NoveList calls The Book of Strange New Things “leisurely paced and lush.”
A husband and wife face huge challenges in this speculative novel. Hired by USIC, Peter is a Christian missionary who offers to bring the Christian faith to the planet’s inhabitants. Their former pastor, Kurzberg, has mysteriously gone missing.
While most of the company employees live at the company’s climate-controlled base, Peter chooses to live amongst the aliens in their rustic settlement in extreme humidity. He returns to the company base every few weeks to communicate with his wife via a primitive communication system called “The Shoot.”
His interactions with the aliens are rewarding and he gains a new sense of religious purpose. The reports from Earth however become grow more and more dispiriting. Peter learns that his wife is pregnant. The weather on Earth is growing chaotic and the world’s economies are failing.
Though warmly welcomed by the Oasans, Peter soon runs into trouble in the settlement and plantations. Bird-like predators attack the Oasans harvest of whiteflower, an important source of food.
Unlike a thriller, revelations develop slowly in this well-thought out philosophical novel. Peter slowly deduces the USIC’s more nefarious purpose. The Oasans are being tricked into handing over their food supplies in exchange for medicines that cannot really help them.
As time goes on, Bea writes less and less. The growing psychological gulf between Peter and Bea tests his faith.
This is an intriguing, slow burn of a novel that asks important questions and, as such, is a perfect catalyst for debate.