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Borne
Cover of Borne
Borne
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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About the Author-
  • Jeff VanderMeer is an award-winning novelist and editor. His fiction has been translated into twenty languages and has appeared in the Library of America's American Fantastic Tales and in multiple anthologies. VanderMeer also writes for the Guardian, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times Book Review, among others. He grew up in the Fiji Islands and now lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with his wife.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from February 6, 2017
    VanderMeer, author of the acclaimed Southern Reach trilogy, has made a career out of eluding genre classifications, and with Borne he essentially invents a new one. In a future strewn with the cast-off experiments of an industrial laboratory known only as the Company, a scavenger named Rachel survives alongside her lover, Wick, a dealer of memory-altering beetles, with whom she takes shelter from the periodic ravages of a giant mutant bear named Mord. One day, caught in Mord’s fur, Rachel finds the bizarre, shape-shifting creature “like a hybrid of sea anemone and squid” she calls Borne. Rachel adopts Borne and takes on its education over Wick’s objections. But Borne proves a precocious student, experiencing more and more complex transformations, testing Rachel’s loyalty as it undertakes a personal mission that threatens Rachel and Wick’s fragile existence even as it brings painful truths to the surface—truths like Wick’s mysterious past with the Company, the identity of the mercurial rival he calls the Magician, the origin of the feral children who roam the wasteland, and even the circumstances of Rachel’s own interrupted childhood. Reading like a dispatch from a world lodged somewhere between science fiction, myth, and a video game, the textures of Borne shift as freely as those of the titular whatsit. What’s even more remarkable is the reservoirs of feeling that VanderMeer is able to tap into throughout Rachel and Wick’s postapocalyptic journey into the Company’s warped ruins, resulting in something more than just weird fiction: weird literature.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Bahni Turpin brings a haunting melancholy to VanderMeer's enormous weird world, transforming what initially seems an outlandish dystopian tale into a deeply personal journey. In a ruined and polluted city persecuted by a vicious giant bear, Rachel survives by scavenging--which is how she first discovers "Borne." As Borne begins to grow, move, and learn to speak, Rachel begins to care for him more than she should--especially when the real danger that Borne poses becomes chillingly clear. Though she manages this challenging narrative with aplomb, Turpin doesn't differentiate between characters, so the dialogue can be difficult to follow. She manages, however, to build a palpable and audible bond between Rachel and Borne that makes this story gripping, unsettling, and thoroughly memorable. B.E.K. � AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine
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Jeff VanderMeer
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