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Under The Skin

Under The Skin [Kindle Edition]

Michel Faber
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Isserley always drove straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up. She was looking for big muscles: a hunk on legs. Puny, scrawny specimens were no use to her.
So begins Michel Faber's first novel: a lone female scouts the Scottish Highlands in search of well-proportioned men and the reader is given to expect the unfolding of some latter-day psychosexual drama. But commonplace expectation is no guide for this strange and deeply unsettling book; small details at first, then more major clues, suggest that something deeply bizarre is afoot. What are the reason's for Isserley's extensive surgical scarring, her thick glasses (which are just glass), her excruciating backache? Who are the solitary few who work on the farm where her cottage is located? And why are they all nervous about the arrival of someone called Amlis Vess?

The ensuing narrative is one of such cumulative, compelling strangeness that it almost defies description--the one thing that can be said with certainty is that Under The Skin is unlike anything else you have ever read. The result is a narrative of enormous imaginative and emotional coherence from a writer whose control of his medium is nearly flawless and who applies the rules of psychological realism to a fictional world that is terrifying and unearthly to the point that the reader's identification with Isserley becomes one of absolute sympathy.

Michel Faber's debut deserves to inherit and expand upon the acclaim bestowed upon his short-story collection Some Rain Must Fall. Under the Skin is a reviewer's nightmare and a reader's dream: a book so distinctive, so elegantly written and so original that all one can say is simply to experience it. An extraordinary first book. -- Burhan Tufail


'... strange, adept, original ... Would that more first novels were as adventurous or as funky and daring in their conception.' - Independent on Sunday --Independent on Sunday

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1140 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; New edition edition (1 Jan 2000)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002VM7FVW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (223 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #118 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning, intensely clever book 20 Mar 2002
By A Customer
Under The Skin is a really excellent novel. This book is truly unputdownable. Not only is it a gripping page turner, it is very, very well written. Also it gives the reader an opportunity to examine the issues involved at a higher level if they so wish. I will not explain anything of the plot, as I would not want to spoil anyone else's pleasure in the suspense and intrigue. Enough to say that you are puzzled and surprised right up to the end. Not a word is wasted. Although there are a few red herrings thrown about this is by no means a criticism. Faber draws us in, and then surprises us with another strange dimension. He could have been tempted into politicising or sentimentality, but he keeps his narrative firmly on the rails. The message in the book speaks for itself, and, when I reluctantly finished it, I was very surprised to find myself thinking about a lot more that hitch hikers in Scotland. This book has been placed on my shelf of 'best ever reads', which is still fairly small despite nearly thirty years of reading adult fiction. Thank you Michel Faber, and I look forward to reading more of your work.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a mesmerising heart of darkness 29 Aug 2010
By Sentinel TOP 500 REVIEWER
Given the many previous reviews, it's difficult to avoid repetition here. Still, here goes: this is one of the most haunting, mesmerising, beautifully unsettling books I've ever read (and I've read by the skip-load!). What begins as a strange journey with elements of gothic/serial killer/thriller, develops into a beautifully written and heartbreaking road down which we accompany Isserley, the main character, into a richly imagined world.
Faber only gradually reveals the complex forces which underpin Isserley's role, and the moral and ethical dilemmas she encounters, with which we are also encouraged to wrestle, and not rush to judgement. The book's dark heart opens to explore what it means to survive in this world (do ends justify means?), the price paid for loyalty, solitude and loneliness, love and redemption, all set within an unforgettable isolated backdrop in the Black Isle in Scotland.
If you can't be arsed reading something which I've made sound difficult/pretentious, fear not, for the momentum and the pace of Faber's mesmerising grip on the plot flings you headlong through revelation after revelation, as you hurtle through the twists and turns of this astonishing novel. I wager you'll come out at the other end exhausted, wiser, and unable to shake the dark beauty of this story for a long time. An essential read.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent 18 Sep 2003
By robulus
I had just read 'the Crimson Petal and the White' and loved Faber's writing style, but like many others was ultimately disappointed. I decided the author was worth another shot and picked up 'Under the Skin', his first novel. What a joy that I did.
As you will no doubt be aware by now the storyline of this novel is amazing, unique, and cannot be described in any way as it will ruin the slow revelation for others. But the storyline is a distant second to the writing, the same story would have been laughable in any other writer's hands. Faber's understated style swings from poetry to street slang with the reader hardly noticing. It is completely immersive and vivid, with an almost drug enhanced hyper-reality to it.
Most amazing of all is the depth of character, and how we come to know and feel about the characters he creates. You will come to understand Isserley intimately, and care about her deeply. In the context of this novel such an achievement cannot be praised highly enough.
It is also gratifying to have the story resolved, something he stole from us in the Crimson Petal.
Get this book and read it as soon as you can.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I wonder if Faber chose the title because he knew what effect it would have on his readers? If so, he was spot on: you can forget any horror / sci-fi/ psychological thriller you may have read before, because this novel will invade your mind and keep you awake at night.
Set against the bleak emptiness of rural Scotland, Isserley cruises up and down the lonely roads searching for fit young male hitchikers. What promises to be a raunchy exploration of female sexuality, turns into something strange sinister and nasty, and it has to be said - completely unexpected.
This book blew me away. I have never read a novel that has "got" to me as much, and not only because in parts it is pretty graphic, but also because it made me sit up and evaluate humanity's relationship with other creatures, and our blind imperialism over species not our own.
There are flaws: Given Isserley's past, she should be an immaculately constructed character in her own right. She is not, and this wekens the considerable impact of the book. Likewise, the reader's disbelief is occasionally asked to suspend a bridge too far, but these are minor quibbles in a generally excellent work.
"Under The Skin" is a refreshing and unconventional tale with a disturbing flavour and unsettling plot. Faber's greatest achievement however, is to make us sympathise with Isserley, a character we cannot begin to understand.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly memorable, stunning tale. 29 Jan 2002
By A Customer
The rear page reviews of any novel usually need to be taken with a pinch of salt; this novels reviews are the exception. I had never heard of Faber before and was given this book as a Christmas present, based solely on the rear cover. I can honestly say that I have only once before been so pleasantly surprised with an unknown book (Host, Peter James).
The tale is based around a female character, Isserley who is introduced as a car driver with quite specific criteria for picking up hitchhikers. Your mind formulates its own ideas as to her purpose, but I can confidently say that you will spend the book rebuilding them as Faber leads you further and further from your initial predictions. Isserley is very well written and manages to evoke an array of conflicting feelings from the reader. Her origins, daily tasks and moral questions drive the story, which is pleasantly interjected with the thoughts of hitchers she collects. To reveal more of the book would spoil the experience, suffice it to say that I would have struggled to categorise this book as it fits many criteria outside of just plain fiction. Every time I was forced to put this book down it was with a pang of regret, given the opportunity I would have consumed it in one sitting.
I enjoyed the style of writing and the characters but most of all I loved the story. The back cover states.."It'll get to you, one way or the other", absoloutly spot on, this is a book which you will want to talk about as soon as you finish it (Isn't that frustrating?). Satirical, challenging but overall highly entertaining, Under the Skin will not be forgotten in a hurry!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Tread where angels fear to tread, if you dare.
Definitely not for the fainthearted or those of a sensative disposition. As I read through Isserley's long journey I constantly asked myself, 'Why am I reading this book? Read more
Published 18 hours ago by Mrs. R. A. Sayer
2.0 out of 5 stars I loved the movie
Hmm - this is a marmite thing: I loved the movie, then read the book which is quite different.
I think if this had not been made into a movie no one would ever have read it,... Read more
Published 3 days ago by MB
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulously mysterious
Under the skin is a bizarre mystery, the answer to which the reader never learns. It is an out of the box view, in a way, into the food chain, how food is produced, ethics, nature,... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Ms. J. Ashton
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Cold, Sexy
Ooh I adored it - very dark, very sensual, very cold. Beautiful novel that kept me completely enthralled on a long plane journey
Published 19 days ago by Jilly
2.0 out of 5 stars Distasteful
Whilst I was intrigued by the plot of this book I found some of its more disturbing scenarios distasteful. I returned it.
Published 1 month ago by JF Horton
4.0 out of 5 stars maybe that was for the best! An ideal book for someone who likes...
Not what I was expecting at all....which was a striaight forward 'murder' type thing!!! Also a bit disapppointing as wanted to know more about what was going on...... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Wightbaby
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
entirely satisfied thank you
Published 1 month ago by lynne clements
5.0 out of 5 stars The visuals are like nothing that I have seen before despite the links...
Outstanding film, although I did not think so when I saw it at the cinema. Scarlett Johannson is remarkable in the role of the alien. Read more
Published 1 month ago by jonnyreb
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book
I loved this book. Although it shares the central concept with the film of the same name the details are very different. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rachel Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful. A book that stays with you
Scary, wonderful. A book that stays with you.
Published 1 month ago by M. Copeman
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