Jeff VanderMeer – Borne


Beneath all the weirdness; flying bears, feral children, life threatening mega companies, a magician who wants to recreate a better past and a the titular shape shifting creature with tentacles, Borne is, at it’s core, an eco love story.

Rachel and her partner Wick are two survivors on a post apocalyptic land, ravaged by a company which tries to improve mankind but instead has had the opposite effect. When Rachel discovers the creature Borne on the giant bear Mord, the couple’s relationship starts to suffer and when the real danger occurs then Wick and Rachel’s love undergoes some tests and they both find out some secrets behind the country they live in.

Vandermeer does not take the easy route. Borne is complex. Everything links to each other and all the intricacies of the novel start reveal themselves totally to the reader by the end of the novel. Despite the multitude of layers VanderMeer’s writing style is simplistic but oddly poetic, think of Ali Smith, Deborah Levy, Rachel Cusk and Tom McCarthy all rolled into one. This results in a book that is easy to read yet requires time for the plot points to unfold. In fact a reread would help understand some clues that were dropped earlier in the novel.

I have noticed that a good number of reviewers here have trashed Borne for being too weird or a tough read. Personally I did not see that. Yes there are weird moments but I saw them as metaphorical : Mord and his minions represent the future at its worst- tyranny, destruction, brutality, the magician another extreme form (I guess if you really want to be political you could say it’s US Politics Mord=Trump, The Magician = Hilary and Borne = Obama) while Borne is the naive or ideal version of the past while Rachel and Wick are the way ahead – the ending does confirm this. Obviously it’s just my interpretation.

Borne is a novel that can be picked apart in a myriad of ways, so in my books (see what I there) this novel’s a winner.