Anyone ever read any Michel Faber? If you have you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say no two of his books are anything alike, well except for The Apple: The Crimson Petal Stories, which is a follow-up to The Crimson Petal and the White. I’m the only one in my family who liked ‘Crimson and White’. Nothing new there. I’m used to living in intellectual solitude.
No surprise either when you begin Under the Skin and have no idea where it’s leading, much like the start of a dinner conversation with your wife. But, you press on, because in a marriage, silence is perilous, not golden. So it is with Under the Skin. You keep going, but not on faith alone. Faber has a way of drawing you in, all the while twisting the plot, making you want to know just a little more. Good novelists are like that. They convince you right off the bat that the life they’re telling you about is one hell-of-a-lot more interesting than your own.
What can I mention about Under the Skin without spilling too much, spoiling the surprise, ruining the plot? How about I tease you with the first few lines?
“Isserley always drove straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up. Puny, scrawny specimens were no use to her.” So, you’re asking yourself, is this a serial killer? A random story of wonderfully titillating illicit sex? Yes and no to all of the above.
Isserley is a strange and astonishing character. When she picks up her hitch-hikers, and takes them for a ride, they open up to her, exposing their feeling, and dreams, all the while giving you an in-depth glimpse into our modern lives. You’re almost mysteriously swept into the meaning of what it means to be human. Compassion? Determination? Faber explores our common instincts and values, with a scintillating plot that drives you deeper and deeper into terror, and justice, with an ending that leaves you gasping.
You might say Under the Skin is part science fiction, part mystery, and part life lessons. Too cryptic? That’s the problem with Faber, as I said, you never know where he’s going, what’s true and what’s an illusion. But, wherever it is, the plot is so compelling he leaves you dying to follow.
No mistake. This is a Disturbing book. Capital D. It’s also an edge of the seat thriller. Days and weeks afterwards, you’ll still be brooding about it. If you’re unlucky, it will` haunt your daydreams and make you miss your wife’s helpful comments about every one of your truly insignificant shortcomings. Ah, well, there are disadvantages to everything.
Under the Skin is available on Amazon, and yes, there is a kindle version.