Reviews > Published on April 25th, 2017

Bookshots: 'Borne' by Jeff VanderMeer

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review



Who wrote it?

Jeff VanderMeer, author of the the Southern Reach trilogy. Alex Garland (Ex Machina) is adapting the first novel from said trilogy, Annihilation, into a feature film starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Gina Rodriguez.

Plot in a box:

I instantly fell in love with 'Borne,' and also Borne the character, and I’ve no doubt in my mind you will as well.

A woman named Rachel mothers a strange and wonderful sea anemone discovered in the fur of a giant flying bear that routinely terrorizes her city.

Invent a new title for this book:


Read this if you like(d):

Books about giant fucking bears tearing shit up.

Meet the book’s lead(s):

Rachel, a scavenger who discovers Borne.

Wick, a scientist who’s also Rachel’s partner and lover.

Borne - Borne is Borne. I could never describe Borne with justice. Read the book.

Said leads would be portrayed in a movie by:

Rachel - Mackenzie Davis (Halt and Catch Fire)

Wick - Scoot McNairy (Also from Halt and Catch Fire)

Borne - This would require voice only, with the actual physical representation being some sort of CGI. Voice-wise, I really want to say H. Jon Benjamin just because imagining it is making me laugh a whole lot, but no, he would be a terrible choice. I don’t know who would be good. Someone kinda childlike almost. Maybe Donald Glover?

Setting: Would you want to live there?

A desolate city being terrorized by bears and mutated children? Only if I can be a bear.

What was your favorite sentence?

Incredible, how a slip could become a freefall and a freefall could become a hell where we lived on as ghosts in a haunted world.

The Verdict:

I picked up this book expecting something completely different than what I read, but I was not left disappointed. At its heart, Borne is a story about motherhood. How far mothers will go to protect their children. How a mother’s life changes for the better, and for worse, as she adapts to this new creature, this new person. It’s also a story about identity, about what makes a person a person. Have you ever stopped and truly considered it? If not, Borne will definitely get the contemplations rolling inside that little noggin of yours.

This book falls under the same category as movies like The Iron Giant and E.T. Although, instead of a child taking care of an alien or robot, we have a badass woman tending to...something unnatural, but also, at the same time, more natural than anything that’s ever existed. Plus, as previously mentioned, there’s a giant fucking bear tearing shit up. As usual, VanderMeer’s worldbuilding is concrete, and to read this book is to take a small vacation into another world.

I instantly fell in love with Borne, and also Borne the character, and I’ve no doubt in my mind you will as well.

This is a must-read.

Get Borne at Bookshop or Amazon

About the author

Max Booth III is the CEO of Ghoulish Books, the host of the GHOULISH and Dog Ears podcasts, the co-founder of the Ghoulish Book Festival, and the author of several spooky books, including Abnormal Statistics, Maggots Screaming!, Touch the Night, and others. He wrote both the novella and film versions of We Need to Do Something, which was released by IFC Midnight in 2021 and can currently be streamed on Hulu. He was raised in Northwest Indiana and now lives in San Antonio.

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