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The Vanished Birds

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  3,197 ratings  ·  672 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, 391 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by Del Rey Books
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Janine Ballard I would definitely tag this one as LGBTQ+.

(1) Fumiko Nakijama, a major character, was almost certainly lesbian—she had lived a long time and has been…more
I would definitely tag this one as LGBTQ+.

(1) Fumiko Nakijama, a major character, was almost certainly lesbian—she had lived a long time and has been with multiple women, her one great past love was a woman and we never see her with a man or have any indication that she might be attracted to a man.

(2) Ahro, another major character (the “boy” referred to in the blurb) is young. As an older teen he’s attracted to other young men. He hasn’t had a lot of time to explore his sexuality but it’s pretty clear from his thoughts that he’s either bisexual or gay. I suppose someone could consider this mere flirting with same-sex attraction but I didn’t see it in that light; same-sex attraction read like an established part of his character to me.

(3) Sartoris, a significant secondary character, states plainly that he has never had feelings of sexual attraction. He is clearly asexual.

(4) “The Kind One,” an important individual in Ahro’s backstory, is referred to by Ahro with the pronoun “they.” So this person is nonbinary.

The things I described above are shown rather than told so we don’t see anyone self-identify with a label. Perhaps that’s not even a thing people do in this world? I don’t know. Nevertheless I don’t see how the four characters I mentioned can be viewed as straight. They are clearly queer.

(5) Finally, the author identifies as gay so this is an #ownvoices book.(less)
posthuman Definitely not YA. Although one of the lead characters is a boy, the style of writing is more literary or upmarket SF, not young adult.

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  3,197 ratings  ·  672 reviews

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Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Universe Stars GIF - Universe Stars Pretty GIFs

Holy. Freaking. Moly!! I love this book!!

Wow, what an amazing ride; I think this might end up being my favourite book of 2020, or at the very least my favourite science fiction! It was incredible. How the hell is this a debut novel?? This is something a long time writer with years of writing experience would have written. This is genius!

The Vanished Birds spans a millennium and is set on many worlds in many galaxies. It begins on a planet where every 15 years, a spaceship arrives to collect the
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.
David Putnam
Apr 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Not sure how I like this book. The story is clear and obvious, but I again think it’s the Fictive Dream that I am missing. The writing is top notch, the concept intriguing, the characters interesting, for a Space Opera.
The first chapter doesn’t open with the main character which I always think is a mistake. The opening words are the contract with the reader that says, “take a look, this is what and how I’m going to tell the story.” The first chapter is historical information in the point of vie
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs-read

This book went so far over my head, it's now residing somewhere in the thermosphere.

Let's chat about it, shall we?

The Vanished Birds is a good book. The quality of the writing is fantastic. Absolutely gorgeous storytelling, however, I have to rate the book based upon my personal reading experience.

For me this was a fair, to good, reading experience. Pleasant, nothing off-putting, but not significantly engaging either. If I had the mental capacity to understand it more, perhaps my rating would h
Dec 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-reads
I wish I could just cut out the first chapter out of this book and have it be its own story.

After the first chapter I was in love with this book. It was melancholically bittersweet and wonderful and a beautiful self-contained story that could have stood completely on its own. A story of a life spent under the hold of what could have been, the possibilities and longing, a life punctuated by brief glimpses of the life and the person you crave, until with the passage of decades you realize that you
Probably the best SFF book I read this year. Beautiful beyond words. It's just been a day since I finished it. I realize anything I'll say in this review will not do it justice.

What I could say for now is that the novel spoke to me in such a profound way. I was not just immersed in its fascinating world-building, but it was emotive since the very first page. While the plot held my attention, the character-driven narrative, written beautifully, was the X factor. I could not help but sympathize w
4.5ish stars.

I couldn't help seeing this as kind of the anti-Wayfarers. This book and Becky Chambers’s series share themes of finding family, love, and acceptance among motley crews across spacetime. Whereas The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (which I also really enjoyed) is optimistic and warms your heart, Vanished Birds leaves your heart outside in the heat until it’s shriveled like a raisin. Still sweet but with several extra sides of bitter.

Not a selling point? Then let me assure you tha
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 temper
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 some additional polish, scenes cut or added here and there. Keep an eye on Jiménez, though. He will likely 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 world. He falls i
Dec 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-read
4.5 stars

A beautifully woven and well-crafted story about finding and defining identity, friendship, and family. It's about coming to terms with what love means, and what lengths you will go to defend it, or to redeem its loss.

The story is intensely character driven, exploring the interior lives of the players in great detail. Jimenez's debut novel shines with the polish and assurance of a writer comfortable with himself and his craft, delivering to the reader equal helpings of joy and sorrow, l
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a deeply moving character-driven book that could have been a love child, a cross between Becky Chambers and Orson Scott Card at his very best.

It has the wonderful relationships and harrowing loss of interstellar travel including time dilation effects, colony worlds, and the people who must suffer such a life, but more than that, it goes beyond an almost litSF beautiful prose approach and heads straight into classic SF territory.

Let me be frank. I love this.

And I laughed out loud when I
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is so difficult to put into words. The blurb isn’t inaccurate, but at the same time I feel like it doesn’t do a great job of conveying how brilliant this story really is. Nia Imani is captain of a space crew, transporting goods for Allied Space. The problem is, they travel by what is called pocket space, eight months for her is the equivalent of fifteen years planet side. She watches her friends’ and lovers’ lifetimes go by in just a few short years. We also follow Fukimo Nakajima, the ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
‘’The Vanished Birds’ by Simon Jimenez is haunting me like a song stuck inside my head. It’s beautiful and terribly sad.

The feeling is:

There was a lump in my throat when I finished reading. Strangely, while the novel is an elegiac and melancholy tune, I feel good about having read it. It is in the end about love, memory, trust, duty and family. The novel made me very teary.

The science fiction plot is a series of stories which connect to each other like a music album
This is a poetic, evocative, dreamlike, deeply imagined book. It’s hard to believe that it’s a first novel, considering how assured the sentence-to-sentence writing is, and how completely and convincingly Jimenez has created his far-future society. There are times when the pacing feels perhaps a bit too diffuse and languid, and one of the major plot twists in particular feels a bit unearned, but overall, I am deeply impressed by this novel, and I will avidly seek out whatever Jimenez does next.
4.5 stars

Holy sh*** is this beautiful! Devastating and brutal, but beautiful!

The first and the last part are lyrical perfection, the middle part is 'only' good. What a grandiose prose for a debut novel - I'm overwhelmed. In parts I'm not sure the inner logic of the story worked and rational readers certainly will find enough to pick on. But overall this was one of those rare books, that spoke directly to my soul, that moved me so deeply that every possible flaw simply pales.

What a writer! I wan
Allison Hurd
Don't read this if you want to avoid impressions about the SFFBC BOTM!

(view spoiler)
Elizabeth Willis
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: six-stars, team-prh, sff, queer
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. ...more
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Intergalactic traveler, Captain Nia Imani, was hired by the Umbai Company to complete six cycles of crop collection from distant farming worlds. Nia's ship "Debby" folded into "pocket space" where a journey of mere months across space and time could tabulate to one and a half decades of time in a far away world. Nia, an offworlder, landed in Kaeda's family community every fifteen years to collect the harvest of dhuba seeds (seeds with a mauve patina). On Shipment Day, a great banquet was held fo ...more
4.5 stars, for story and audio. A beautifully written, deeply creative book, with a glorious mix of complex characters, interesting technology, and non-linear storytelling. I especially loved the beginning and the end. However, though I felt the middle to be less immediately compelling, it also felt very necessary to the telling of the story - a slow, careful weaving of worlds and people so that the ending could be felt with its full emotional weight. I'll be thinking about this book for a long ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

I enjoyed The Vanished Birds very much, which surprised me, because it ended up not being the kind of book I would typically like at all! I would definitely recommend it, though I think convincing others that they should check it out will be tough, since the novel is difficult to categorize and the story itself can be a bit strange. By the end of it though, it filled me with a mix of complex emotions, some happy and bitter
Dawn C
This book is both beautiful and horrific. I’m quite shaken, to be honest, and don’t really know how I feel about it.

The prose is definitely wonderful, and there’s real beauty in the relationships between the many characters described, especially the ship’s captain, Nia, and the boy she takes care of as her own. I wept for them. A lot.

But there were other characters whose motivations didn’t stand out as strong for me, so I missed out on feeling connected to parts of the story. The parts that did
Feb 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
Really loved this. It’s a space opera I guess, as it’s all about space travel, crossing galaxies and there’s many planets and cultures visited but for me it read as a very human story about relationships, and friendship, love and memories and connections. There’s also a big undercurrent of corporate exploitation of both their employees and their research.
It’s quite a long book so not a quick read and the chapters are quite different with different characters taking centre stage which I enjoyed,
The Captain
Jan 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

This is certainly an excellent debut novel even if the third part of the book didn't work for me.  The book follows three people - a ship's Captain (Nia), a scientist (Fumiko), and a mute boy who falls from the sky.  Eventually the lives of all three of these people intersect and changes the world.

This really was a hard novel to classify so if any of this sounds
Sep 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi-club-read
More like a 3.5 stars. The first couple of chapters/stories were very good and captivated me. Wondering where the overall story was headed, I liked the way Jimenez setup the main characters' interactions using their different, respective timelines.

Unfortunately it just wasn't able to keep me emotionally attached. There were some moments, like when the first crew gets dumped and the very end when Ahro and Nia almost find each other again but mostly it felt like mindless wandering around other co
4.5 stars. Absolutely beautiful. A novel filled with sadness, regret, several betrayals, loss and love. And the powerful pull a place, or a song, can have on one….
I loved this far future story with its long timeline, slow pacing, and its two main characters, Nia Imani, and Fumiko Nakajima. And the boy, Aro, that they both are desperate to protect from a predatory and very powerful corporation.
My enjoyment of this book hinged on the characters and their relationships, and Nia and her love for th
Aug 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
This was a moving beautiful book. So well narrated I lost myself. The writing was often poetic.

It is sci-fi and the future world is important to the story- but it is also a story of connections made and lost, found family, and loves that bring direction to lives. A few explosions and murders, but those aren’t the main plot. The plot quietly builds and is intricately woven. Very satisfying and highly recommended.
Sep 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, sci-fi, hispanic
actual rating = 4.5 stars
Lisa Wolf
The Vanished Birds is both lovely and perplexing, a science fiction story about space travel and corporate domination that’s also a deeply personal story about love, identity, and home.

The book opens on what we come to learn is a Resource World owned by the ubiquitous Umbai corporation. At first glance, we’ve arrived in a rural, agricultural community that seems quaint and unsophisticated. The people of the village work in the dhuba fields; their crop is collected once every 15 years by the spac
Aug 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
Under tags because it is an upcoming SFFBC group read.

CWs (view spoiler)

(view spoiler)
I. B.
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. Almos
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Simon Jimenez’s short fiction has appeared in Canyon Voices and 100 Word Story’s anthology of flash fiction, Nothing Short Of. He received his MFA from Emerson College. The Vanished Birds is his first novel.

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“He wanted to warn these children that time was not their friend; that though today might seem special, there would be a tomorrow, and a day after that; that the best-case scenario of a well-spent life was the slow and steady unraveling of the heart’s knot.” 0 likes
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