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(Borne #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  31,234 ratings  ·  3,912 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
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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)
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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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. ...more
Jun 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nataliya by: Britton
Shelves: 2021-reads
“We all just want to be people, and none of us know what that really means.”
It’s a weird story, off-kilter and bizarre, of a world so surreal and fragile, almost like a fever dream, an unsettling hallucination precariously teetering on the edge of a nightmare and occasionally dipping into sheer insanity.
“The real reality is something we create every moment of every day, that realities spin off from our decisions in every second we've alive.”
Imagine a nightmarish ruined city which is yet
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
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 future
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
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
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
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.

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. ...more
Matt 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
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy, 2021
Boy, I really struggled to maintain my interest in this book. I hasten to add this is not an indictment of the author or his tale; it just did not ‘click’ for me. As far as I can tell, and this is probably a major assumption given how deliberately opaque it is, ‘Borne’ is a typical quest fantasy dressed up in apocalyptic biopunk gear.

The quest is to find the headquarters of the so-called Company, whose origins and actions are shrouded in mystery, and which did or did not decimate the nameless ci
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
Up through the first third of Borne, I was enjoying it as four stars, a fine delicate glass sculpture of a book. It wasn’t meaty, even then, but I liked the possibility of the setting, a post-apocalyptic wartorn city, filled with bio-engineered terrors running amok and ruled over by a Godzilla-style flying bear named Mord. I liked the cool distance of the narrator, Rachel the Scavenger, as she searched for goods caught in Mord’s fur, always fearful of his awakening. And then she finds something, ...more
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
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
Kitty G Books
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
I love Jeff VanderMeer. Even when I don’t love his stories, I love his capacity to take his readers to strange and unexpected places that are unlike anything else they have read before. Surprisingly, I would say that “Borne” is one of his most accessible works, definitely less convoluted than the “Southern Reach” trilogy (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) and less baroque than the Ambergris cycle.

Rachel survives in a world that used to be like the one we live in by scavenging the ruined
May 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Once it was different. Once, people had homes and parents and went to schools. Cities existed within countries and those countries had leaders. Travel could be for adventure or recreation, not survival. But by the time I was grown up, the wider context was a sick joke. Incredible, how a slip could become a freefall and a freefall could become a hell where we lived on as ghosts in a haunted world.

In a devastated, post-apocalyptic landscape, Rachel, a scavenger, finds a small, fist-sized creature
“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
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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

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