Borne is primarily told as a first person past tense narrative, and boy is this ever quintessential science fiction as I know it. Borne is the story of a small biotech creature that exists as some kind of unknown experiment perhaps created by “The Company” which is a form of government that used to exist. Global warming has wrecked havoc on earth, and many islands are underwater, and biotech experiments have gone haywire. Now that The Company is no longer able to control anything, scavengers are almost all that’s left of the human population. Rachel, Wick, and Borne are the main characters throughout this story, and each have a different history and are working towards different end-games.
Vandermeer’s writing felt slow through the beginning of this novel, but I was so fascinated by the story that I felt compelled to keep reading. By the end, the pace picked up quite a bit. His plot twists felt perfectly timed and made the entire story worth reading. In fact, I would say the pacing was truly the only drawback to this novel. If you’ve ever read Stephen King’s uncut edition of The Stand, you can expect a similar sense of pacing. I almost got to the point where the pacing was too slow that I couldn’t convince myself to pick up the book to start reading. Fortunately I was able to convince myself otherwise, because once I picked up the book I had a hard time putting it down, especially towards the end.
Vandermeer’s world building was awesome, and he tied the world building into the story so effortlessly without detracting from the unfolding plot whatsoever. I love that there was very little introductory period, as the best way to learn is as you go along. I hate when writer’s set me up, as I often forget important details by the time they become necessary.
I especially loved how weird the post-apocalyptic nature of this story was. It felt very different and in a way more hopeful than many of the stories I’ve read that are post-apocalyptic. And have no fear, there are no zombies. More than anything, this book builds on relationships and brings to light how what trust means to people. Interpersonal relationships tend not to be the highlight of post-apocalyptic or dystopian novels that I’ve read, and I appreciate that aspect. I often turn to memoirs and young adult when I’m seeking interpersonal relationship fixes, and this book fulfilled that need for sure.
I haven’t read any of Vandermeer’s other books, but rather picked this book up on a whim after listening to Liberty and Rebecca’s All The Books podcast. I was attracted to it’s quirkiness, and I was not disappointed.