On reading: Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

Time to read:

2 minutes

BorneTitle: Borne

Author: Jeff VanderMeer

From the back: “Am I a person?” Borne asks Rachel, in extremis.

“Yes, you are a person,” Rachel tells him. “But like a person, you can be a weapon, too.”

A ruined city of the future lives in fear of a despotic, gigantic flying bear, driven mad by the tortures inflicted on him by the Company, a mysterious biotech firm. A scavenger, Rachel, finds a creature entangled in his fur. She names it Borne.

At first, Borne looks like nothing at all― a green lump that might be a discard from the Company. But he reminds Rachel of her homeland, an island nation long lost to rising seas, and she prevents her lover, Wick, from rendering down Borne as raw genetic material for the special kind of drugs he sells.

But nothing is quite the way it seems: not the past, not the present, not the future. If Wick is hiding secrets, so is Rachel―and Borne most of all. What Rachel finds hidden deep within the Company will change everything and everyone. There, lost and forgotten things have lingered and grown. What they have grown into is mighty indeed.

The gist: VanderMeer is not just an author with the coolest name around, but he also writes the most beautiful words. Reading his books is like daydreaming in HDR. This is my second foray into his work (after reading Annihilation, also excellent, and soon to become a film apparently), and it didn’t disappoint. His depiction of Borne the green lump who becomes something so much bigger, is stunning. Borne is a child – a powerful, different child, one that holds the ability to change the world – and for me, his experience is the most profound in the book. Seeing the world through his responses qualifies the hardships and traumas of the main characters. It adds a perspective so little seen in such dark settings. It reminds me of Atwood’s Oryx and Crake series. It’s beautiful, horrendous, and ultimately one of the happiest books I’ve read in a long time. To be fair, I might have a warped view of happiness, but read it for yourself and we’ll see.

Favourite line: “I mourned the child I had known who was kind and sweet and curious, and yet could not stop killing.”

Read if: You want a beautifully rendered vision of a harsh future reality, a biotech apocalypse, laced with hope.

Read with: Your child, your pet, or your Tamagotchi. Whichever you have to hand. And treat them well.

Get it: Borne by Jeff VanderMeer

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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