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Under The Skin by [Faber, Michel]
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Under The Skin Kindle Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 379 customer reviews

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Length: 305 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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


'The fantastic is so nicely played against the day-to-day that one feels the strangeness of both ... A remarkable novel.' New York Times

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1452 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:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars 379 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #19,765 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First I would say that if possible you should avoid looking at any reviews before reading this book, and also any preface or introduction to the work. (This short review is ok though, as I won't give you a clue about the content.) With the film due out soon it's going to be tricky to avoid, so best perhaps to read it now!

Read this book if you want to experience something totally new and unexpected; read it if you love good prose; read it if you like the sense of being wrong-footed by the author and continually left off-balance, but more than anything read it with an open mind and it'll leave your critical faculties suspended.

As many people have said, Under the Skin is difficult to put down and will almost certainly stay imprinted on your mind long after you've finished it.
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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