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The Strange Bird: A Borne Story

(Borne #1.5)

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  4,532 ratings  ·  564 reviews

The Strange Bird—from New York Times bestselling novelist Jeff VanderMeer—is a digital original that expands and weaves deeply into the world of his “thorough marvel”* of a novel, Borne.

The Strange Bird is a new kind of creature, built in a laboratory—she is part bird, part human, part many other things. But now the lab in which she was created is under siege and the s

Kindle Edition, 96 pages
Published August 1st 2017 by MCD
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Hannah I think the experience is better to go from Borne to Strange Bird, because:
-There are tons of spoilers for Borne in this novella but no spoilers for …more
I think the experience is better to go from Borne to Strange Bird, because:
-There are tons of spoilers for Borne in this novella but no spoilers for this novella in Borne
-Borne gives you more context for where the creature "the Strange Bird" comes from and what, exactly, she is.
-There's something shown to the reader casually in The Strange Bird that actually packed a huge punch in Borne (a plot twist in Borne, but just regular plot in The Strange Bird). Knowing the plot twist before reading Borne will deflate a bit of the story(less)
Mary There's a print version. I purchased from Prairie Lights in Iowa City, IA.…moreThere's a print version. I purchased from Prairie Lights in Iowa City, IA.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,532 ratings  ·  564 reviews

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Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Strange Bird is a story that takes place in the Borne universe during the same timeline as the original novel, but from the perspective of a different character called the Strange Bird. Part human and part bird, VanderMeer's world gets a different perspective as the Strange Bird escapes her laboratory prison and learns about the world outside its walls.

I don't want to give too much away about this story because it would lessen its impact, but I was definitely crying by the end. I will say th
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-reads
I'm not sure that I can adequately put into words how I feel about this story or the Borne world as a whole. The word "enveloped" came to mind when I was adding a progress update here. The life and the consciousness of The Strange Bird enveloped me. I was able to see directly into the strange soul of this life and the world abound. I understand it, but can not explain it. Start with Borne. Follow thru with this one. Five stars. Not sure why. ...more
If I were to compare it to Borne, this novella is even more touching. Add to it a heartbreaking story and you've got yourself a winner.

However, I made the mistake to read it right after Borne, who is still in my heart, with no room left for another from this universe for now. That's why I did not root for the Strange Bird as I know I would have had I read it any other time.

Leaving aside this quirk of mine, the story is exquisite: beautiful writing, compelling story (despite being slowly built bu
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
What did she hope for? To find a purpose, and for kindness, which had not yet been shown to her. Where did she wish to come to rest? A place she could call home, a place that was safe. A place where there might be others of her kind.

The Strange Bird has lived in a lab all her life, enduring experiments that may have invaded her manufactured body, but not her spirit. Her resilience was due in part to a special bit of DNA in her unique make up and from something extra and very purposeful added to
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Cannot be read without having read Borne. Can be read without reading Dead Astronauts. There is usually a moment when I think, 'Aha, only three stars this time, VanderMeer!' Only to be proven wrong by an end that just brings it home. Fab.
She sang for joy. Not because she had not suffered or been reduced. But because she was finally free and the world could not be saved, but nor would it be destroyed.
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
I am blown away by how beautiful and atmospheric this was. I truly felt the despair and it makes you venture into the madness with this bird-seriously had left me feeling anxious multiple times throughout the book.

This is a little side story to Jeff VanderMeer's story Borne. We follow The Strange Bird in this novella; however, past characters like The Magician and Wick show up as well. I will say, I truly despise the Magician even more than before, and absolutely love Wick. When you read thi
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, own, read_2018, kindle
The Strange Bird, is a laboratory made creature comprised of avian, human, and other generically enhanced bio-form. As a concept, the character is flawless; inventive, emotionally complex, and loaded with geeked-out gadgetry. As the centerpiece to a plot driven by poetic-like prose and nonsensical threads, it's a let down.

Set in the same world as the post apocalyptic Borne, the novella would struggle to resonate with readers not familiar with its predecessor, even though the events span a timeli
Laura Noggle
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, under-200-pages
Five stars because: What. A. Trip.

"She spoke to the Strange Bird more and more, not knowing that the Strange Bird betrayed her now just by living."

Shocking, sickening, terrible, haunting, beautiful, sad*—ephemeral.

Not exactly what one might typically look for in a book but at the same time, utterly enchanting AND under 100 pages of tight prose.

The follow up to Borne, this one was the perfect "1.5" segue before the much anticipated Dead Astronauts.

"Yet what did it matter. For what are bodies? W
Jun 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-horror
This was okay. It was an interesting new perspective in the world of Borne. It is very short and can be read in about 2 hours.

The Strange Bird is a piece of biotech, escaped from the lab of the Company. I would not recommend reading it prior to reading Borne as it would not make much sense.

I did enjoy seeing some of the old characters again, although there was no Borne who was my favorite character from the original book.

I did guess very early on what the Strange Bird's purpose was, but I didn'
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More than 5-Stars!

Exquisite heart, exquisite prose. A small masterpiece.

A small miracle of light and joy and pain and, in the end, of love and life.

VanderMeer once again transports us to his dystopian world of "Borne".

Notes and quotes:

And even then she did not know that the sky was blue or what the sun was, because she had flown out into the cool night air and all her wonder resided in the points of light that blazed through the darkness above. But then the joy of flying overtook her and she we
I wish this novella is a novel. While I am glad to come back to Borne's world and VanderMeer's writing, I need more than just a sad story of a bird suffering over its biotech origin and the way most people treating it. I need more agency, less hopelessness. There could be more pages for that purpose but I guess that's not what the author was aiming for. ...more
10th book for 2020.

A phantasmagorical novella, set in a post-apocalyptic planet, crammed full with discarded biotech, much of it sentient, regarding the trials and travails of a preternatural bird cast up in a hostile world it doesn't understand.

Rian *fire and books*
I *think* I understand this book and the story in it. I’m not sure though. This definitely is not the kind of book you can just pause the audiobook for and pick up right away. Things move and shift and it’s not the easiest to keep up with.
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018

this was a BEAUTIFUL little short story from the "Borne" universe - but honestly it's pretty wonderful even on it's own. This story is crude, a bit gruesome, but also wonderful much in the same way "Borne" was. I'll never get enough of this world or VanderMeer's writing.
Nate D
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019, sci-fi
Life -- beleaguered by survival, remade against its will, eviscerated by the uncaring anthropocene -- yet perseveres. In some form, in some shred of itself. It adapts, transforms or is transformed, continues. There's a kind of ambivalent hope in Vandermeer's recent work -- no matter how much we can destroy, someone, something, will gather the pieces to be destroyed again. I think there's a truth in this, I think this will be our collective experience in over the next 50 years or so. Much is goin ...more
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jeff VanderMeer's writing style is superb, lyrical, astounding, memorizing, beautifully uplifting and devastatingly sad all wrapped together. His creativeness just blew me away. I'm definately going to read Borne a lot sooner than I thought I would. This was truly a lovely and strange sci-fi read. ...more
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

I appreciated the nod to The Blue Fox, that was a lovely surprise. This novella had a similar, almost abstract feel to it.

It's worth mentioning that VanderMeer really cranked up the visceral elements throughout this story. Some of the descriptions were difficult to read, but they also managed to be morbidly thrilling at the same time. As twisted as it may sound, the level of cruelty happening to the main character kept the suspense levels high for me. I read this in one sitting, so tha
ash c
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Poignant, moving, heart-wrenching, touching, I'm just throwing out synonyms because it hurt me so much.

Only VanderMeer has the ability to make me connect with, and feel sorry for, so far: a dolphin with 'strangely human eyes' (which, by the way, precedes my favourite line in the book. Also has anyone watched the movie? It was completely different from the book but it was amazing too. Heart-wrenching. Also I can't believe I never wrote a review for the book - going to re-read it soon), a blob of
Laci Long || Book Pairings
The Strange Bird is a companion novella to Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne and is set during the same timeframe as the novel. Borne was one of my favorite books of 2017 so I was SUPER excited to read The Strange Bird.

The Strange Bird follows a creature that is the result of experimentation combining human and bird genetic material after she manages to escape the laboratory she was created in. We get to experience this strange world from the perspective of a creature who is completely alone and trying t
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an exquisitely written novella that acts as an addition to Jeff VanderMeer’s novel Borne. The writing is beautiful, however the world is harsh and bizarre but grounded with emotion as you follow the strange bird and its journey across this extraordinary land. I love the imagination of VanderMeer and the unique stories he creates, this book is another brilliant example of this. I’d very much recommend it!

I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley in return for a fair and unbiased revie
Meagan ✊🏼 Blacklivesmatter ✊🏼Blacktranslivesmatter
The timeline for this novella happens before, during and after Borne. This allows us to meet new bioengineered beings made by The Company. We also get an inside look into the Magician's plans, motivations and her personality. We even get to see Rachel and Wick again! It was interesting to get a different perspective of the amazing world that VanderMeer built in Borne through a different set of eyes. I thought the ending was lovely and really spoke to me. The writing was great and the format work ...more
In this novella's expansion of VanderMeer's Borne, the reader again is witness to his unparalleled imagination. The Strange Bird inhabits a desperate world where again we meet the mutant flying bear, Mord, the cruel Magician, Rachel the survivor and her lover Wick. "...the situation was extreme and the world was dying. So they had gone on doing the same things that had destroyed the world, to save it." The Strange Bird is a mutant creature comprised of human and avian genes, and technology. "Wha ...more
Oleksandr Zholud
Apr 13, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a novelette set in the same word as Borne, but with another main character - the artificial bird, produced in the lab. We actually met her in the novel, but weren't aware of it.

The wonderful bird with bright multi-colored plumage escapes the lab and has an urge to get to some place she is unaware of. She has strange dreams of her creators (?), two women from the lab. On the way to her goal she is captured by different persons, including one from the novel.

A nice companion read to the nov
Jeff Raymond
A short novella in the Borne universe, this is a fairly standard modern VanderMeer piece with gorgeous writing and a comprehensible story that gives plenty of nods and extras to the Borne story while also existing on its own. If you prefer your science fiction on the prettier side or really loved Borne, give this a read.
WOW!!! For me this novella had it all!

-Amazing worldbuilding,
-Impressive and touching story,
-Good and engaging characters - some of them were also present in Borne- ,
-Solid and unexpecting ending,
-After finishing it you really feel that the Borne Universe could have and needs other great stories like this one.

And I do hope that the writer will return very soon to it!!!
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stories in parallel

I love stories that reveal what was happening on the other side of a novel. The mysterious Magician from Borne is still a mystery, but this book provides a a satisfying bit of overlap, and much more, a glimpse of a wider world.
Conor Ahern
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: dystopian, sci-fi
I don't think I got it.

It seemed pretty, but this was a short subway book. You miss a few key clues and it's just a bunch of cryptic poetry.
Andy Davidson
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Transcendent, sublime, every soaring superlative you can think of. Do read BORNE first, by all means, but oh-so-wonderful.
Ronald Morton
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
I generally don’t care for these types of releases - small novella length stories (or, worse, just a long short story) - they almost never feel like they specifically have much to say, and seem to be trying to milk some cash out of a well received work without having to put as much time into a true follow up. Which is cynical of me, but it doesn’t change that view.

But, this was actually really good, and is a really strong parallel text to Borne. I probably even enjoyed this a bit more than Borne
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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

Other books in the series

Borne (2 books)
  • Borne (Borne #1)
  • Dead Astronauts (Borne #2)

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