My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A scavenger, a squidlike biotech lifeform, and a flying bear walk into a bar…
Borne is exceptionally subtle on a prose level. I kept having to catch myself and re-read sentences because there was SO MUCH going on in deceptively simply constructed descriptions and dialogue.
The novel is from the POV of Rachel, a scavenger in a post-disaster/apocalypse/biotech Major Problem world caused at some point by The Company, and Borne, her name for an innocuous looking sentient cross between a squid and an eggplant with a penchant for wordplay that she originally scavenged off of a flying bear named Mord, who is fighting a turf war with The Magician for dominion over the destroyed city where Rachel scavenges.
Rachel initially sees Borne as a project, or a childlike creature to raise. This is a problematic assessment.
Borne examines what makes us human, and what does not. Who draws the line? Who makes the choices, the most important of which is: Nice, or Not Nice.
I won’t say whether I think Borne himself as a character is Nice, or Not Nice. I will say, though, that this is definitely a Nice novel.