Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

borneminicoverTitle: Borne
Series
: No
Author(s): Jeff Vandermeer
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardcover
Original Release Date: April 25th 2017
Pages: 336
Genre(s): Science-Fiction
ISBN13: 9781443449120


Widely-known for his Southern Reach trilogy (including Annihilation, Authority and Acceptance), Jeff Vandermeer is an author that I have been meaning to check out for quite some time and Borne has ended up being my entry point to what is surely to be an author that I just can’t neglect anymore.

Jeff Vandermeer’s latest novel is nothing like I have ever read before. It is a self-contained piece of literature that envelops your brain and stimulates your imagination in the most stunning way. Set in a nameless city, Rachel is a scavenger who lives in a subterranean sanctuary called the Balcony Cliffs with her partner Wick, a drug dealer who sells tiny creatures that can be put in the ear or swallowed in order to live memories of happier days.

One day, Rachel stumbles upon a creature that looks like a cross between a sea anemone and a squid. It is the moment that she makes the decision of bringing it to her hideout and to call it Borne that her life had forever changed within this post-apocalyptic universe where hope seemed like a bleak and impossible promise. With biotech creatures roaming the streets freely, there is nothing too far-fetched to exist within this world and making Borne a stunning and mythical adventure.

Alongside a giant flying bear called Mord floating around and being seen almost like a God to many and a Magician who conquers territories and uses tricks that are yet to be understood, Borne is however the highlight of this novel and whose existence will be seared into your memories forever. In fact, Borne is a special creature who reminds me of a shape-shifting liquid metal. To be honest, I even saw it as some kind of mimetic polyalloy; think Terminator. The difference however lies in his innocent and cute air as he learns about the Balcony Cliffs and the “not good” world in which it lives.

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One of the best thing about this stand-alone story is Borne. This blob creature and its neon colours always puts up a show whenever he is graces the pages of this book. Its quirkiness stands out like a sore thumb and enlightens the atmosphere like no other character has ever done before. When he is first introduced, it is quickly treated like a plant. Taken care of its basic needs only for Rachel to learn over time that it isn’t anything as simple as a plant, her relationship to Borne quickly evolves into a mother-child bond offering us an exhaustive look at the motherhood cycle that every mother goes through with their child.

Besides this beautiful and accelerated look at growth and everything that defines maternal love, Borne is also a novel that dives deep into the concept of humanity. Throughout the story there is a whole discussion of what it is to be human and where humans are placed in the hierarchy of all living thing. It is in fact that food chain that is brilliantly examined and questioned throughout the story, and it is thanks to Jeff Vandermeer’s impeccable world-building that everything was explored and presented to us with finesse and life.

The world-building is honestly where this novel excels in. Atmospheric to the point of almost feeling suffocated by the lifeless world in which they live, Borne is a story that does wonders in vividly describing its universe. The pace could easily be seen as something slow, almost like walking through thigh-high thick mud, but in my case it simply contributed to the world-building. Add in the backstory that Rachel reminesces about here and then, Jeff Vandermeer simply proves us why he should be known as a master story-teller.

Filled with bio-engineered organisms, Borne is a pool of surprises that explores its themes with depth and conviction. I might have not read the Southern Reach trilogy yet, but I will not neglect anything Jeff Vandermeer writes anymore. I just need to get my hands on a copy now.

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Thank you to HarperCollins for sending me a copy for review!


You can order your own copy now!

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Amazon (USA) – Amazon (Canada)Chapters IndigoBook Depository

MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★★

Have you read it yet? Do you plan to? What do you think about Borne?

Share your thoughts with me!

Till next time,

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51 thoughts on “Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

  1. Tammy says:

    Yay, so glad you loved this! I also gave this 5 stars, one of my favorite books last year. You should definitely read Annihilation now, it’s wonderful as well, maybe a little more sad and scary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Your review really did give me that extra boost into reading this much earlier too! I’m so glad I did. 😀 Oh man, I really need to. Especially with that movie adaptation (although I’m not a big Natalie Portman fan), I need to check out the trilogy or at least the first book! And by the sound of it, more sad and scary will probably make it another fantastic series! 😛

      Like

  2. raistlin0903 says:

    Okay I am going to give up any hopes that I am going to read a review from you for a book that I won’t be adding to my to read list lol 😂😂
    This sounds awesome. Even by only reading your post, my mind is already making up pictures and images, which really is a good thing. The worldbuilding, the story itself, and the characters you are describing here all really sound amazing to me. Great post. And thanks for sharing this 😀😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahahah Often the books I end up giving 5 stars are books I’d end up recommending to almost everyone too. They are just irresistible and I want to make sure that it seems that way too 😛 Hope you do enjoy it as much as I did when you get the chance to read it, Michel! Thanks for your kind words and I always appreciate your thoughts on these man.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Yep. I remember asking you if had ever read anything by him. I’d be curious to see what you’d think of it with your more… experienced self hahah I definitely plan on reading the trilogy when I get my hands on a copy (there’s even a collected edition of all three called Area X if you ever wanted to find a copy of that series). And with the movie adaptation of the first book in that series coming out soon, I think it would be a nice time to catch up on that series for me and anyone else who is curious about Vandermeer’s writing.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      I’m not sure which one I discovered first myself, but because Borne isn’t exactly a series and it sounded so fascinating, I just had to read it! And yes! The movie definitely makes me want to read the trilogy (or at least the first book) as soon as possible! I’m glad that I did the extra push needed to get Borne on that wishlist though. Hope you enjoy it when you get the chance to read it, Nicole! Thank you sooo much!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Zezee says:

    I’m only familiar with Vandermeer through his book on writing, so I’d like to try one of his novels. I’m especially interested in this one, so I’m glad you thought it was good. That discussion on what it is to be human would really interest me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      I’ve read somewhere that he had non-fiction books that he was known for. Nice to hear from you about them! Borne is definitely worth checking out and I’m sure the author has plenty to say on how to write cause he sure knows how to build the world in this story! 😀

      Like

  4. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    This sounds like a brilliant book Lashaan, I’m really glad to see you enjoyed it considering you probably had high expectations for Jeff Vandermeer’s work (I’m assuming based on what you’ve said in the beginning of this review at least! :D). The cover for this one already had me curious, but then I read how the world building was the best thing about this book for you and now I feel like I may have to add this one to my to-read list. If there’s one thing I’m weak for it’s books with incredible world building. 🙂
    Great review, and I hope you enjoy the next book by Jeff Vandermeer you end up picking up! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      I still have high expectations for this trilogy now hahah I definitely can’t wait to try it out and see how it is. Especially with a movie adaptation in the works for Annihilation. I’m glad to hear your interest in Borne though. It is such a unique story. A nice breath of fresh air. 😀 Thank you so much for reading, Beth. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    SO I keep finding myself drawn to this one (mainly because of that cover ❤ ) but this is the first review I have encountered. It literally just went into my Amazon cart Lashaan! Dang you.. ugh. Now to see if I can work it into my current reading challenge 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lostartofreadingblog says:

    I have seen this cover around but hadn’t looked into it at all yet as too plot. This sounds really good, by coincidence I just bought his book Annihilation last week. It’s nice and short so I hope to get to it sooner than later… I have never said that about a book I own….Haha. Great review I think this may have just pushed his other book higher up on my list to read. If I like the one I own I will definitely give this one a read too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. todaysechoes says:

    Amazing review!
    I think you just convinced me to read this. I read Annihilation and loved it, but really disliked the second book Authority so when this came out I kind of ignored it. Thanks for putting it back on my radar!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahah I also had a feeling you’d drop by for this one in particular hahah It is definitely some of the weirdest and most awesomest (I invented that word) stuff. Definitely good-weird though. And that cover is the cherry on top of this cake. So pretty!!

      Like

  8. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    Ok, first of all, the cover for this book. What is that? Just how… My brain is confused xD And yet it makes total sense for the story it’s trying to encapsulate: it’s equal amounts weird and fascinating and I can’t stop looking at it even though I can’t quite process what I’m seeing? Which is exactly how that synopsis made me feel too!
    Those first few paragraphs had me glued to the screen. I instantly wanted to know what the heck was going on, what Borne was, what was his significance and relationship with Rachel, EVERYTHING. It just sounds so unique and intriguing, I can clearly see why it would capture your interest and make you love it so much.
    I will definitely keep it in mind for later. Wonderful review, Lashaan! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Bahahah it is one of the most amazing covers out there. It had me asking a gazillion questions too when I first saw it. I’ve come to see it as one of Borne’s various forms, but man could it take so many wild forms in this story though. You’ll just have to read it to understand why he always makes your imagination work hard whenever it’s mentioned. I’m glad to hear how much it caught your interest though! Hopefully you’ll have the chance to try it out for yourself someday in the future! Thanks for reading, Sophie! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Karina Pinella says:

        I love science fiction. I read lots of books by Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Asimov, Orson Card when I was in grade school and high school. Just a baby then. And then there was a period when I didn’t read any fiction books at all. Just college and graduate degree related reading stuff and magazines and newspapers. Then after school stuff and years into working, I got into reading fiction again and just happened to have picked up an action or thriller books and just got caught up in the genre because I found so many good books and writers. There were occasional “literary” books and others not really easy to classify and an occasional science fiction, but I just haven’t caught on to reading as many science fiction books . . . yet. In time . . .

        Like

  9. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    I love creatures in books and I have to say that Borne is why I would read… though heavy language will kill it… Of course I don’t anticipate that happening because you loved it so!! And I don’t mind trippy. I’m reading this one book where everything the author said was presented as a mini mystery! It’s so fascinating… you never really know if you’ll love it until you try it! And I love that this is standalone. I need more standalones in my life 😉 Great review, I could feel how much you enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Trippy is right. It’s the weirdly amazing type of dystopian world. And I agree!!! This is one book that would fall into that category of books that you never really if you’ll love it until you try it. Of course, those who are already mesmerized by the cover and the blurb alone might also fall for this too. I swear… Great stand-alones are very needed! I need to have some of those interspersed in my reading or else it’ll just be a very messy series after series reading habit hahah Thank you so much for reading Dani and I’d be really curious to hear what you’d think of Borne when you get the chance to try it out yourself! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    I’m so glad you found such passion for Bourne! I recently read Annihilation, and well, let’s just say it wasn’t for me. I will be keeping an eye out for your future reviews of VanderMeer’s works to see if I think I should keep reading them myself. I know that we share similar tastes in writing style, but there was something about how atmospheric VanderMeer’s work was where I couldn’t connect at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Oh no! I’ve heard from some that the 2nd book might have been pretty bad but to hear that the first one didn’t click with you? That is really unfortunate. Also pretty interesting to hear how it is the whole atmospheric aspect of it that didn’t work for you! In Borne, the fact that it was so atmospheric was almost half the fun. The other half being Borne himself and how fascinating he was. I’ll definitely give Annihilation a shot though. Maybe before the movie adaptation of it comes out too. Thanks for reading, Jackie. Love hearing from you! ❤

      Like

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