This is a must read. It is one of the best novels about empathy I have ever read and also one of the best about industrial society as well as our relation to nature. I think it is actually THE best fiction in support of vegetarianism I have ever read, a bit surprising as Faber is not a vegetarian himself.
To get all the above was not something I expected from a science fiction novel I read as it was made into a movie. If you have seen the movie, with Scarlett Johansson, please forget that and read the book. If you have read the book, do not expect anything good from the book in the movie. While the movie has some good parts it feels most like a bad excuse to show Scarlet naked and explore some hidden camera work. Basically everything that made the book relevant and interesting is removed from the movie. The movie is not bad, it just have nothing to do with the book.
I was a bit disappointed in how the book ended, as it felt a little out of place. Instead of a small bang it should have ended with a long whimper. Fading out is how too many people live their lives and I think it would have been the perfect ending for the book.
Still, everything from how the characters look at nature to the way they exist in a system where they make their own personal suffering more important than the enormous suffering they are an active part of is fantastic. I often feel that people say things like “to capture the large in the small” as an excuse for not looking at the big picture, but here the details became not only a magnifying glass, but also a mirror. Judging from reviews I read, maybe it was too much of a magnifying glass/mirror for most? That the film (that I have to admit I feel very frustrated about) could drop all structural aspects and turn it into a small personal drama probably tells us more about our time than I want to admit.