Jeff VanderMeer's "THE STRANGE BIRD: A BORNE STORY"
A book review by Dennis D. McDonald
The post-apocalyptic world of the author’s Borne novel provides the setting for Strange Bird. We follow the trials and tribulations of Strange Bird as she flies, guided by her internal compass, on her search for a distant but forgotten — or perhaps never really remembered — destination.
Strange Bird is herself an amalgam of human and animal origin as wrought by the terrible genetic technologies introduced in Borne. She flies over an ecologically blasted post war hell where the remnants of human civilization and its technologies battle for survival against the elements and each other.
Her flight is not without mishap. She finds yourself in a struggle with some of the same evils described in Borne. This being Jeff VanderMeer of Southern Reach fame we are treated to a thoughtful but weird stream of consciousness narration as Strange Bird travels, thinks, is captured, and is treated with horrible cruelty. Yet she survives – albeit in altered form -- as we learn more about her origins and about what happened to the scientists that created her.
Throughout the novel we hear her thoughts as she struggles to understand her creation, the reason for her existence, and where she is going. Strange Bird’s personality is distantly reminiscent of the human character transformations in the Southern Reach trilogy although the “perpetrators” here are human, not alien.
Not everything is tied up with a neat bow at the end. I suspect that’s what author VanderMeer intended.
Review copyright © 2019 by Dennis D. McDonald