“Most true things are kind of corny, don’t you think? But we make them more sophisticated out of sheer embarrassment.”
What is this book about?
Peter is a criminal turned preacher who found God after meeting his wife Beatrice in the hospital. They fall in love, he finds God and together they try to live a good life and to spread the word of their savior. This brings Peter and Bea to Usic, a scary, large nondescript organization that is working with a bunch of scientists on the planet Oasis. They recruit Peter to go to Oasis as a missionary for the aliens who live their. He jets off to a distant planet while Bea stays home and throughout his mission he gets more and more disturbing news from her about Earth and how everything there is going to hell.
Why is it boring?
This book is a science fiction story with remarkably little sci-fi. Sure, there are aliens and a strange looking planet with very interesting characteristics, but that’s about it. This is not a sci-fi story. It’s a story about love and humanity. So don’t expect fights in space or anything too exciting.
Who would you recommend it to?
The story is quite slow, but well written and great for lovers of people who want their sci-fi to be low on the sci-fi. I would say this is a good recommendation for people who enjoyed books like Station Eleven and California, as it also seeks out the human drama in the midst of world-shattering problems. The crisis of Faith for both Peter and Bea might appeal to anyone who needs to sing along with Bon Jovi’s Keep The Faith as well. I’m not sure if it will renew your faith, but it might be nice to see what someone else is going through.
Why should I read it if it’s boring?!
This is my first Faber book and I was somewhat disappointed. He’s about the only Dutch author I know that made it big by writing in English and is therefore kind of a hero to me. The Book of Strange New Things is not at all a bad book, but the story meanders and the ending just sort of happened. The descriptions of Oasis and the Oasans are amazing though, Faber paints you a vivid picture of what they and everyone else look and sound like. Peter is somewhat annoying as our main character, especially when he needs to be a husband instead of a preacher and fails miserably at that. You just want to smack his head against his church wall to wake him up from what he’s doing. I was mostly disappointed with the end, because during the story the mystery of Usic and the end of the world is being set up. Faber then never follows through on that and decides to solely focus on the relationship of Peter and Bea and theirs to God. This is a great angle, especially knowing that he wrote this while his wife was very ill, but then I didn’t see the point in setting up a mystery at all. It feels somewhat like his focus shifted halfway through and some strands of the story were forgotten along the way. But as this is the last book Faber says he’ll write, you should give it a read for that reason alone.