Book Review: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Book Review: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Woah... just, Woah!
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Michel Faber has to be one of the most ground-breaking authors of the 21st century. He is widely known for his 2002 book, "The Crimson Petal and the White." Which was also made into a TV miniseries! He has also written many short stories surround this hit book, as well as "Under The Skin," The Fire Gospel," "One Hundred and Nintey Nine Steps," "The Courage Consort" and "The Book of Strange New Things."

"The Book of Strange New Things" was written in 2014 and according to Faber, it may be the last book he ever writes. And boy did I have quite an interesting experience with this book.

Peter is a 33 year old Christian minister, who is chosen by USIC to take a journey to a distant earth-like planet called Oasis. His purpose is to teach the inhabitants about Christianity, the natives or "the Oasians" as they are called, have already gone through 2 previous pastors, both of which disappeared under unknown circumstances. During his stay on Oasis, he gets to know the Oaisans and makes a friend, Alex Grainger, the USIC's pharmacist, "The Oasians" have their own language, and in the text, they are written out in symbol's, clearly so the reader is unable to understand. They also can't use "T"s or S's in their vocabulary, so these symbols substitute the letters for possible reasons to the structure of their vocal chords. This is interesting because we don't know the type of sounds they make, leaving it up to the reader to imagine the noises they make. They are also naturally stoic creatures and are almost genderless that Peter seems to rely on his own intuition to distinguish who's female and who's male.

Also, during Peter's stay, he exchanges messages with his wife back on Earth. While they exchange how much they miss each other and love each other, there is also something darker happening. With every message that Bea sends, it describes something that's been happening back on earth. It starts out small with some certain goods not in stock at the local supermarket, but then it escalates. Bea begins to describe natural disasters creating destruction and death on massive scales, economic discomfort, political decline and violence breaking out in the streets and how hard she is trying to get by without her husband. There is no given explaination to it, but its hinted at why all the people that work for USIC don't seem in a rush to go back home. Peter tries his best to give Bea all the comfort he can while he's away, but he begins to spend time with the Oaisans more and more, and communicating with his wife less and less.

This is where I found myself hating Peter, he seems so dedicated to teaching the Oaisans about God he seems to forget he has a wife sometimes. In the first three chapters of the book, its made very clear that Peter and Bea really love eachother, There is alot of depth given to their relationship throughout the book, talking about how Peter was a drug addict who met Bea who was a nurse in a hospital he was treated at. Upon getting married, he turned his life around and became a Christian minister, and he seems very passionate about it, which seems to work against him. Throughout the first half of the book, Peter attempts to comfort Bea by reminding her to pray to God and other religious advice, something Bea seems to get annoyed with. It all takes a major turn when Bea finally claims to have no more faith and on top of that, she is pregnant with Peter's child.

*SKIP THIS TO AVOID SPOILERS*

The ending of the book was probably the most bitter-sweet-at-the-same-time-emptiest ending I've ever read. Peter finally decides he wants to go back to Earth, which is now dying, to be with his wife and child. However, before he leaves, Bea sends him a message not to return to Earth because it will comfort her to know he is okay, and to make sure he doesn't come back. she is moving house. But Peter, who seems to have lost his faith in God, still chooses to go back. And it really is left up to us to decide whether Peter and Bea reunite or not. This ending was hopeful, but at the same time, it isn't. It made everything Peter was doing seem pointless. He goes to a planet to teach the natives about God and yet he looses his own faith, so what is the whole point of teaching Christianity? And does he ever find his wife? I personelly don't believe he does, but by how he is written, I don't think he ever gave up hope. That's really just my opinion.

*SKIP THIS TO AVOID SPOILERS*

Michel Faber wrote this book at time he was dealing with loosing his wife, Eva, to cancer. This leads me to believe that the deteriorating relationship between Bea and Peter is sort of an allegory to the author loosing his wife. Peter loves Bea, and Bea loves Peter. In the book it's made clear they barely spent long periods of time apart, and the distance, gets between them during Peter's stay on Oasis. As Peter and Bea begin to grow distant, so does Peter and his Christian faith. He constantly tries to remind himself that God has a plan, but he can't bring himself to accept everything that is happening to his wife back on earth, even if it means abandoning his mission.

Many of the other characters were really just there for the background, coming into the spotlight just to show how Peter interacts with the other members of USIC. Alex Grainger gets her own character growth. She starts out like everyone else, seemingly stoic, focused only on her own self-interests and doesn't care much for the Oaisans or Peter's work. As the book progresses, we learn more about Alex and she seems to be a person suppressing her emotions for the sake of everyone around her. When Peter comes along, she seeks comfort with him, and they grow a special bond which sometimes seems romantic.

Actually most of the members of the USIC don't seem to care much about the Oasians, even acknowledging them as freaks, The only other contact the humans and the Oaisans ever make is when they exchange medical supplies for food surplus. The food on Oasis is made solely from a white flower, and its harvested and seasoned to resemble and taste like foods from Earth. It's never explained in full detail and adds a level of mystery to the Oaisans. Even at the end of the book we still know very little about them. What we do know is that they have a very fragile anatomy, anything as simple as a bruise can cause severe damage.

There is alot more I could discuss about the book, but I want you to read it and experience it you're self. This book is very well written, keeps you turning the pages, taps into your emotions and raises a few questions along the way!

But these are just my opinions. Have you read the book? If so, what did you think. Comment below and good luck with midterms.

Cover Image Credit: google images

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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The 7 Best Food Places Near UCLA You Need to Try ASAP

We have great dining food AND restaurants around us? Wow, we are #blessed.

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Westwood is the home to UCLA and offers plenty of interesting and diverse dining options for students and locals alike. Since the area is firmly Bruin territory, you will find lots of on-the-go, affordable eats along with a mix of more modern and upscale restaurants.

Though I definitely haven't had all the food Westwood occurs, being here two years now (omg already!?), I think I can safely recommend certain places to eat.

1. Shamshiri Grill

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South Westwood Boulevard is often referred to as Little Tehran, so most of that area is just Persian restaurants. Shamshiri Grill just makes the best meat and whenever I go there, I always order my meal with their special hot sauce, that is to DIE for. A must try.

2. Gushi

I can not tell you how many times I've been to this place. Located near Fat Sal's, you may be tempted to just miss it but let me tell you that is a mistake. I always get their Gushi Bowl which is just heavenly and the right amount to make me feel satisfied without being too filling. Be generous with the Teriyaki and Sriracha sauces on your meat and you are guaranteed to have a good time.

3. Pinches Tacos

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I know Mexican food is very common wherever you go but Pinches Tacos is aesthetically pleasing and their food? Even more so. It just tastes so good! I definitely recommend the Asada fries and any tacos.

4. Saffron and Rose

Saffron and Rose is a Persian ice cream parlor like 10 minutes away from Shamshiri Grill and the quality and variety of ice cream is truly impressive. I would not have known my weakness for Jasmine ice cream if I hadn't tried this place and as always, the Saffron and Rose (it's namesake) deserves to be the name of the restaurant because of how rich in flavor it is.

5. Maharaja

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I am very particular about my Indian food but the buffets in the afternoons at Maharaja definitely passes my checklist. I actually went there for my birthday so that just tells you how the food doesn't disappoint.

6. Nekter Juice Bar

I found out about this place very recently and I'm so glad I did because their bowls are so good. They also serve smoothies which I haven't had the pleasure to taste yet but I expect the same kind of quality. I am very partial to the Bruin Bowl and the Dragonfruit Bowl.

7. BJs

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They have $3 Pizookies on Tuesday.

I am always there on Tuesday.

Are these two facts connected? Maybe.

What can I say? I just love the restaurants here.

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