[REVIEW] Under the Skin – Michel Faber

Michel Faber
Under the Skin
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US: 16th July 2001); HarperCollins (CA: 16th September 2004); Canongate (UK: 6th March 2014)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

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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