First things first, I can not believe Michel Faber isn’t a vegan or at least a vegetarian after reading Under the Skin….anyone else who’s read this MUST understand where I’m coming from with this one
Secondly – though I’ve never done it before and am never likely to – after reading this there is absolutely no way in hell, I would hitch hike.
Thirdly, I haven’t seen the film, but I do not picture Scarlett Johansson. From what I’ve read about the film, I’d say it appears to be very loosely based on this book.
So, what’s Under the skin about?
Isserley spends her days driving alone through the Scottish Highlands, looking for male hitchhikers to pick up.
She’s after a very specific type. They must be male, they must be muscly, they must be big.
All is not what it seems with Isserley, she’s in constant pain with back ache, she’s scarred all over, she has the thickest glasses ever seen, she’s more than a little odd.
On top of that, there’s something strange about the farm where Isserley lives and works with a few men.
Talking about the plot of Under the skin without giving anything away is proving difficult.
It’s also quite hard to define its genre; it’s dystopian, it’s a mystery, it’s a thriller, it’s a crime story and it raises questions around class, sexism, big business, factory farming, the environment, identity, division and mercy.
It’s a book that keeps you turning the pages as Faber drops more and more clues about Isserley and paints a picture of remote, wild landscapes.
I could see the roads Isserley was prowling, I imagined the weather. In my head this story unfolded in November, I could see grey skies, mist and fog and drizzle – a bit like looking out of my window most days in January to be honest.
It’s quite a discomfiting to read, as a reader I wasn’t sure what the truth about Isserley was but it’s clear from the very first sentence that there’s something dark and disturbing behind her actions.
Faber builds tension constantly, slowly revealing more about Isserley and the work being carried out at the farm, he does it in a way that keeps you reading no matter how uncomfortable you’re feeling.
I can imagine this is a book that you’ll either love or hate.
It did take me a few pages to get into it, but those early pages did enough to pique my curiosity, I wanted to know what the crack was with this weird other worldly woman who was out stalking the roads.
It’ll make you question certain things, think about ethics and social constructs.
If you’re up for a tense, creepy read then this will more than likely be up your street.
Would love to hear from anyone else who’s read this or seen the film and what they thought of it….
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