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Veniss Underground

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  1,528 Ratings  ·  129 Reviews
In his debut novel, literary alchemist Jeff VanderMeer takes us on an unforgettable journey, a triumph of the imagination that reveals the magical and mysterious city of Veniss through three intertwined voices. First, Nicholas, a would-be Living Artist, seeks to escape his demons in the shadowy underground–but in doing so makes a deal with the devil himself. In her fevered ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published September 27th 2005 by Spectra (first published 2003)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dan Schwent
Jul 31, 2013 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it
Shelves: new-weird, 2010
Artist Nicholas goes to the sinister Quin to buy a meerkat and winds up missing. His twin sister Nicola combs the city of Veniss looking for him and also disappears and it's up to Shadrach, Nicholas' friend and Nicola's former lover, to find them. Can Shadrach find them before Quin finds him?

Veniss Underground is the first of Jeff Vandermeer's new weird works. While it's not as pants-shittingly awesome as some of his later works, it's still really good.

Veniss takes place in a dystopian future. A
Ian "Marvin" Graye
Plane of Existence

This futuristic, metaphysical tale reminded me a lot of Angela Carter's novels.

It's told in three sections, each of which offers a different, but cumulative, perspective. Together, they work like a multi-faceted jewel.

The first is narrated by holographic artist Nicholas in the first person.

The second, about his twin sister, Nicola, is told in the second person.

The third, which focusses on Nicola’s former lover, Shadrach, is in the third person.

It’s set in the dystopian city of
4.0 to 4.5 stars. Jeff Vandermeer has an amazing imagination and the writing chops to put it down on paper in a way that draws the reader inside his very unusual world where they can truly look around and feel a part of it (which can be a bit unnerving given that he writes about some very dark places). While the entire book is very good, I thought the last section was the best. It details one of the character's decent into the title locale (i.e., Veniss Underground) which is about the most unsua ...more
Althea Ann
Nov 04, 2014 Althea Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vandermeer has published many more short stories than novels, and his preference for the short format shows – Veniss is a very short novel (in my edition bundled with an unrelated (?) ‘novella’ (I’d still call it a short story) to fill out the book.
Its length is my biggest complaint with the work. Vandermeer shows the reader an immensely complex, vivid setting – but in around 200 pages, there isn’t time to explore it in the depth one might like to – and the plot itself is very slight.
Veniss is
Keith Deininger
May 21, 2015 Keith Deininger rated it really liked it
A fast-moving, grotesque parade. Jeff VanderMeer has an excellent imagination, and that is something I always appreciate. Veniss Underground has some structural issues, pieced together sections with disparate viewpoints (including some jarring 2nd person), and some common issues among first novels, but ones I was able to overlook. It's broken into three sections, the first that I believe was originally published as a stand-alone story, and it gets better as it progresses. Worth a read.
Dec 11, 2010 Brainycat rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: I don't know who would like this prose
I picked up this book on a recommendation as a book that features it's urban setting as an integral character in the story. When I looked at the synopsis, I was glad to see it's a Far Dark Future-y cyberpunky sort of story. It's not like all the other cyberpunk books I've read; the prose is some weird amalgam of stream-of-conscious meets futurewords-without-enough-context. It read like some Important Modern Literature I've seen (and subsequently loathed). I believe our main character, or at leas ...more
Feb 25, 2016 Bogdan rated it it was amazing
Cartea este structurata in doua parti distincte.

In prima faza avem povestirea Veniss Underground cu trei capitole in care sunt urmarite motivatiile si actiunile personajelor principale, Nicholas, Nicola si Shadrach si o a doua parte in care sunt prezentate o alta serie de mici povestiri ce se pot citi si separat, insa continua, pe o anumita linie, si completeaza evolutia lumii si a entitatilor, legate de oras.

Veniss Underground (cu trimitere evidenta la Venetia) este un oras halucinant cu carti
Tamara Romero
Apr 10, 2009 Tamara Romero rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird-oriented
All was flesh and weirdness in Veniss Underground. Unexpected goresque sections for me, mixed up with some brilliant and hilarious humor spots. Reading this stuff makes me wonder what's in Vandermeer's head. The best was the brilliant structure into three parts (being my favourite the whole chapters into Nicola's place). It does not get 5 stars though, because of this strong feeling I had, of imprecision, around the whole story. The constant trip of the protagonist did not let me get more detail ...more
Nancy Oakes
Jan 21, 2009 Nancy Oakes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that you can't put down once you start it. You get sucked in immediately and as things unfold throughout the book, you can't stop reading. I would recommend it for readers who like sci-fi & don't mind some graphic (ick) scenes. And I also recommend it for anyone looking for a new reading experience.

Brief (and I mean brief) plot summary

Set very much in the future, the story is set in the city of Veniss, which used to be known as Dayton Central, until the government
neko cam
Nov 21, 2010 neko cam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: new-weird, romance
Having read (and loved) 'City of Saints and Madmen', I had a fair idea what flavor of weirdness I was getting myself into with 'Veniss Underground'. For instance, the three portions of the book are delivered in the first, second, and third person perspectives respectively. An interesting idea, but unfortunately not interesting enough to make up for how annoying it is to read anything written in the second person perspective.

If there's one thing Vandermeer knows, it's creating locales that are st
Jul 18, 2009 c rated it really liked it
A short, dense novel, Veniss Underground is perhaps the defining work of the New Weird. Urban and decaying, dark and grotesque, it is heavy with mythic and literary echoes. The plot pushes characters into hopeless situations and surrounds them with terrifying strangeness, and the plot's turns and denouement subvert typical narrative expectations. In Veniss Underground, Weird is not the exception, but the rule: it surrounds, encroaches, violates, and blossoms.

The city of Veniss rots under the wei
Jul 25, 2008 John rated it liked it
Veniss Underground tries very hard to be an atmospheric weird sci-fi thriller, and about two thirds of the way through it starts to succeed quite magnificently. The novel has a very clever (maybe too clever) structure: part 1 is a first person narrative of a guy who goes missing (though short it contains some of the best writing of the book); part 2 is a second person narrative of his sister who discovers he is missing and goes looking for him; and part 3 is a third person narrative account of a ...more
Mar 29, 2011 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-the-best
You can almost see the emotion this book was written with permeating from it. VanderMeer is quickly, and surprisingly, becoming one of my favorite authors- now risen to the same level as Mieville imo. This book is going straight to my 'best of the best' shelf.
Christy Stewart
This is now one of my favorite books and because of that I can't review it well enough.

If you've ever trusted my judgment of books you should at least read the description.
Nov 04, 2012 Klytia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Let me tell you why I wished to buy a meerkat at Quin's Shanghai Circus. Let me tell you about the city: The city is sharp, the city is a cliché performed with cardboard and painted sparkly colors to disguise the empty center—the hole.”

Il mito di Orfeo ed Euridice ambientato in un futuro lontanissimo.
L’umanità vive in città stato fortificate e isolate l’una dalle altre, i bambini figli dell’ingegneria genetica vengono estratti da uteri artificiali e il talento degli Artisti Viventi crea nuove
Coming straight out of Blood Meridian, I maybe should have gone with a lighter read. Mind you, I didn't really realize how heavy Veniss Underground would ultimately end up being. The section of the novel following Shadrach (still wondering how the biblical connotation of this name figures into the theme of the book) was so dark and grueling. The stand out imagery for me was his visit to the donation clinic when he finds Nicola buried in a pile of legs. Thankfully those moments were offset by the ...more
Jun 12, 2015 Tasula rated it liked it
Veniss is VanderMeer's first novel. It reminded me a bit of Annihilation, but was less structured, and not in this world. It also had some of the otherworldly detail which fills Mieville's work. There are 3 protagonists, each of who narrate one of 3 consecutive parts: Nicholas, twin sister Nicola, friend/lover Shadrach. The entire book is populated with unreal creatures and locations, many gruesome or repulsive. Nicholas' part had a poetic feel- he is a Living Artist (creates art from living cre ...more
Apr 27, 2015 Kerszi rated it it was amazing
Pierwszą twórczością Jeffa VanderMeera którą przeczytałem był cały cykl "Ambergris". Bardzo mi się podobał ten świat, później sięgnąłem po twórczość z 2014 roku "Southern Reach", która kompletnie mnie zniechęciła do tego autora. Czytając jego biografię zobaczyłem, że napisał wcześniej książkę "Podziemia Veniss". Myślę sobie, stare to, starsze od Ambergris i "Southern Reach" więc za dobre nie może być. Jednak było!!! Przebiło Southern Reach o 10 razy!! Ambergris nie, ale i tak super. A o czym jes ...more
Jul 01, 2016 Drew rated it really liked it
4.5 out of 5. The wobbliness of the beginning of the novel is forgiven by the end, especially once it’s revealed that the wobbliness was purposeful – and there were moments where I could see the authorial voice that I now know so strongly in a still-nacent form, rough around the edges – but all in all, Veniss shows that Jeff was as talented and inventive at the beginning of his career as a novelist as he is now. We’re lucky to have a mind so fertile creating such worlds for us – and any & al ...more
"Okay," not great - more aesthetic concept than narrative.

Dystopian novel about a guy who genetically modifies people and animals into entirely new organic creations, and a few characters connected to him. It comes across as more of a writer's exercise in worldbuilding than a novel in the classic sense, as there wasn't a lot of plot or depth of character to it, but it was interesting all the same to watch the unfolding of VanderMeer's crafted universe. It feels very much like the building block
Durante más de la mitad de la novela estuve deslumbrado ante el escenario tan imaginativo que propone el autor. Incluso llegué a pensar que estaba ante la mejor novela cyberpunk que había leído. Pero llegó un momento (no se en que punto exactamente) en el que comencé a sentir que la trama y la tensión no estaban a la altura del decorado.
Para mí es de agradecer que una novela no se alargue más de lo necesario (250 páginas pueden dar para mucho), pero aquí eché en falta un desenlace más trabajado
Jan 14, 2009 Zach rated it it was ok
There is one absolutely amazing scene near the beginning of this book where the narrator can sense these THINGS moving in behind him right before he is kidnapped for good. That section, which is both beautiful and suffused with a kind of haunting dread, anticipates Vandermeer's far-superior work in Ambergris.

The rest of the book didn't make much of an impression on me, though.
Aug 11, 2010 Melanie rated it it was amazing
This is VanderMeer's first novel. That is amazing. The imagination displayed in this book is beyond anything I've read anywhere else...except maybe the other VanderMeer novels. And the style is incredible too. If you like weird stories set in weird locations that challenge your mind to comprehend, this is an absolutely great book. If you're stuck in the real world, you will hate this.
Oct 28, 2007 Rick rated it it was amazing
Veniss Underground is full of the weirdness, sense of wonder, world building, and just general quality that I have come to expect from a Vandermeer book. Comparable to the stories of Cordwainer Smith and Jack Vance, this far future novel about a Living Artist and the quest for his missing twin sister is an adventure that only Jeff Vandermeer could conceive.
Eric Orchard
Dec 01, 2009 Eric Orchard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Without a doubt one of the very best science fiction novels I have ever read.Dark and disturbing yet always beautiful and compelling, this is like a genre retelling of Dante, especially. I recommend this book to anyone, genre reader or not.
Scott Brennan
Jul 04, 2014 Scott Brennan rated it really liked it
Equal parts brilliant, disturbing and very strange.
Mar 18, 2015 NessunDorma rated it it was amazing
Smells like "Do androids dream of electric sheep?" in the beginning.
Dec 26, 2016 Spracherwerb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Think of the never-ending, de-humanized, strangely altered labyrinth world in Tsutomu Nihei's Blame. Think about body horror in a dark biopunk/cyberpunk universe that could have easily been created during the 80ies. Think about a very, very twisted and unusal retelling of Dante's Inferno.
The more I came closer to the ending, the more I felt like I was wading through a futuristic painting by Hieronymus Bosch.

I did not enjoy the first part of VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy, but this book was
Mar 07, 2013 A rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
F.J. Sanz
Dec 14, 2016 F.J. Sanz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enrevesada. Intrincada. Retorcida.
Una grata sorpresa descubrir a este escritor, ávido ya de conocer más de su obra.
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Jeff VanderMeer's new novel is Borne, set for publication in late April of 2017. His most recent fiction is the NYT-bestselling Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance), all released in 2014. The series won the Shirley Jackson Award and the Nebula Award, was shortlisted for several others, and has been acquired by publishers in 32 other countries. Paramount Pictures/Scott R ...more
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“He stumbled, almost fell, and decided to sit down, with his back against the tunnel wall, his feet resting against the opposite wall. Roaring out of the morass of pity, terror, happiness, joy, sadness, elation that he had inherited - shooting forth from this void, the single sharp thought: She does not love me. It was almost more than he could take. But he was not the kind of person to fold, to crack, to be broken, and so instead, in those moments after the realization, he bent - and bent, and kept on bending beneath the pressure of this new and terrible knowledge. Soon he would bend into a totally new shape altogether. He welcomed that. He wanted that. Maybe the new thing he would become would no longer hurt, would no longer fear, would no longer look back down into the void and wonder what was left of him.

She did not love him. It made him laugh as he sat there -- great belly laughs that doubled him over in the dust, where he lay for a long moment, recovering. It was funny beyond bearing. He had fought through a dozen terrors all for love of her. And she did not love him. He felt like a character in a holovid - the jester, the clown, the fool.”
“Let me tell you what happens when you burn a person's body, pull out all of his teeth, glue his head to a plate, and shove a bomb in his ear. You become that person's object of undying hatred.” 3 likes
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