13 Jan 2011

Review: "Under the Skin" - it does actually get under your skin...

I read "The Crimson Petal and the White" by Michel Faber a couple of years ago and immediately loved it. Since then it has been one of those books that I use when I need a good present for someone because it really is an amazing book.
So a couple of days ago I read "Under the Skin" by Michel Faber, hoping for the same kind of amazing reading experience. I got a reading experience but not quite the one I had bargained for... It actually left me with physical reactions.

Isserley spends her days driving through Scotland, forth and back on the A9. She knows all the good place, she knows exactly where the good spots are. Where she will find the good hitchhikers. Isserley won't pick up any random hitchhiker, she only wants men and she only wants men with large muscles, men that have broad shoulders and big biceps. The scrawny ones she leaves behind. Then she cross-examines them: do you have a wife, girlfriend? Are you expected somewhere? Does anyone know where you are? Are you employed? As she questions them, she decides their fates. All I can say is that for the hitchhikers' sakes, I hope that they are found lacking because this will be the last drive of their life.

What happens with the hitchhikers? Where does Isserley take them? And what is it actually with Isserley? Why is she so different?

This novel was nothing like I expected. Nothing. Once I began reading it, it was impossible to put down. Even though it was not exactly a pleasant read. For every page I got more and more nauseous and even just writing this review, my stomach has started to turn. This was a nasty book that raised a lot of questions in my mind about the way we live, about how we treat each other, about what the world is coming to. It is a very very creepy book. If you like dystopia, fantasy, thrillers, mystery, great quality writing from a very accomplished author, then this is something for you.
Will I read it again? I seriously doubt it... At least right now, I can't stomach it.


  1. Wow, this sounds excellent! I love these kinds of stories, and I've never heard of this book before. Will definitely have to look for it now!

  2. Cool! The author has an amazing talent, it is so well-written!

  3. I loved "The Crimson Petal and the White" too, and I'm glad to find someone else that enjoyed it. I think it went a bit under the radar and it's not as popular or well known as it should be.

    This one has gone straight on my wishlist :)

  4. Wow this sounds like no other book I've ever heard. I never read a book that made me feel sick so I may have to read this!

  5. @Sam: I agree, too few people know and value it, it is such a great book.

    @Andrea: Just make sure you don't read it while having lunch :-)

  6. I've wondered about Faber's other books but because what I really want at the moment is another crimson petal I've decided to steer clear. Your review makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing for now, but he's a remarkable writer and I'm sure his books aren't done with me yet