By: Jeff Vandermeer
A giant flying and deadly bear called Mord. Rampaging biotech left over from the company that brought it all about. Radioactive rain and rivers. Half-buried astronauts. A magician… and it all gets somehow weirder when a scavenger called Rachel finds a strange creature living in Mord’s fur. She gathers him up. She takes him home.
And welcome to a newer creeper motherhood.
And also what it means to be a person. To be real. To be afraid. To be learning. To be out of control.
Neither Rachel or her partner really know what Borne is or what he’s capable of doing though he quickly begins to grow, and talk, and learn and mimic. Rachel becomes attached to him in a motherly fashion throughout the story trying to educate him and keep him safe amidst the horrors of the world they live in.
Borne is smart to. He picks things up quickly and he’s almost cute when he’s asking all his questions finding it hard to grasp the bigger picture because grasping the bigger picture is impossible for Rachel as it has been for humans for years. Meanwhile out in the city the Magician fights giant flying bear Mord to take back control before all is lost. (Of course the Magician isn’t that great herself.)
Vandermeer wrote the Southern Reach Trilogy a couple of years ago and I’m super excited for Annihilation to be released this weekend so I wanted to pick up Borne. First of all this is a lot easier to get into than that one though it also starts out pretty slowly. Rachel doesn’t have any of the answers either but I think people who were upset about certain elements of the Southern Reach books will be happier with this one.
I was fascinated by the motherhood aspect of it- Rachel thinks it herself many times. Borne is like a child to her. Like her child. For me I would have been out the door the minute he started talking and consuming things- but that’s just me. Maternal I am not. Still it plays on some really interesting notes about love and survival. Like a child Borne wants to understand but as he grows and consumes (and can’t stop himself) he gets hung up on the bigger questions we all do. And he can’t quiet accept the darker versions of himself either. He teaches Rachel to- for good and for bad- and she won’t ever be the same.
I appreciated that we get more information about the biotech and the company and the world around it in Borne. Though I have to admit I was a bit warring with myself on that one. I liked the way it was done. This creepy underlying element. How the end of the world would come about in only pieces of information for most people but I also wanted to know more.
While Borne grows everything in the city ratchets up to a final confrontation between all warring factions. Despite my being utterly weirded out by him even Borne grew on me by the end of the book so that I had sympathy for a character that I would have, and probably should have, run away from anyway.
Recommend: Yes. Though Vandermeer’s books may not be for everyone this is a good one on it’s own and if you’ve been wanting to give him a read.