Borne: The Borne Series, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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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|Listening Length||12 hours and 10 minutes|
|Audible.ca Release Date||August 25 2020|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #27,882 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#156 in Dystopian Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#351 in Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#932 in Dystopian Science Fiction (Books)
Top reviews from Canada
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Under the rip-roaring adventure, oozing with weird creations and narrow escapes, this book is about relationships. How they swell, disintegrate, evolve, transform - much like Borne himself. We have the relationship between a mother and child, between lovers, between enemies once friends.
As others have mentioned, this is more straightforward than Annihilation. The book is cut into three parts, which mark Borne’s stages in evolution, and perhaps the stages of motherhood. Rachel deals with infancy, adolescents, and empty-nest-syndrome, while Borne grows and grows and grows.
Everything here has purpose, even the most obscure bio tech, so I applaud Vandermeer for wasting no narrative space.
I found some sections overwritten, others underwritten.
The writing in Annihilation is more concise. Take for example, the opening sentence: “The tower, which was not supposed to be there, plunges into the earth in a place just before the black pine forest begins to give way to swamp and then the reeds and wind-gnarled trees of the marsh flats.”
Whereas Borne contains quite a few modifiers and extended similes: “I found Borne on a sunny gunmetal day...” “...clinging to Mord’s fur like a half-closed stranded sea anemone.” For the most part this works, but some readers have reported being thrown off. Personally, the passages I loved made up for the few I glossed over.
There is a certain fight between two characters near the end that begins and ends in a single line of text. I was hoping for more conflict here and wondered why Vandermeer didn’t put his descriptive prowess to work. Maybe I’m missing the point. An earlier battle scene, between a giant bear called Mord and “the Magician” was brilliantly executed and left me hungry for more. Here, the character’s watch a large-scale conflict from a distant tower, a device which allows the author to zoom in and out of the battle, much like in a film. I reread this section multiple times.
Annihilation was more to my taste — the prose, the psychology, the abstraction, the sublime. But Borne is a solid stand-alone novel, perhaps further bridging the gap between the mainstream and the slipstream. I hope this inspires new readers to delve into the world of weird fiction.
It features terrifying genetically engineered creatures in a dystopian, post apocalypse future. The heroine, a regular human, lives a hidden dangerous life, living in a secret cave type complex, scavenging at night for food and supplies. She discovers and adopts a small mollusclike, genetically engineered creature, who starts to grow.....and grow, physically and mentally! What is his purpose? Is he friend or foe?!
I thoroughly enjoyed this yarn!
Top reviews from other countries
Into such a dystopian setting, VanderMeer introduces an amorphous creature Rachel finds nested in Mord’s fur on one of her scavenging expeditions, and which she names Borne (inspired by Wick’s reminiscing about a creature he had created as a biotech engineer with the Company, “He was born, but I had borne him”). Possibly a plant/animal/mineral combination or none of these, Rachel becomes obsessed with taking care of him as he grows and begins to show human intelligence, and the rest of the novel seeks to examine the philosophical question of what makes a human being human, in the midst of the horror of the city, as they defend themselves from mutated children and other Mord proxies, smaller versions of Mord (which I pictured as monster Care Bears for some reason) and the ominous Magician who seems to have a hold over Wick, and his secrets that he had taken with him from the now-defunct Company, a corporate biotech lab with their Frankenstein creations running amok, and as Rachel pieces together for the reader parts of her past and how she came to become who she is.
Like the Southern Reach Trilogy for which he is best known, VanderMeer’s forte is in his brand of psychological horror (though there’s also a fair bit of blood, gore and violence in this novel) and the unconventional choice of words and phrases that somehow reveal the uncanny in the most profound way. However, as much as his writing captivates, Rachel’s maternal relationship with Borne and how that complicates things with Wick, which supposedly drives the plot, did not much move me.