After reading this, you might turn into a vegan.

Written by
Michael Faber in 2000

Full disclosure, I was recommended this book not by Scarlett Johansson, but by a fellow blogger who took umbrage to my review of The Book of Strange New Things. Which, by the way, I still stand by. Apparently, Under the Skin would be more to my liking, so I started this book with an optimistic and hopeful mood.

We meet Isserley, a woman with big boobs who drives around the Scottish countryside kidnapping men for nefarious purposes. It’s gradually revealed that Isserley is an alien who comes from a technologically advance civilization, whose world has been turned barren. A social underclass (from which Isserley has escaped) supports an upper class who love to eat meat.

Namely, human meat, which Isserley “farms” on Earth by kidnapping men and sending them off to get fattened up.

It’s a job, it keeps her fed, housed and relatively comfortable. Apart from all that gnarly surgery she underwent to look remotely human. And those boobs? Totally fake to attract men and keep them off guard.

Can I say that while this was obviously an improvement upon The Book of Strange New Things, in that stuff happens, and it’s satirical in nature, that I was still kind of bored throughout? There are some books where you think to yourself “I can’t wait to see what happens at the end”. This book is more like “I got to the end, and it’s greatly disappointing”. And I can’t fault it, because that’s kind of the message inherent in its story and its message.

You try to do your best, but the world keeps on going in the way that it will go. Whether you take that job or not, there are others who would be more than willing to fill the vacancy. So do you do it, knowing you might well be doing a bad thing?

I won’t say Under the Skin is wonderful, and perhaps that’s down to Michael Faber’s understated style of writing. It’s fine, in that way everybody says ‘fine’. It means nothing, and we can all just go on our merry way. Maybe I just need explosions and gory-damned deaths to get engaged in a story. Or maybe, just maybe, this book isn’t all that good to begin with. I don’t know, and I’m not sure I want to get another book by Faber just to find out.


Tastes like it needs a little bit more sauce. Pass the gravy.

Read this if you…

Think that we should all tuck into your vegetables at night.

Skip this if you…

Prefer a nice, juicy, medium-rare steak with all the trimmings.


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