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Publisher's Summary

In Borne, a young woman named Rachel survives as a scavenger in a ruined city half destroyed by drought and conflict. The city is dangerous, littered with discarded experiments from the Company - a biotech firm now derelict - and punished by the unpredictable predations of a giant bear. Rachel ekes out an existence in the shelter of a run-down sanctuary she shares with her partner, Wick, who deals his own homegrown psychoactive biotech.
One day, Rachel finds Borne during a scavenging mission and takes him home. Borne as salvage is little more than a green lump - plant or animal? - but exudes a strange charisma. Borne reminds Rachel of the marine life from the island nation of her birth, now lost to rising seas. There is an attachment she resents: in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet, against her instincts - and definitely against Wick's wishes - Rachel keeps Borne. She cannot help herself. Borne, learning to speak, learning about the world, is fun to be with, and in a world so broken that innocence is a precious thing. For Borne makes Rachel see beauty in the desolation around her. She begins to feel a protectiveness she can ill afford.
"He was born, but I had borne him."
But as Borne grows, he begins to threaten the balance of power in the city and to put the security of her sanctuary with Wick at risk. For the Company, it seems, may not be truly dead, and new enemies are creeping in. What Borne will lay bare to Rachel as he changes is how precarious her existence has been, and how dependent on subterfuge and secrets. In the aftermath, nothing may ever be the same.
©2017 Jeff VanderMeer (P)2017 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Guitarist of the Midwest on 07-13-17

Rough Narrator

I loved the weirdness and concept, but parts of the third act stumbled. The narrator is bland and monotone, I wish someone more lively had read something so whimsical.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Books, Vertigo and Tea on 02-08-18

Bizarre and Bracing!

Borne is a complicated experience that will likely land readers on one of two sides of the fence; love or hate. For myself, I fell onto the “love” side with a heavy landing. Although, with my constant appetite for the peculiar, I cannot say I am surprised.

The Company lies at the edge of the city, where while known to be almost defunct, many still believe continues to create. One such creation, Mord (a bio-engineered bear) flies above the city where he was once created, held captured and ultimately tortured. Now he reigns havoc on the land while also providing a way of life for scavengers, such as Rachel, who survive off of the remnants of Mord’s destruction. Upon discovering a small green, gelatinous blob (Borne) snared within his fur, she makes the decision to bring the creature home into her safe haven shared with her only companion Wick. He happens to be a drug dealer, developing tiny creatures who have the ability to give others more desirable memories, and he immediately wants to dissect Borne to experiment with his genetic composition. However, Rachel develops an attachment and refuses to surrender her newfound discovery, much against Wick’s advice. But as Borne begins to evolve, secrets also begin to surface. Secrets about Wick and the Company he once worked for. The same company responsible for Mord. What is it that he cannot tell Rachel? And what is Borne?

Attempting summarize Borne in a paragraph feels like a ridiculous and almost impossible task. As you may have noticed, it is not easy to do. I am sifting through the many notes I acquired during my listen (read) and trying to reduce this review into a more digestible and compact recap of my time with Vandermeer’s very original, and often odd approach to an ultimately endearing and emotional dystopian tale.

In terms of character growth there is an enormous amount happening, but in the most subtle of ways. Rachel begins to bond with Borne over her own loneliness and desire for something more in a desolate and harsh environment. But in turn, we soon discover that Borne is the one who truly encompasses that loneliness. There is a brilliant exchange of developments, realizations and acceptance that is continually occurring between both, supplying the reader with a very unique and profound form of character development that is rarely seen. As Rachel’s relationship with Borne evolves it slowly begins to challenge her relationship with Wick, bringing multiple questions to the surface, further exploring all characters. And tucked within it all, we learn that everyone is grappling with various issues of self-identity and acceptance.

The setting is typical of many dystopian tales in the sense of the usual suspects: imminent dangers, the fight for survival and a barren landscape that requires daily scavenging and roaming. All of the expected threats and dis-pleasantries are offered with the additional element of bio-engineered life forms. The effect is intriguing and inviting, but not in the warm, fuzzy sort of way.

But the real appreciation for Borne can be found in its strangely contrasting narration that manages to present the often harsh and brutal reality of a post apocalyptic setting in an almost child-like and innocent manner. There is an ever-present air of light-heartedness that should clash with the current setting and events, yet it successfully fuels a rare and welcomed study of humanity and the significance of its small presence on Earth. Accompanied with Bahni Turpin’s well paced and enthusiastic narration, it becomes something of great worth in terms of science fiction. I was convinced this story was written to be told by Turpin.

The final product is a bizarre and bracing take on a timeless tale that will not be for everyone’s taste. However, there will be those that cannot help but find delight and fascination between the pages, making it an instant favorite. I am happy to fall well within the latter group. Highly recommending that you give this one a chance!

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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