The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'd started this thinking it'd be a variant on the Stranger in a Strange Land but it's definitely not. Instead, this is a human-meets-aliens story, with meditations on what makes us human, what life is worth, and what faith means. Christianity is the "hook" (the title refers to what the Oasans' call the Bible), and Peter (yes, yes, a Very Symbolic Name) is the messenger. His decisions to live among the natives and to translate the Bible into words they can actually say and concepts they can understand are a variation of going native; the results are a little surprising. It was also surprising how quickly he forgot what his wife looked like, even while yearning to be with her as the Earth dissolves into chaos (tsunamis, food shortages, etc.).
One of the interesting things is the depiction of the Oasans: their faces, if you can even call it a face, is virtually indescribable, while their bodies may not even have a skeleton. Their speech is unreproducable by human vocal cords. So for readers used to the Star Trek humanoids with the universal translator, this will be a very different experience.
ARC provided by publisher.