Book Review: Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

We all just want to be people, and none of us know what that really means

I have never read anything by this famous Science-Fiction author. I have heard so much about him and now it was time to read something by it. It was interesting, but not what I expected.

Book Review: Borne by Jeff VanderMeer


Title & Author: Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
Genre: Dystopia, Adventure
Release date: April 25 2017
Series: Borne
Publisher: MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux


In a ruined, nameless city of the future, a woman named Rachel, who makes her living as a scavenger, finds a creature she names “Borne” entangled in the fur of Mord, a gigantic, despotic bear. Mord once prowled the corridors of the biotech organization known as the Company, which lies at the outskirts of the city, until he was experimented on, grew large, learned to fly and broke free. Driven insane by his torture at the Company, Mord terrorizes the city even as he provides sustenance for scavengers like Rachel.

At first, Borne looks like nothing at all—just a green lump that might be a Company discard. The Company, although severely damaged, is rumoured to still make creatures and send them to distant places that have not yet suffered Collapse.

Borne somehow reminds Rachel of the island nation of her birth, now long lost to rising seas. She feels an attachment she resents; attachments are traps, and in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet when she takes Borne to her subterranean sanctuary, the Balcony Cliffs, Rachel convinces her lover, Wick, not to render Borne down to raw genetic material for the drugs he sells—she cannot break that bond.

Wick is a special kind of supplier, because the drug dealers in the city don’t sell the usual things. They sell tiny creatures that can be swallowed or stuck in the ear, and that release powerful memories of other people’s happier times or pull out forgotten memories from the user’s own mind—or just produce beautiful visions that provide escape from the barren, craterous landscapes of the city.

Against his better judgment, out of affection for Rachel or perhaps some other impulse, Wick respects her decision. Rachel, meanwhile, despite her loyalty to Wick, knows he has kept secrets from her. Searching his apartment, she finds a burnt, unreadable journal titled “Mord,” a cryptic reference to the Magician (a rival drug dealer) and evidence that Wick has planned the layout of the Balcony Cliffs to match the blueprint of the Company building. What is he hiding? Why won’t he tell her about what happened when he worked for the Company?

I give Borne by Jeff VanderMeer four out of five hearts because it was a very strange tale.

Jeff VanderMeer has a very interesting way of writing and world building. Even though I wasn’t interested in the main character, Rachel, I wanted to know who or what Borne was. It kept me hooked up until the last few chapters. Jeff is a great author, with good descriptions and still keeping the world engaging and interesting.

The author needs to have all these qualities because otherwise Borne would not have worked out. Borne itself is visually hard to pin down and changes into all kinds of shapes and writing that is hard. It was done lovingly and without too many words. Borne is and stays a story element and is cleverly done.

The world building is great, a full world without anything missing. But he lost me at some point in who the actual antagonist was of the story. I still don’t understand it really, but Borne’s story itself was good enough.

Overall I liked Jeff’s writing and I am curious if Annihilation is just as interesting and maybe a little bit clearer in who full filled which role.

Let me know what you thought of this book!
If you have any requests for which book I should talk about next, please let me know in the comments down below.

For now, let books enrich your life!


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