How much is your time worth?
It’s all subjective, of course; that is to say, no individual person’s time should be worth any more than another’s. You could work it out in lots of different ways – how much of an impression could I have made on, or value could I have added to, a fellow human being’s day or existence during the time it has taken me to read this book? How far could I have run, in the time it’s taken me? How much money would I have made had I spent the time reading this book at work?
Well, whatever that figure of £$€ is, that’s how much I’m going to be writing a letter to Michel Faber to reimburse me for.
The Book of Strange New Things has so, so much potential. It has a sci-fi-meets-humanitarian-meets-religious storyline, the latter of which I usually struggle with (Atheist and stubborn with it), but the former two which I usually enjoy. So upon reading the blurb (and, not going to lie, seeing the beautiful shiny cover), I was super excited.
Little did I know, oh, little did I know I was about to engage in the longest, slowest slog of my life.
I read really, really fast – it’s a bit of a party trick actually. I’m able to read things fully – not skim reading – and extremely quickly whilst actually retaining the information, specific words, the way things are arranged on a page. Every avid reader out there knows the feeling of starting a book, it turning out to be crap, but being unable to just stop half-way through – just in case it gets better. You have to finish a book once you’ve started it… Even with my super fast reading, this was so, so difficult to finish.
It starts off slow and ends with… I can’t even call it an anti-climax, because ultimately, nothing happens. Nothing. The book is essentially telling the tale of a dude who goes to another planet to integrate with the locals (“Oasans” in this case), is accepted into their fold really fast, comes up against no problems other than his bitchy wife moaning at him via email from back on Earth, and basically achieves everything he sets out to, all whilst quoting profusely from the bible, of course… Michel drops hints throughout the beginning and mid-sections of the book which allude to a slow start which will finish with a BANG, but falls short unfortunately. Not a single chapter in the book ends with so much as a pop, let alone a bang.
Sorry Michel. The Book of Strange New Things excited me from the blurb, lost me after the first third, and disappointed me at the end. For creativity? Full marks, of course – the creation of a whole new language for the locals on the planet us humans have colonized is incredible. The story line itself even – God-fearing pastor meets space shuttles, new technology and inter-universal space travel? What beautiful contradictions – I love it. But unfortunately, Michel’s writing is repetitive, tedious and unexciting, throughout.
I judge what my time is worth based on money, because I love it and it makes the world go round and I can buy new books with it and go new places and tick things off of my bucket list and buy my boyfriend and I plane tickets and blablabla…
You, sir, owe me money.