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Borne (Paperback)

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(SciFi and Fantasy)

Staff Reviews

Borne introduces us to Rachel, a scavenger, and Wick, her partner-in-survival and a biotech engineer. Rachel and Wick scrape together a life in a ruined city suffering under the tyranny of a giant bear, a Magician hungry for power, and the shadow of the collapsed Company and its failed biotech experiments. But Rachel changes everything when she brings home Borne. Found on a scavenging trip, Borne is maybe a plant, maybe an animal, but is definitely one of the more interesting characters that I've ever met. As Borne grows, Rachel and Wick are forced to ask deeper questions - of each other, of their world, of power and love and agency and of their own sense of identity. I was struck by the vulnerability carried by these characters against such a bleak world. At its heart, this novel grapples with what, to me, are the most meaningful questions to be explored in fiction: What makes us human? And how do we keep hold of this humanity in a world that tries to take it from us? This book is going to stick with me for a long time. 

— From Kelsey's Picks


Named one of the best books of 2017 by The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, PopSugar, Financial Times, Chicago Review of Books, Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Thrillist, Book Riot, National Post (Canada), Kirkus and Publishers Weekly

"Am I a person?" Borne asked me.
"Yes, you are a person," I told him. "But like a person, you can be a weapon, too."

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.

About the Author

Jeff VanderMeer is an award-winning novelist and editor, and the author most recently of the New York Times bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy. His fiction has been translated into twenty languages and has appeared in the Library of America's American Fantastic Tales and multiple year's-best anthologies. He grew up in the Fiji Islands and now lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with his wife.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780374537654
ISBN-10: 0374537658
Publisher: MCD
Publication Date: February 27th, 2018
Pages: 368
Language: English