In a network of lines that enlace

20-something Londoner with a tendency toward book ranting.

Not the plot it could have been

Under The Skin - Michel Faber

This is another book I read due to the film trailer. I was also recommended it by someone who said I would enjoy it due its science fiction nature; but insisted it wasn’t a science fiction novel.


I would disagree on this point, but do understand why some would say that. It’s a well written novel, focusing on the emotion of characters, and the nature of ‘humanity.’ What makes a life form worthy of respect? And how do we decide what life forms have consciousness, and how much credit do we give their way of life?


The plot is centred around Isserly, an alien life form who has been altered to look like a human woman. She spends her days driving across Scotland looking for muscular male hitchhikers, whom she drugs, takes back to the farm and are eventually slaughtered for their meat. Isserly’s home appears to be a society in chaos, and now due to the surgery she can now never return to.


The novel is an introspective work, which is interesting and well done in itself; however the plot doesn’t lend itself to that. The back story was far too interesting to leave half mentioned. I wanted to know what Isserly’s home world was like, and how they had ever stumbled upon earth in the first place. How their society worked, what the Estates were, and why human flesh was such a delicacy. These questions are never answered, and it bothered me.


The novel discusses how we decide whether a life form has consciousness, and how much regard we have for that if they are to be eventually eaten. It also calls into question the manner of killing for food; what is merciful and what is cruel. This worked with the storyline, but was done in such an unsubtle manner that it lost most of its impact on me. It could have been written far better without being so starkly and consistently hammered into the reader.


It is well written, but somewhat disappointing.  

Currently reading

Dangerous Women
George R.R. Martin, Gardner Dozois
Progress: 201/800 pages