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3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  433 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
From the author of the critically acclaimed Troll, the new novel from Johanna Sinisalo is full of her trademark style, surreal invention, and savage humor
Set in Australasia,this is the story of a young Finnish couple who have embarked on the hiking trip of a lifetime, with Heart of Darkness as their only reading matter. Conrad’s dark odyssey turns out to be a prescien
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by Peter Owen Publishers (first published 2008)
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83rd out of 201 books — 27 voters
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Translated Speculative Fiction
186th out of 229 books — 110 voters

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Community Reviews

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Nov 29, 2012 Hannamari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another great novel from Sinisalo. In this story she has the two protagonists wandering the isolated Tasmanian trekking tracks in nature's terms. The text consists of interesting little bits: insides from both of the protagonists minds as well as one of their disturbed good-for-nothing little brother's thoughts, quotes from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (which I now want to read) and pieces of "scientific" text about kea birds. The mysterious, intelligent and corky kea birds that have an ...more
Apr 09, 2016 Dave rated it really liked it
Another intense reading experience from Sinisalo. Heidi and Jyrki have not long met when they undertake the hiking holiday of a lifetime. Jyrki is of that class of tourists who hate to think of themselves as tourists, rather as someone somehow close to nature and yet so terrified of despoiling the environment that he remains detached from it.
The scale of the task they've undertaken stretches their relationship to breaking point, and in the process exposing it for the possessive and controlling r
Mar 25, 2015 minna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
tuli ihan mieletön vaelluskuume tätä lukiessa!
Aug 29, 2016 Jani rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Johanna Sinisalo novel about backpacking might be influenced by her own experiences and as such has a raw realistic edge, but it lacks a direction.

When her new boyfriend Jyrki tells her that he is going backpacking in Southern Hemisphere for six months, Heidi impulsively decides to take the opportunity to hold on to the relationship and escape her life momentarily and joins him. During the trek through New Zealand to Tasmania, they will get to know each other and themselves much better, but will
Mar 17, 2016 whoa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Venla Kivilahti
Aug 03, 2016 Venla Kivilahti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Näin ihminen toimii. Ihminen toimii juuri näin. Tietää mitä taivaanrannan takana on, mutta suunta on pidettävä koska se on jäänyt päälle, koska se on päätetty, suunnan vaihtaminen tai takaisin kääntyminen on periksi antamisen merkki, kaikesta tähän asti saavutetusta lopusta. Sitä mennään ja vauhdilla vaika hyvin tiedetään mitä on edessä.(2008:323-4)
Ensimmäinen lukemani Johanna Sinisalon kirja. Matkustin reissaajien kanssa samoja polkuja sivu sivulta kiusallisessa odotuksessa. Koko ajan yllä le
Jul 26, 2014 Gretel rated it it was ok
I was underwhelmed by this one. Johanna Sinisalo is a popular author in Finland, known for her strange twist on the fantasy genre. Her novel Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi, published in English under two names; Troll:A Love Story and Not Before Sundown, is a work of art. This? Not so much.

It is about a young couple, Jyrki and Heidi, who go backpacking across Australasia. It isn't told in a linear fashion and flits back and forth in time, documenting how the young couple meet and what strange happenin
Jun 03, 2013 DMS rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 12, 2015 kari rated it liked it
Sinisalo's writing resonates with me, and this holds true for "Birdbrain" as well, but I felt a bit let down with this one. The premise is great - and again, Sinisalo got a perfect shot at a few of my interests and obsessions, from Joseph Conrad to South NZ keas - but the ending had come too quickly. There are a few possible explanations to it, and now when I think of it, it's more satisfying than when I was reading - but I also remember the slight disappointment when I was putting the book down ...more
Jay Daze
Oct 27, 2014 Jay Daze rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 04, 2013 Georgie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This reminded me of Scott Smith's 'The Ruins', Katy Gardner's 'Losing Gemma' and the films 'The Blair Witch Project' and 'The Beach' and though I haven't read 'Heart of Darkness' by Joseph Conrad (though this book encouraged me to buy if on Kindle) I know the basic premise, and as their are quotes from that novel throughout this book, it's influence is pretty clear. 'Birdbrain' is a classic 'exotic paradise turns nasty' and 'backpackers get in trouble' story, but is distinctly it's own book, wit ...more
Jun 28, 2012 Ryandake rated it really liked it
two young backpackers and an unspecified and deeply creepy “I” head out for a long backpacking trip across NZ, Australia, and Tasmania. “I” is perhaps an uninvited guest. or possibly not present at all. or perhaps both present and ubiquitous.

the synopsis of this book (the back cover/flap copy) is horrible, but i’m not sure how one could have written it better. this is not a traditional Man-vs-Nature story such as “To Build a Fire,” and yet it is perhaps (two small, environmentally-conscious) bac
Feb 25, 2012 Jane rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, birds
I am a huge fan of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Birdbrain is about a young Finnish couple hiking in Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania; to keep their packs light they don’t take much to read. The woman takes along Heart of Darkness, which is why I read this book.

Very little happens in Birdbrain. The narration alternates between the man and the woman, and it is somewhat interesting as a he thinks-she thinks psychological study. (There is a third occasional narrative of what is presumably h
Laura Walin
Pidin tästä kirjasta ihan viime meteriell asti neljän tähden edestä. Mystinen loppu oli kuitenkin liikaa itselleni, enkä edes tajunnut sitä ennen kuin luin joitain nettiarvosteluita. Muuten tarina kahden ihmisen satunnaisesta kohtaamisesta ja heidän näkemyksistään saman reitin varrelta tehdysta extreme-vaelluksesta olivat kiinnostavia ja hyvin lomitettuja. Veljen roolista odotin jotain muuta kuin mitä siitä tuli, ja näin ratkaistuna en näe veljeä tarpeellisena hahmona lainkaan.
Mar 10, 2015 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, horror
This is the second book I've read by Johanna Sinisalo. The first was "The Blood of Angels" which I really enjoyed. This one, not so much. I kept waiting for something to happen, and something did, I'm just not sure what it was. Short, quick read - honestly, if it had been much longer, I probably wouldn't have finished it. That said, I'm still leaving Ms. Sinisalo on my list of authors to always read.
Aug 04, 2011 Rainbowgirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roman
J'ai eu un grand plaisir à le lire, je trouve que Johanna Sinisalo sait vraiment planter des ambiances dans lesquelles on se sent si bien qu'elle peut raconter tout ce qu'elle veut – quoi qu'il arrive, on est bien. Elle décrit principalement les paysages que traversent les personnages, et puis les difficultés en route et comment ils en sont arrivés là, mais avec aussi peu de choses, elle rend son récit très prenant. La fin m'a néanmoins laissée un tantinet perplexe… Ce qui me l'a rendue frustran ...more
Mar 06, 2012 Evilynn rated it really liked it
Shelves: magical-realism, 2012
Once I got over the utter weirdness of reading Finnish translated into English (my Finnish is unfortunately no way near good enough to read a book) I quite liked Birdbrain. It's a bit difficult to categorize, but it's mostly a realistic story about a Finnish couple hiking in the Antipodes, interspersed with bits of Heart of Darkness and pages from the woman's psychopathic brother's life. The mood of the story is similar to that of Heart of Darkness, and I suspect I would've gotten more out of th ...more
Leah Coffin
Well, Jyrki stopped being so jerky, at the end, somewhat. Alas, subtle parallel's between the bird and Heidi's brother were not so subtle, and I didn't really get why we were being shown this kid, given that he never interacts with her again. Still, well-written enough to make me keep reading even though I hated the male protagonist.
Sep 28, 2015 John rated it it was ok
Shelves: ecology, contemporary
A strange book - quite a compelling story but to me it had a lot of loose ends. What was the background story all about? Why do objects get lost and reappear? How did the two characters manage to behave so stupidly towards the end? Perhaps other readers managed to work this all out better than I did!
Ymmärrän hyvin, jos Linnunaivot ei jokaista lukijaansa miellytä. Itselleni juonta kuljettava erämaavaellus oli niin etäinen aihe kuin vain olla voi, eikä se lukemisen päätteeksi tuntunut yhtään sen läheisemmältä - koko kirjan tunnelma oli epätodellinen, Conrad-lainauksien ansiosta jopa poeettinen, taianomainen ja jatkuvan pahaaenteilevä. Odotin Sinisalomaista yliluonnollista käännettä, mutta en suinkaan pettynyt sen puuttuessa, päinvastoin, se oli miellyttävää vaihtelua (luinhan lähes jokaisen h ...more
Aug 30, 2012 Arte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tämän ahmaisi. Jostain syystä luulin, etten välttämättä pitäisi kirjasta, koska olen niin rakastunut Ennen päivänlaskua ei voi -teokseen ettei toinen kirja voi olla mitenkään lähellekään yhtä hyvä, mutta yllätyin erittäin positiivisesti. Sinisalon tuttu rakastamani kirjoitustyyli oli osana myös tätä teosta, ja paloitteisuus teki tästä erittäin haluttavaa luettavaa. Lisäksi vaeltaminen inspiroi minua suuresti, joten aihepiiri oli erittäin osuva.

Fantasiaelementti jäi teoksessa melko pieneksi. Linn
Nov 28, 2011 Susa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Äh, olipa ihan käsittämättömän puuduttava teos. Tarinasta ei saanut oikein kiinni. Joseph Conradin kirja oli tosi päälleliimatun oloinen, oli lainaukset sitten kuinka sopivia vaan. Päähenkilöt vaikuttivat molemmat etäisiltä ja ärsyttäviltä - näitä kahta seuratessa mietti, että miten ne ovat yhteen päätyneet, puhumattakaan yhteisestä vaellusmatkasta. Koko kirja loppui ennen kuin tarinaan ehti varsinaisesti tulla mitään sen suurempaa käännekohtaa. Avoin loppu yritti varmaan olla tosi dramaattinen, ...more
Eve Kay
Aug 29, 2016 Eve Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
Jos nyt totean että loppu pelasti kaiken, en tarkoita että kaikki ennen loppua oli pskaa. Tarkoitan, että kirja loistavasta tarinastaan ja mukaansatempaavuudestaan huolimatta oli ehkä hieman rönsyilevä, ajoittain ehkä hieman ajelehtivainen ja päämäärätön ja jossain vaiheessa ehkä hitusen ärsyttävä. Okei, siis yksi hahmoista oli muutaman kerran tosi ärsyttävä. Mutta vaikka osasin aavistaa lopun jo hyvän aikaa aiemmin, sen todentuminen vain vahvisti kirjan voiman. Vaikka teksti on ehkä ajoittain h ...more
Oct 31, 2014 Suvi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oli hyvä, tykkäsin, mutta jotain jäi puuttumaan. Joko en ymmärtänyt tai lukenut tarpeeksi tarkkaan, mutten pystynyt yhdistämään kahta tarinaa toisiinsa, kuka puhui ja missä.

Don't forget to pop a book in your backpack Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Translated from the Finnish by David Hackston

Opening quote is from The Raven by Poe

Cockle Creek to South Cape Rivulet
Monday, March 2007

Hanging around a modest distance from the Tassielink minibus terminal is a group of guys, their shorts boasting rips and tears, their T-shirts with stains, their armpits and backs with patches of sweat, their hiking boots with layers of dried mud.

GAH! Something of a nothing
J. Allen Nelson
Although shelved as SF at the local library, this is more of a travelog/mystery shrouded in slight natural fantasy. (Whatever that means.) Translated from the Finnish into British English, this story of a couple backpacking through the wilds of New Zealand and Tasmania is a unique study of the relationships between not only the two main protagonists, but also that of humanity and the natural world that it is slowly destroying. I eagerly anticipate the author's famous novel Not Before Sundown whi ...more
Feb 24, 2016 Elviira rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finnish
Apr 06, 2014 Pioup rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Pioup by: Rainbowgirl
Shelves: finnish, nordic, travel, 21st
Un randonneur chevronné et une novice qui a des choses à se prouver s'embarquent dans une voyage de six mois pour faire de la randonné en Nouvelle-Zélande et en Australie (en particulier la Tasmanie). La lectrice décide de ne jamais mettre les pieds en Tasmanie, merci bien.
Très agréable à lire, super intéressant, mais j'ai un peu de mal à voir où le livre voulait en venir. La fin est, euh, abrupte. Je m'attendais à moitié à ce que quelqu'un se fasse manger par un kéa pour tout dire.
Emily Crow
A rather unlikable Finnish couple decide to hike the most isolated and rugged trails in Tasmania, and discover that they are no match for nature. This novel is both a meditation on our destructive relationship with nature and a realistic portrait of the tribulations of backpacking. It is well-written and full of vivid details, with none of the stiffness of language that sometimes occurs in translations. I will probably want to read this strange and thoughtful book again.
Rick Muir
Sep 25, 2011 Rick Muir rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A young Finnish couple go on the hiking trip of a lifetime. With"Heart of Darkness" in their backpacks and the intention of being ecologically aware, they attempt increasingly challenging trails. Their trek develops a sinister aspect as unsettling incidents occur. Belongings disappear and - more mysteriously - reappear. Finally the couple sense that, rather than these being random events, they are at the mercy of untamed natural forces directed by an intelligent being.
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ENG: Johanna Sinisalo was born in Sodankylä in 1958. In the period 1984-1997 she worked as a professional designer in advertising, after which she got started as a screenwriter and writer. As her hobbies Sinisalo mentions astronomy, gastronomy, hiking, literature and comics.

The author notes that her novels always feature a bit of the small everyday reality. However, overcoming the borders of reali
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“I tell them that in Finland the first thing men coming back from the front wanted was sex; only after that did they take their skis off.” 2 likes
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