Yeah, no kidding, a giant flying bear.

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017. 9780374115241. 336pp.

Vandermeer’s books and stories are, in all senses of the word, weird. They’re also well written, pleasing on a sentence-to-sentence level, and they have a depth that pulls me in. But I’m not sure I could justify any of that in a coherent, English major way without rereading his books >7 times and talking about them for a quarter in a literature class, which is the only way I ever felt like I “got” a play by Shakespeare. (Don’t ask me which. I won’t tell you.) Anyway, Vandermeer’s books are high quality shit, dude.

This one takes place in a city  ruined by biotech produced by the Company. A lot of it has gone feral, including some terrifying creatures that were once children and a giant flying bear called Mord, the boss monster. Rachel is a scavenger, operating from a secret base with her biotech-building lover/partner Wick. One day she finds an anemone/squid-like thing, brings it home, and names it Borne. It starts to eat everything and grow and eventually (I don’t think this is much of a spoiler) to talk. She loves and raises it like a mother, but it learns and grows at a terrifying rate. The whole situation is spooky and strange and then starts to feel dangerous, though throughout it seems like Borne loves Rachel back.

It is the most vivid post-apocalyptic world I’ve read about in a long while. All of the praise on the cover of my galley copy is very vague, and I’m afraid I have to be, too. A more detailed description of what plot there is or the setting or the atmosphere would ruin the book for you. I’m already afraid I’ve said too much.

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