Under the Skin by Michel Faber (Audiobook) This is kind of a weird book to get my head around. I picked it up because it was mentioned in a podcast as a book that transcended genre… that the characters were so great that even people who hate science fiction could get into it. Overall, I have to agree with that, with a few caveats.
One, I would not label this science fiction, even though there are aliens in it. Overall, it feels very literary to me. Literary science fiction? Yeah, like I said… it’s hard to get your head around. The main character is, if effect, a serial killer. She picks up hitchhikers and decides which will live and which will die in a horrific manner. Don’t judge her though. She’s just doing her job. That’s the weird thing… you are so centered in this girl’s head that you do feel like you are doing this horrible job with her. The author does a great job of removing empathy and mercy from this character’s psyche (after all, she is not human) and you really bond with her and are along for the ride (not as her hitchhikers, thank goodness.)
What I found a bit odd, though, was the ending. I guess that I expected something fantastic because this is science fiction at heart. But instead… Well, I don’t want to ruin it, but this is one of the reasons this feels literary to me. In some instances, I feel like maybe the author had developed this amazing character, but then didn’t know what to do with her. So instead of developing more of an arc, the story ended. Either that, or the story is literary, thus making the ending absolutely brilliant. Again… tough call. Overall, though, despite the great characterization, this story left me pretty unfulfilled. If you like literary, give this a try and let me know what you think (Don’t worry, it does not read like a scifi AT ALL.)