**A National Post Best Book of the Year**
In a ruined, nameless city of the future, 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 be making creatures and sending 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. When she takes Borne to her subterranean sanctuary, the Balcony Cliffs, she convinces her lover, Wick, a former employee of the Company, not to render Borne down to raw genetic material for the drugs he sells.
Wick is a special kind of supplier; the drug dealers in the city sell tiny creatures that can be swallowed or stuck in the ear to release powerful memories of other people’s happier times, or to pull forgotten memories from the user’s own mind, or to just produce beautiful visions that provide escape from the barren, craterous landscapes of the city.
Searching Wick’s apartment one day, Rachel finds a burnt, unreadable journal titled Mord that cryptically references the Magician, a rival drug dealer, and the Company building. What is Wick hiding? Why won’t he tell her about what happened when he worked for the Company?
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
In a blasted future of bio-engineered monsters and rabid human violence, a scavenger named Rachel meets a blob-like creature who can transform from a giant inverted squid to a pancake-like security blanket and everything in between. It will come as no surprise to his fans that Jeff VanderMeer’s novel is deliriously weird, playful, and unsettling. Borne keeps alive the notion that the best sidekicks—hi, Chewbacca—may not be human, but they remind us that we're decidedly so.
VanderMeer, author of the acclaimed Southern Reach trilogy, has made a career out of eluding genre classifications, and with Borne he essentially invents a new one. In a future strewn with the cast-off experiments of an industrial laboratory known only as the Company, a scavenger named Rachel survives alongside her lover, Wick, a dealer of memory-altering beetles, with whom she takes shelter from the periodic ravages of a giant mutant bear named Mord. One day, caught in Mord's fur, Rachel finds the bizarre, shape-shifting creature "like a hybrid of sea anemone and squid" she calls Borne. Rachel adopts Borne and takes on its education over Wick's objections. But Borne proves a precocious student, experiencing more and more complex transformations, testing Rachel's loyalty as it undertakes a personal mission that threatens Rachel and Wick's fragile existence even as it brings painful truths to the surface truths like Wick's mysterious past with the Company, the identity of the mercurial rival he calls the Magician, the origin of the feral children who roam the wasteland, and even the circumstances of Rachel's own interrupted childhood. Reading like a dispatch from a world lodged somewhere between science fiction, myth, and a video game, the textures of Borne shift as freely as those of the titular whatsit. What's even more remarkable is the reservoirs of feeling that VanderMeer is able to tap into throughout Rachel and Wick's postapocalyptic journey into the Company's warped ruins, resulting in something more than just weird fiction: weird literature.