Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Borne” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Borne #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  22,795 ratings  ·  3,081 reviews


The dark, dangerous, funny and uplifting new novel from the author of Annihilation, the inspiration for the major motion picture directed by Alex Garland.

‘Neither of us had control of our monsters anymore’

In a ruined city of the future, Rachel scavenges a strange creature from the fur of a despotic bear.

She names him Borne.

He remin

Kindle Edition, 369 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Fourth Estate
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Borne, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Jess Disclaimer: I'm only halfway through Borne. But in terms of writing style and the book's characteristics so far, I think you will. I loved all three S…moreDisclaimer: I'm only halfway through Borne. But in terms of writing style and the book's characteristics so far, I think you will. I loved all three Southern Reach books, but Annihilation is my favorite. Borne is written from a first person perspective and VanderMeer has a good grasp of writing in the female voice, which I felt was evident in annihilation. Borne's a complex character, but VanderMeer does a good job of describing him, and he also develops the human relationships as much as he does the action and drama of the science. I also feel that Borne holds a clarity in writing style that the Southern Reach books lacked. I read a chunk of the ending, and there seems to also be resolution, which is a trait that the Southern Reach trilogy definitely lacked. Hope you'll give it a shot!(less)
Naomi Not much similarity between Borne and Perdido Street Station except they are both dystopias with biological hazard themes and populations struggling f…moreNot much similarity between Borne and Perdido Street Station except they are both dystopias with biological hazard themes and populations struggling for survival. Mieville's fantasies are rife with senseless cruelty (the remade) and have stock characters that are difficult to empathize with. Borne is set in a very grim , destroyed civilization, but the characters are more sympathetic. (less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  22,795 ratings  ·  3,081 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Borne
Kevin Kelsey
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
Posted at Heradas Review

VanderMeer’s writing is engaging, difficult, and worth the effort required to read. It takes me a little longer to finish his novels than I feel like it should. It’s the kind of writing that makes me a better reader. It’s challenging and uncomfortable. Something about his prose makes me have to go back and reread sentences to make sure I understood what was being said. It reminds me of William Gibson’s writing in that way. Of course, VanderMeer and Gibson write in entirel
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pagehabit
We all just want to be people, and none of us know what that really means.

oh, jeff vandermeer…. to my shame, i have yet to read the southern reach trilogy, although i own all three, and have owned them for a good long time now. and while we’re on the subject of my many personal failings, i actually own a TON of his books, including three copies of city of saints and madmen, in at least two different versions. many of these are in storage right now, after bedbug-overreaction 2015 sent so many boo
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Holy crap on a cracker!! Mind blown!!

Mel 🖤🐺❤️
Jeffrey Keeten
”The closer I approached, the more Borne rose up through Mord’s fur, became more like a hybrid sea anemone and squid: a sleep vase with rippling colors that strayed from purple toward deep blues and sea greens. Four vertical ridges slid up the sides of its warm and pulsating skin. The texture was as smooth as waterworn stone, if a bit rubbery. It smelled of beach reeds on lazy summer afternoons and, beneath the sea salt, of passionflowers. Much later, I realized it would have smelled different t ...more
Re-read 6/14/18:

It never ceases to astound me how much one day's blow-me-over imaginative fiction can suddenly be a warm and cozy blanket to carry me through a chilly night. Or, I should say, an enormous bear-hug to destroy whatever is left of a dystopian-ravaged city to give my belly a good belly laugh.

But it does, and strange is the new comfort food. :)

It may not be as great the second time because I knew what the reveals were going to be, but I still enjoyed the sheer beauty of the imaginatio
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
World building


I absolutely adored many things about this book but I think ultimately I admire Jeff VanderMeer's craft more than I enjoyed reading it.

He has a brilliant way with words and the pictures he paints are vivid, frightening, sad, and scary. I enjoy the fact that he is not only clever but ultimately trusts the reader to be clever, too. He lets you fill in the blanks yourself, he doesn't dumb down the story and he knows you will follow
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gloriously bizarre. The world building is incredible. Within the first night I started reading this, I had nightmares. There's an icky flying bear that is sort of a GMO cautionary tale. The biotech is wicked (heehee, there's a pun in there, but you have to read the book to get it). This novel grows as you read it, just like it's titular character Borne.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve wanted to read VanderMeer for some time and my plan was to start with the Southern Reach trilogy, his most known work up to date. Then Borne came along and, after consulting with GR friends, I decided that the most recent novel would be the better place to start my incursion in the author’s oeuvre as it is a standalone story.

Borne has many of the usual dystopian elements: a post-apocalyptic world, characters fighting for survival, raw behavior feelings and, a nostalgia for the former times
J.L.   Sutton
There's something very fantastical about the dystopian world Jeff VanderMeer creates in Borne; this is especially evident in the novel's title character. It's interesting to see Borne develop through the protagonist's eyes. However, for all the discussion and questioning about how the world came to be filled with biological mutations, like Borne, I feel there is a lack of depth to this exploration. I may be overly critical here because I kept being reminded of Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake (w ...more
Hannah Greendale
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend. ...more
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ten Stars.

Ask not for whom the bell tolls.
It tolls for thee.

Exquisite and extraordinary... A poignant and terrible vision, an astounding dystopia, so plausible, so actually probable now. This is a book you LIVE, not just read. This is a life you anticipate.

All through this extraordinary and wonderful book, I found myself nearly in tears as I watched Rachel (my "grand-daughter" in this story) suffer and struggle in the wreck of a world we are creating for her now. I find Rachel’s terrible futu
4.5ish stars.

Post-apocalypse but instead of zombies or raiders or corrupt governments, this is full-on wackiness. Gigantic flying bear, Mord, is Lord of the city and has a brood of regular terrifying bears that act as proxies for carrying out his royal bearship's horrific rule. Little kids with bee eyes and wings and all sorts of other gruesome "modifications" run around maiming and killing for fun. The city has been wasted of its natural resources and survival is only possible by scavenging th
Jessica Woodbury
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, sci-fi-fantasy
I really enjoyed ANNIHILATION, the first of the Southern Reach books, but found my interest waned after that for reasons I could never quite put my finger on. VanderMeer is great at mood but I felt like there was something I needed that was missing, particularly in the later books. So I was very interested to read BORNE while also approaching it with a little trepidation.

BORNE was a really satisfying read and also helped me pinpoint the thing that I'd been missing in the Southern Reach novels: a
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my second book by this author and, in my opinion, it was less weird but still immensely rich in details.

We are in a nameless city. The city once housed a company (also just called "the Company") that created biotech. We learn that wars and global warming must have laid waste to this world, aided by the Company's experiments. Mord, a massive flying bear that was also created by the Company and that is more than five storeys high, is terrorising the survivors in the city.
Only three of th
3.5 stars. Dreamy, weird, curious, slow, meditative, amusing, beautiful, violent....Borne is all this, and a lot of tentacles. Definitely reminiscent of the author's Southern Reach trilogy in terms of the dystopia, environmental concerns, strange creatures, and the brutality coupled with the quiet, wistful, and almost remote and distanced feel of the narration.
Matthew Quann
Jul 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Five Forms of Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne

1. The Imaginative Dystopia

Borne is set in a dystopian world unlike anything else I’ve read (except, perhaps, other Vandermeer). Rachel, our lead, is a scavenger who hunts for food and supplies in a surreal landscape in order to keep her and her romantic partner alive. There are feral children with wasps that allow them to see flying about in their eye sockets. In a world where biologically engineered organisms (biotech) have been allowed to run wild, every e
2.5 stars

A dystopian novel featuring a giant flying bear named Mord and a plant/person(?) named Borne shouldn’t have been so soporific that it literally put me to sleep nightly for two weeks. But hey, at least I’m now feeling well rested!

The best part was the reveal of the letter. But I don’t think it was worth the effort/time to get to that point. Pass.

Since Annihilation I became a fan of Vandermeer. His writing is not easy, to me it really requires effort to read but I think it really worth it. I found myself reading a paragraph two or three times so I can absorb the meaning. It’s for sure an above-average reading experience.

Borne happens in a post-apocalyptic world. The world as we know is ruined, rivers are poisoned, genetically engineered creatures roam the cities, even govern them and people are just trying to survive every day. Same as S
Book Riot Community
Trust me: you are going to be hearing about this book for the rest of the year. It’s one of the best Sci-Fi/Dystopian hybrids to come out in years. Fans of VanderMeer’s The Southern Reach trilogy are going to eat this up. The book follows a scavenger named Rachel during the recent apocalypse. She and her fellow survivor Wick are threatened by Mord: an impossibly large (flying) bear who destroys everything in his wake. One day, Rachel finds a strange creature embedded in Mord’s fur. She becomes o ...more
Dannii Elle
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Two beautiful book editions, a renowned author, and a unique sounding plot all culminated in my anticipating great things from this. Unfortunately, I think this may have been a case of expectations too highly placed.

Whilst not at all a horrible book, there was something about the writing quality that perpetually kept me at a distance from feeling anything about this book or for its characters. The actual bones of the plot were individual enough to keep me intrigued but I can't say that I was eve
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This book has a godzilla-sized flying bear and a gigantic shapeshifting inverted squid being and a lot of heartbreak and love.
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The dystopian reality of Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne is occupied by an enraged, giant flying bear named Mord that hunts and slaughters feral, sociopathic children in a post-apocalyptic urban wasteland. Imagine what it would take under those circumstances to come across something truly bewildering. When Rachel, the novel’s protagonist and narrator, discovers the being she names Borne while salvaging through the forest of fur on Mord’s sleeping body, she is unsure if it is a plant or animal or anythin ...more
You know what? Sometimes I start a book and I'm sure it's not for me, this is one of those times, but yet there was some niggling feeling that I should give this a fair chance, and keep reading, and I am really glad I did. Although this book falls into the New Weird category very aptly - it's completely a weird read - I found it grew much better as it went, and I ended up really quite enjoying the characters and their story. I will say, this is never going to be a book that works for everyone, i ...more
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Finally a Vandermeer novel that I not only enjoyed reading, but understood. It has a start, middle and an end. It’s not a part of a trilogy pretending to be a complete book. It’s a full story, a great yarn and a scary look at a possible future for us.

For the first time, I am gripped by a JV novel, glued to the pages and the spine chilling story. Those in the know will know what I mean when [she] walks into the pool room and Wick is talking to Rachel. Even though I knew it was coming, it still se
2.5. This one is hard for me to rate. I am certainly an outlier here. The average rating is pretty high at 3.93. It took me quite a while to feel like I knew what the hell was going on in this (I think) post apocolyptic world. This is the 2nd book by VanDerMeer that's made me feel this way so I'm not sure if I'm just a dip or it's his writing style. I would have liked more back story as to why the world was in the state it was. I never felt very connected with the characters either. Maybe VanDer ...more
“There comes a moment when you witness events so epic you don’t know how to place them in the cosmos or in relation to the normal workings of a day. Worse, when these events recur, at an ever greater magnitude, in a cascade of what you have never seen before and do not know how to classify. Troubling because each time you acclimate, you move on, and, if this continues, there is a mundane grandeur to the scale that renders certain events beyond rebuke or judgment, horror or wonder, or even the
2 and a half stars. Maybe 3.

I'm not sure how to express my feelings on this book.

On the one hand, it's fascinating and well written with interesting characters, creatures and world.

On the other hand, I wish that more had been revealed sooner (and just... more). There are still too many secrets built into pretty language. Just tell me something. Answer a question or two. It's almost plot-less as well in a weird way. The reveals aren't really built up, and if the main character doesn't much car
May 30, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This hardcover edition of “Borne” by Jeff Vandermeer is the signed slip cased edition produced by Powell’s Books as an exclusive edition in their book line titled “Indispensable Subscribers”. The book states it is a first edition (2017) of the Farrar, Straus and Giroux edition.

Powell's subscription club (Indispensable Subscribers) delivers the best new books, with special attention to independent publishers. Signed editions. Inventive, original sets. Exclusive printings... Every six to eight we
ashley c
Partially filled the Southern Reach-shaped hole in my heart. This is VanderMeer in his element, very Area X-esque - a scavenger working and co-surviving with her lover in a desolate, abandoned city full of trash and things reminiscent of a society, now only to be scavenged. VanderMeer masterfully builds his world such that we know what it now looked like, dark and grimy, and also what it used to be, and I could see that it was once shiny and futuristic (I do love them alcohol minnows).

The star
Jason Lundberg
I was up last night until 1 a.m. reading the last 90 pages of this novel, and this morning its images and events still haunt me. The strange family of Rachel, Wick and Borne, the murderous rage of Mord and his proxies, the machinations of the Magician, and the blasted surreal landscape they all inhabit. There are similarities to Area X here, in the weirdness of the biologically altered creatures and the resilience of the natural world, but I prefer to see them as separate works that examine the ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Questions about The ending 9 535 Apr 29, 2020 06:05PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Page number correction (9780008159214) 2 16 Feb 08, 2019 06:37AM  
BooktubeSFF Awards: Jeff VanderMeer's Borne: readalong 29 152 May 02, 2018 04:47AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • This Is How You Lose the Time War
  • Exhalation: Stories
  • Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy, #1)
  • The City We Became (Great Cities #1)
  • The City & the City
  • All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)
  • Autonomous
  • Blackfish City
  • The Scar (New Crobuzon, #2)
  • Recursion
  • Agency (The Peripheral #2)
  • The Memory Police
  • The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth, #3)
  • Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon, #1)
  • The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)
  • Semiosis (Semiosis Duology, #1)
  • The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)
  • I Am a Hero Omnibus, Volume 11
See similar books…
NYT bestselling writer Jeff VanderMeer has been called “the weird Thoreau” by the New Yorker for his engagement with ecological issues. His most recent novel, the national bestseller Borne, received wide-spread critical acclaim and his prior novels include the Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance). Annihilation won the Nebula and Shirley Jackson Awards, has been translat ...more

Other books in the series

Borne (2 books)
  • Dead Astronauts (Borne, #2)

Related Articles

Winter is upon us and the chill of the season is creeping through in this month's collection of new books. Bundle up, gen...
51 likes · 16 comments
“We all just want to be people, and none of us know what that really means.” 36 likes
“That's the problem with people who are not human. You can't tell how badly they're hurt, or how much they need your help, and until you ask, they don't always know how to tell you.” 22 likes
More quotes…