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Under The Skin Paperback – Sep 16 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial Canada (Sept. 16 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006393721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006393726
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.5 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tokyo Joe on Feb. 5 2011
Format: Paperback
The intrigue at the start of Michel Faber's debut quickly draws the reader in: Isserley, an enigmatic young woman, combs the Scottish Highlands picking up muscular, male hitchhikers for reasons unknown. When Isserley's intentions are first revealed as possibly sinister, the reader is going nowhere; the need to know more is too strong.

The way in which Faber builds this intrigue is commendable, treating his reader with great respect by never spoon-feeding. The reader learns through observation, and takes a dark back seat to watch the action unfold.

When finally the horror of it all is exposed, the story changes direction, and becomes something very different. A moral question begins to dig itself out of the ground, and the reader is forgiven for thinking they can see the true story, but Faber again changes tack, and adds a spiritual and philosophical slant to the dénouement. These turns give the novel a literary quality, and no doubt contributed to the short-listing for the Whitbread Prize.

Isserley is understandably sterile, her lack of compassion essential for her `job', and it's refreshing to invest in a character that is not altogether sympathetic. But despite her professional apathy, her inner conflict does elicit empathy, and gives the novel a sharp edge that could otherwise have been dulled by a less brave writer.

But for all this, Under the Skin falls a wee bit short.

The quality of the prose is good in parts, but the excessive use of clichés and adverbs betrays Faber as unseasoned. His handling of dialogue particularly flaws the work, with every spoken word needing adverbial clarification of some description.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau TOP 100 REVIEWER on March 13 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderfully inventive novel that is strangely compelling. It cuts across many genres, as it certainly qualifies as literary fiction, horror, satire, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy. It is extraordinarily riveting in its telling, propelled by a narrative that is all at once creepy, faintly sinister and macabre, as well as, at times, poignant. Beautifully written in clear, spare prose, this stunning novel grips the reader until the last page is turned.

The main protagonist, Isserley, cruises the highways of the Scottish countryside in her specially equipped compact car looking for beefcake. On the prowl for muscular, well-built, healthy men who are hitchhiking, rolling stones with little or no ties to family, friends, and community, she picks them up and gets their life's story before she makes a momentous decision that will forever alter their lives.

These unsuspecting men take note of Isserley for a number of reasons. After all, she is a tiny snippet of a being, strangely erotic, with very large, beautiful and luminous eyes, hidden behind coke bottle thick glasses. She has a small heart-shaped, puffy-cheeked, virtually chinless face, dotted with a tiny nose and lush lips. Her arms are long and thin with knobby elbows and wrists from which large scarred hands flow. Of course, her large breasts are extraordinary and ripe in her always low cut top. It is those perfect protuberances that helps her to ensnare her prey.

Who Isserley is and what Isserley does with her prey is at the heart of this book, which is one that should not be missed by those who enjoy unusual, slightly twisted novels.
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Format: Paperback
The author's working a simple really good concept. Already it's better than 95% out there. There are real moments in this story that will stay with the reader long after reading it. But the story's both a little stretched out/repetitive and not developed enough. Are there no more editors out there? That's what an editor used to do-shape up what's there and tighten things up. It's amazing concepts this strong don't appear more often. (Or I don't know where to look). An author to look out for.
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By Tez Miller TOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 31 2014
Format: Paperback
The edition I read included a foreword by David Mitchell. Though clearly he tried not to, he let slip two spoilers. Major spoilers. So if you're trying Michel Faber's UNDER THE SKIN for the first time, DON'T get the edition with the white cover with hooks depicted. Or if you do, skip David Mitchell's foreword and read that later. Story first, y'all.

And what a story it is! Hard to write about without spoilers, so here's my best attempt: Isserley picks up fit young male hitchhikers in the Scottish highlands. Why she does this and how it's revealed are well detailed and fascinating.

You may have heard of a recent film, starring Scarlett Johansson, based on this novel. I haven't seen it myself, but apparently the premise is the same, whilst the execution and plot are very different. Also, the advertising/marketing for the film reveals one of the book's major spoilers, so tread carefully.

The driving can be rather tedious at times, but the rest of the story is an absolute cracker. It could have been quite pedestrian in the hands of another writer, but Michel Faber crafts with wit and nuance, going for psychology rather than schlock. A wonderfully grim late-night read.
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