Posted by: jacstar | September 27, 2008

Under the Skin by Michel Faber

A few years ago I walked into a small bookstore as they were setting up their October display. They asked what the scariest book I’d ever read was. At that time I hadn’t read any that really stood out so I just said The Shining as I heard it’s pretty scary.

They were putting their scary selections on display and “Under the Skin” had caught my eye. The woman explained that she’s been asking customers for the scariest stories and one man said that this book was by far the scariest.

Well ok, I’ll give it a try.

The book was different, to say the least. It’s about this “woman” Isserley, who picks up hitchhikers on dark, less-travelled roads. The hitchhiker has to meet a certain criteria. They have to be big, strong males with no one to search for them if they disappear.

This story is similar to Animal Farm (by George Orwell) in a way. Isserley belongs to a ‘species’ of animal rather than human. This species is wolf-like and they prey and feed off of captured humans. The world is reversed; humans are treated like wild dogs needing to be captured and crated, and the story is told from the perspective of the species doing the crating.

Isserley has had several operations so that she can pass as human. She walks on two legs and has had hair removal surgery as well. She doesn’t like walking on two legs as this is unnatural but do the surgeries she can no longer walk on four.

As I said before, the story is different – but I wouldn’t say scary. I don’t even remember being ‘thrilled’ by it. I thought there were major plot points missing and Isserley wasn’t overly interesting.

I did like the tranquilizing of hitchhikers, that was kind of exciting.

Overall I give this a 4 out of 10. It’s readable, and possibly enjoyable – but it’s not fulfilling.

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