Book review: Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer

BorneBorne by Jeff VanderMeer

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.

View all my reviews

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About Lynne M. Thomas

Lynne M. Thomas is a five time Hugo Award winning editor and podcaster. In her day job, she is Head of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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