming. There is this fascinating juxtaposition of the way we treat dogs versus cattle and they way (spoiler alert) the aliens harvest their human meat. The alien identifies as human and the locals as lower life forms. Her reaction to sheep is particularly interesting. 

Apart from harvesting lonely, male, hitchhikers,the protagonist wrestles with her transformation to fit in with the locals - the overblown boobs based upon a local magazine ( I think we know which kind), the mutilation of her natural form and the troubling feelings that immersion with the vodsels have evoked.  Faber has this amazing way of humanising the aliens and by doing so, causing the reader to think closely about what it means to be human.

Good news also that this is another tick on the 1001 list and the guardian list. Yes, I'm list mad, you should know that by now.

5 out of 5 - A thrilling read.

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