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The Vanished Birds

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  81 ratings  ·  52 reviews
A mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman, changing both of their lives forever in this captivating debut of connection across space and time.

"This is when your life begins."

Nia Imani is a woman out of place and outside of time. Decades of travel through the stars are condensed into mere months for her, though the years continue to march steadily onward for
Hardcover, 400 pages
Expected publication: January 14th 2020 by Del Rey Books
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review.

A young boy falls from the sky. He is mute, but eventually finds his voice with a wooden flute and the magic of music. There is something very special about this boy. Myriad worlds in outer space have become established now. The blue sky overhead may very well be virtual, cherry blossoms no longer exist except in memory and fireworks. Digital glamour is all around, artificial youth and designer babies are par for the course. All tempered
Vanished Birds is a mysterious science fiction tale bathed in beautiful prose that offers glimpses of a future of seasons changing, stars within reach, technological marvels, corporate greed, and metaphysical depth.

Starting with a distant world, a colony frozen in time except for brief decades-apart visits from offworlders. You get a strong juxtaposition of the few backward souls living simple lives and the grand civilization out there. A young boy exploding from the stars changes everything.
Thank you for the ARC, Del Rey Books!

This story sounds hauntingly beautiful and I am looking forward to getting to it.
There is a promising glimmer of brilliance in The Vanished Birds, the debut sci-fi novel by Simón Jiménez. It pains me to consider what a masterly work this might have been with a few additional months of polish, scenes cut or added here and there. Keep an eye on Jiménez, though. He is likely to become one of the important voices in this genre in the coming years.

The first forty pages or so had me engrossed in the life of a young boy growing up in a primitive farming community on an alien
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4.2/5

Review: I don’t know what to say. Astounding writing for someones first novel. This writer weaves a complex tale that spans lifetimes while revolving around the same characters. Fascinating and wholly absorbing from start to semi-finish.

“So why you no give 5 stars!!!”. (view spoiler)
Elizabeth Willis
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: six-stars, team-prh
The first few chapters are like the kind of perfectly encapsulated short stories you always want to be a novel and then this IS a novel. And from then on it's just casually a far-reaching space opera of stunning emotional depth (and beautiful prose) with a cast of radiantly queer characters that will teach you the meaning of chosen family. No big deal.
Judy Lesley
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez is an example of literary science fiction done well. In fact, I would say it was done very well. Throughout the novel Jimenez is exploring the concept of home and what home means or can mean to each of us. In this story home also includes a specific person or a group of people, but there have to be feelings of safety and trust. For the young boy rescued from a crashed spaceship his past is such a horrible tangle of remembered pain that his trust was not won ...more
DNF at 20%

I like what I've read so far and do believe I will thoroughly enjoy this one when I finally get through it, but it is just too slow motion for me. At the moment I feel as though there was no purpose to the first 15% of the book; the story didn't add to the overall flavor of the book or to the mute boy's story at all. And it's entirely possible that will change, but I just don't have the time or gumption to keep trying with this one right now. I'm hoping to pull it back out later and
This is definitely one of those books that I need to subject to a reread. I tend to never read books twice, but I feel to truly understand every moving aspect of this story, I want to open it and read it again.

This book is an intricate spiderweb of intergalactic characters, plots, and politics that makes you want to crawl inside of the author's mind and ask how were you able to fit all of this in your head??.

The book is structured like many short stories woven together in a novel format.
Beth Cato
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, ebook, 2019, science
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.

What an astonishingly deep, meaningful book--one that I fully expect to be up for awards next year. Even more remarkable that this is the author's debut. That said, I didn't find it to be a flawless work, especially at the very end.

The cover copy mentions that the book is about 'space and time,' but that minimizes the book's true genre. It ends up being straight-out space opera with very literary-style elements. The book starts out
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-read
Book Review: The Vanished Birds
Author: Simon Jimenez
Publisher: Random House/Ballantine/Del Rey
Publication Date: January 14, 2020
Review Date: September 29, 2019

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
From the blurb:
“A mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman, changing both of their lives forever in this captivating debut of connection across space and time.

“This is when your life begins.”

Nia Imani is a woman out of place and outside of
Beth ~~Just One More Chapter I Swear~~
Fair warning: this review is a bit Adjective laden. I apologize right here and now...some things had to be expressed ... verbosely.

Well well well... This lucky find was a true work of art! It was a magnificently wrapped present that I didn't know I absolutely had to have in my life until I tore into it. It was a lot of things (mostly all sorts of awesome) but it was also somewhat tricky to whittle down to bite size pieces without giving away too much of what I believe to be spoiler material.
Alyson Stone
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction, arc
Book: The Vanished Birds
Author: Simon Jimenez
Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

I would like to thank the publisher, Del Rey Books, for sending me an ARC.

I was honestly surprised about the direction this book went. I guess if I had read the summary a little bit closer, it would not have caught me off guard as much. I was sent an ARC because I loved The Bear and the Nightingale, so I was expecting something along those lines. Yes, it started out like that, but things changed. It really took me, but I ended
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing, and I don't say that lightly. It feels like Ursula K. Le Guin at her best, perfectly spliced with the best Heinlein juvenile out there. That's not to say this is a juvenile by any stretch, but it shares some similarities, given that one of the protagonists is a child growing up throughout the novel. Also, the word novel isn't quite right, either. The story is told through a series of well connected stories that shift from one character's viewpoint to another's, often ...more
Oct 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written science fiction story about love, belonging, exploration, capitalism, and fear. The evolving narration is skillfully handled, bringing depth and additional perspectives to the story while keeping it focused on Nia and Ahro. The story at times moves slowly; it's character driven rather than action-driven, but the world building and character development is well done, so I never felt the book was moving too slowly. I was disappointed by a few small things at the end, but they ...more
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
(3.5, based on an ARC)

My feelings about this book are as diverse as the plots within it. Although it failed to hook me initially (it took me about 1/4 of the book before I was really invested), once I was hooked, the reading flowed and I actively wondered how it would end. The characters are fascinating (I was particularly drawn to Fumiko - I could have read an entire novel just about her) and one of its most compelling aspects is that from the beginning there are a million ways it could go. To
Nov 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review. I’ll start by saying that I look forward to this author’s next book. Sections of this book hint at great talent, particularly the middle section, but overall I found this book frustrating and the style inconsistent. The beginning and end read like a fable, while the middle is more hard science fiction, with a lovely found family story running through it. I go back and forth between thinking this book needed stricter ...more
Paul DiBara
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez may be destined to become a SciFi classic. It is erudite, complex, thought provoking and, to my mind, poetic. It might even be prescient, perhaps not in specific technologies but in its portrayal of humanity’s future social characteristics - more dystopian than a promised land.

Science fiction encompasses a broad range of styles and topics. Undoubtedly this work will not appeal to all fans. It will appeal to readers who appreciate the beauty of words when
Lou Jacobs
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A virtual tour de force debut ... although using the science fiction motif , this is a literary novel exploring frienship, love, betrayal and wonder of the fantastic. Filled with a plethora of well fleshed out characters. The main two are female ... Spaceship Captain Nia Imani and aerospace engineer Fumiko Nakajima. Fumiko believes the future of mankind is in the Stars and not on the climate savaged Earth. She is hired by the mega corporation Umbai to design a series of space stations which ...more
Nov 18, 2019 rated it liked it
ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

The Vanished Birds is set in a far-flung future after mankind has destroyed the Earth, built arc ships to save a small portion of the population, and then headed to the stars to set up capitalism and imperialism on a larger scale. It's a quiet book, a bit slow and more introspective than action-based (well, until the end, I guess) and feels like it's pulling its punches. It's obliquely conveyed Umbai is essentially the newer, space version of British
Aug 15, 2019 marked it as to-read
PW Starred: " In a profound look at humankind’s spacefaring future, Jimenez’s debut tells of both anguish and love as the result of heart-wrenching decisions. A century from now, aerospace engineer Fumiko believes humans should leave the climate-ravaged Earth, and regretfully chooses her career designing space stations over her lover, Dana, who would rather advocate for trying to save the planet. But Dana’s efforts fail, and Earth is abandoned. Fumiko extends her life through periods of ...more
Nov 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
The Vanishing Birds
by Simon Jimenez

This is a truly epic science fiction adventure across time and space. A large cast of characters, lots of political drama, serious issues and 400 pages. Sigh. 400 pages that dragged and wandered all over the rather slim plot. Maybe I completely missed the point of it all. Only in the last 50 pages did Simon Jimenez's novel come alive. I read The Vanishing Birds courtesy of NetGalley and Penguin Random House Publishers. I appreciated the opportunity, I just wish
Laura Marie
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an early edition of this book for the NYCC Sci-fi Book Club. And it's a beautifully written and realized first novel. The amount of prose here is so gorgeous, no doubt about it, and the sci-fi elements are super interesting. However, the story/pacing is purely character driven, and the plot had some issues that made me scratch my head and reread passages.

(view spoiler)
penny shima glanz
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Vanished Birds is a piece of beautiful and precise writing that is rare in a debut novel. Jimenez has crafted words and characters that draw you in and make you care for the characters, specifically for a unique child and his guardian. As the story unfolds, the bond that develops between them strengthens and slowly adds insight to how it all might fit together. This reader found Nia, the boy's guardian, most fascinating because she was a common thread through time and space and often ...more
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I suppose everyone come up against a novel that utterly frustrates attempts at writing a review. The one which leaves you with a sense of ambiguity and no way to explain what you think about it because you still aren't sure.

World building: A

Character Depth: A

Prose: A


Theme: wonders/horrors of science? colonialism? friendship and family? betrayal? the never changing flaws of society? Such a mixture of thematic elements and development.

A fresh and unusual science fiction novel that defies
Linda Bond
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The best fantasies are those which touch your heart as well as your mind. The Vanished Birds is just such a story, drawing on the love lost between a woman traveling through space/time and others who stay behind and age more quickly than she. The loneliness is the hardest part. When all we know is gone, we are truly alone. But then the boy arrives and life starts all over again for Nia. Their communication is through music, not words, and soon the two travelers forge themselves into a family of ...more
Alison (Story-eyed Reviews)
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I REALLY enjoyed this.

I had no idea what to expect when I picked up The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez but I was in for a wild ride from the start. This book grabs you quickly and never lets go, even though confusion and complex plots and concepts. I was riveted, no matter how much my brain was also whirring, trying to figure out exactly what was going on at times. I like that the book made me think, while also providing massive suspense and tension. And it really all came together in the end.

Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction-sci-fi
I received free the ARC eBook version from Netgalley for review.

This story took a while for me to get through. At first, it was quick reading but soon turned into a chore. I don't know really what to think. It's fantastical, character driven, and detailed. The usual things to keep my mind in the story and craving more. But I found this tale just too disjointed and twisted for my liking. It's at once beautiful and disheartening. I prefer a read that lets me escape, not leaving me tied up in
Patricia Romero
Nov 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
A Sci-Fi adventure.

Nia Imani travels through time. Years are like months for her, but not for the people she has loved and known. They age, they die, but not Nia. Solitary Nia.

But on one of her stops, she meets a boy that fell from the sky. The people in the area would just as soon see him gone. He doesn't speak, just plays the flute that long ago Nia gave to a man.

When Nia leaves she takes the boy with her and together they travel the skies, each filling in the empty spots in each others life.
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
The prose in The Vanished Birds is beautiful, lyrical even, especially for Science Fiction. The Vanished Birds is the story of a boy who seems to fallen from the sky into a village that produces special seeds for visitors from another place who show up every 16 years to buy them and take them away. The earth isn't doing so well, in spite of efforts to save off environmental disaster and people who have the skills and knowledge to design space stations are highly in demand.

If you like lyrical
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