Borne by Jeff Vandermeer (Audiobook)

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Borne
By Jeff Vandermeer
Narrated by Bahni Turpin
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Unabridged: 12 Hr & 10 Minutes
ASIN: B06ZXTH9RF
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia

Synopsis:

In a ruined, nameless city of the future, a woman named Rachel, who makes her living as a scavenger, finds a creature she names “Borne” entangled in the fur of Mord, a gigantic, despotic bear. Mord once prowled the corridors of the biotech organization known as the Company, which lies at the outskirts of the city, until he was experimented on, grew large, learned to fly and broke free. Driven insane by his torture at the Company, Mord terrorizes the city even as he provides sustenance for scavengers like Rachel.

At first, Borne looks like nothing at all—just a green lump that might be a Company discard. The Company, although severely damaged, is rumoured to still make creatures and send them to distant places that have not yet suffered Collapse.

Borne somehow reminds Rachel of the island nation of her birth, now long-lost to rising seas. She feels an attachment she resents; attachments are traps, and in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet when she takes Borne to her subterranean sanctuary, the Balcony Cliffs, Rachel convinces her lover, Wick, not to render Borne down to raw genetic material for the drugs he sells—she cannot break that bond.

Wick is a special kind of supplier, because the drug dealers in the city don’t sell the usual things. They sell tiny creatures that can be swallowed or stuck in the ear, and that release powerful memories of other people’s happier times or pull out forgotten memories from the user’s own mind—or just produce beautiful visions that provide escape from the barren, craterous landscapes of the city.

Against his better judgment, out of affection for Rachel or perhaps some other impulse, Wick respects her decision. Rachel, meanwhile, despite her loyalty to Wick, knows he has kept secrets from her. Searching his apartment, she finds a burnt, unreadable journal titled “Mord,” a cryptic reference to the Magician (a rival drug dealer) and evidence that Wick has planned the layout of the Balcony Cliffs to match the blueprint of the Company building. What is he hiding? Why won’t he tell her about what happened when he worked for the Company?


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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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Enjoyed with several cups of green tea and mint.

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Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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Thunderhead (Arc of the Scythe 2) by Neal Shusterman ~ Buddy Read

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Thunderhead (Arc of the Scythe 2) 
By Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
ISBN13: 9781442472457
Pages: 504
Genre: YA Sci-Fi/Dystopian

Synopsis:

Rowan and Citra take opposite stances on the morality of the Scythedom, putting them at odds, in the second novel of the chilling New York Times bestselling series from Neal Shusterman, author of the Unwind dystology.

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?


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This was a buddy read with Debby @AlwaysBooking. We co-read and reviewed Scythe (Arc of Scythe 1) last year, so picking up Thunderhead was a no-brainer. We have stuck with the traditional format of 5 questions each and our final thoughts. IYou read Debby’s final thoughts here. As with all sequels, we try to avoid potential spoilers, but I recommend holding off until having read the first book.

Debby’s Responses to My Questions:

1. In terms of growth (without spoilers) did you feel that Shusterman successfully expanded on existing characters? Where you satisfied with their progress?
YES!!  A thousand times yes, I cannot get enough of these characters…they are definitely evolving throughout this series.  There are things about these characters as they evolve that test them as Scythes and as humans.


2. There was increased focus  on a few scythes that while present in book one, are now a primary part of the plot. How did you feel about this development in events?

I felt it was very much-needed, the focus on the new scythes gave us different points of view we didn’t have in book one.  We needed these view points for many aspects of book two.

3. Thunderhead gives us further insight into the actual Thunderhead and the purpose it serves. How did this effect your experience with the plot and characters?
It actually terrified me, I’m really trying not give away spoilers. So I think I’ll leave it at that…

4. Again, without spoilers, what felt significantly different when comparing your experience with Scythe & Thunderhead, if anything?
Scythe was the set up for all the emotional turmoil and plot twists of Thunderhead… uh did I spoil anything?

5. Were there any aspects of the book that you struggled with (good or bad)?
I don’t think there were any bad points for me.  The plot twists for me where hard to handle, some things happened that actually made me cry in this book.  I don’t want to give anything away…

My Responses to Debby’s:

1. Holy plot twists batman!!  Did you guess any of those plot twists??????
There were a few moments when I thought I had certain events figured out, but then Shusterman would successfully slip in at least one major element that would completely catch me off guard. Throughout the whole book, I can honestly (and happily) admit to only predicting one portion of the plot completely. I love the nonstop bends and turns Thunderhead takes the reader through! It made for an incredibly fast paced read.

2. Since we both seemed to have favorites in the first book as far as characters, I was wondering if your favorite has changed???
My favoritism did waiver some. Maybe not completely shift, but character actions did have some influence on my pre-established feelings. I cannot elaborate without divulging spoilers though!

3. There are new characters added into book 2, How did you feel about the addition of the new character(s)?
They were a welcomed addition and necessary. I had approached Thunderhead with a bit of apprehension in terms of trying to understand how Shusterman was going to expand on the existing story, but a large portion of that was addressed through the new characters. They provided a fantastic new layer of depth!

4. These characters just keep evolving to more heights than I could imagine.  Which character do you think evolved the most? 
I am inclined to say that character development was pretty equal and well-balanced throughout. I particularly enjoyed Citra’s growth, but each character’s evolution felt incredibly significant.

5. Will you be pre-ordering the 3rd book when available???
Are you kidding?! With that ending, how can you even ask? I need book three immediately!  I think that was one of the most intense endings I have ever encountered.


My Final Thoughts..

I entered into Thunderhead with a mix of high expectations and hesitation. Scythe sets a pretty high bar in terms of YA Dystopian books, and as most of you know, it is one of my favorite genres. It was hard to imagine Shusterman successfully evolving and expanding what already felt so complete and original. I was at a loss for what direction this plot-line could possibly take at this point.

Not only has he managed to accomplish all of the above, but improved on it. With the substantial growth of existing characters and the welcomed addition of a few new, the plot takes many rewarding and unexpected turns that once again, deliver an original experience that leaves the reader craving more.

Incredible pacing, make for an effortless read with an ending that leaves its hooks deep in you, begging for a third installment. A must for dystopian fans!

Untitled design Enjoyed with a nice cuppa English Breakfast.

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Purchase Links: Amazon.com Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

Connect With Me: FacebookTwitterTumblr and Instagram

Friday Favorites: Welcome to Dystopia

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites is a post where I incorporate more of what I love into the blog. This includes films, anime, manga, music, you name it. Anything goes.  It will be an opportunity to share some of the things I love and discuss them briefly or in length, depending on my mood 😉

Welcome to Dystopia:
We hope you enjoy your stay!

 

metropolis.gifThis week I am taking a look at a favorite theme of mine, dystopian settings and stories. Ever since a young age, I have been strangely attracted to tales of Utopia gone awry. Finding an odd sort of joy in reading and watching terrifyingly, often totalitarian and post-apocalyptic environments play out. While these imaginings are inarguably unpleasant, they also offer an often uncanny and raw observance of humanity that appeals to me on a multiple levels. Be it film, books or even graphic novels, I never pass up the chance to explore well constructed dystopian story. I simply never tire of them.

Types of Dystopian Settings

  • Technological Advances
  • Totalitarian governments/Censorship
  • Nuclear/Natural Disasters/Disease
  • Corporate Control/Media
  • Survival

And many more! There are endless possibilities and scenarios in which humanity fights for survival and to regain a foothold. The above just happen to be a few of my favorites. So today I have compiled a glance of a few books and films I have discovered contain some of the most rewarding dystopian settings and themes.

My Favorite Dystopian Books

 

Favorite Dystopian Films


 

About that List Though..

The above are only a mere fraction of the dystopian themed novels and films you can find in my collection. I had contemplated really breaking this post down and categorizing them all, but the list would have been longer than anyone would care to read because I ❤ all things dystopia!

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Do you enjoy the genre/theme? What is it that you like or dislike about it? Maybe I failed to cover one of your favorite dystopian scenarios. Share some of your prefered books and films with me. I would love to discover some new series or reads to explore.

Lets Chat!

Danielle ❤

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