We picked this up in Melbourne, on our way back up to Sydney. Mark wanted to read it, probably because he’d listened to the movie review and heard them talking about HOW ABSOLUTELY DIFFERENT the book is from the movie. I’m glad he did. I read it first:)
It was sitting in a pile of things on his bedside stand, and I found it while I was cleaning up one day (this happens a lot, actually), and I put it back in the shelf to read. I’d forgotten we had it. As soon as I finished up Between the World and Me, I started reading.
It is wildly, amazingly different from the movie. The two almost can’t be compared. It would be like comparing Alice’s Adventures Through the Looking-Glass with the Labyrinth: basic idea is the same, there’s a female character in the forefront on a walk through a strange land, but that’s pretty much where it ends.
And actually, that’s not a terrible thing. I read this book having no idea what in the hell was going to happen, the ending was completely unexpected, and it was all good.
Under the Skin is easily one of my favorite movies to come out recently, even if I can’t exactly recommend it to everyone. While this has been a great year for books, I’d probably put the book up near the top of the list as well. It’s not the heartbreak of Ishiguro, but it’s still good. And I think the fact that it was completely unexpected helps that.
In THIS story, Isserley (she has a name!) CHOSE to do this job. I’m not going to spoil the book or the ending, but: ALIENS, who are (of course) far advanced compared to us, and see us as animals that walk on 2 legs.
I really, really don’t want to spoil any of it for anyone who has seen the movie and wants to read the book. I imagine, though, that if I had read the book and THEN seen the movie, I might be annoyed or even disappointed. However, since that’s not my case, I can say that I like the movie for its own reasons, and the book for its own, very different reasons.
The book does a great job of revealing, little by little, what these other ‘beings’ are, and the reasons Isserley is out ‘hunting’: it almost fucks with our expectations and uses them against us. There are scenes in the beginning when we might imagine, for instance, that the ‘people’ she is talking to are people like us. It’s only later we get to read more and figure out that they certainly are not.
The book is also pretty satirical about a few things. One of my favorite parts of the story revolves around the idea that ‘we shouldn’t eat animals’, and gives the vegetarianism argument a great workout. It almost comes out of nowhere. I wasn’t expecting that at all.
Definitely worth reading. Go buy it now. I’d really like to read more books that inhabit this world/this universe, because I find the idea Faber puts forward really interesting.