Series: Borne #1
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux (4.25.2017)
Genres: Adult, Science Fiction
Format: Audiobook, 323 pages
Length: 12 hours, 10 minutes
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
In a ruined, nameless city of the future, a woman named 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 make creatures and send 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. She feels an attachment she resents; attachments are traps, and in this world any weakness can kill you. Yet when she takes Borne to her subterranean sanctuary, the Balcony Cliffs, Rachel convinces her lover, Wick, not to render Borne down to raw genetic material for the drugs he sells—she cannot break that bond.
Wick is a special kind of supplier, because the drug dealers in the city don’t sell the usual things. They sell tiny creatures that can be swallowed or stuck in the ear, and that release powerful memories of other people’s happier times or pull out forgotten memories from the user’s own mind—or just produce beautiful visions that provide escape from the barren, craterous landscapes of the city.
Against his better judgment, out of affection for Rachel or perhaps some other impulse, Wick respects her decision. Rachel, meanwhile, despite her loyalty to Wick, knows he has kept secrets from her. Searching his apartment, she finds a burnt, unreadable journal titled “Mord,” a cryptic reference to the Magician (a rival drug dealer) and evidence that Wick has planned the layout of the Balcony Cliffs to match the blueprint of the Company building. What is he hiding? Why won’t he tell her about what happened when he worked for the Company?
I hadn’t heard of this book before until I was searching for books narrated by Bahni Turpin (one of my fave narrators!) and this popped up. It sounded intriguing…and it was! It was a weird but fascinating read, unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I never read Annihilation, but I did see the movie, and it was also weird AF but also interesting and unusual. I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style, but the premise is so unique that I would definitely be open to picking up more of VanderMeer’s works in the future!
The world of Borne was really cool and so was Borne himself (itself?). I liked the post-apocalyptic cybernetic world with its ecological and technological mash up. I wish there had been a lot more world building, because we never got much information on it and things were a bit vague. I found Borne to be fascinating, and enjoyed the bond between Borne and Rachel, but I didn’t care about Wick at all. Or his relationship with Rachel.
Writing style: 3/5
Overall rating: 3.5/5
Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater
Published by Disney Publishing Worldwide (4.1.2022)
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Format: Audiobook, 367 pages
Length: 9 hours, 41 minutes
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham
What if you had one year to save everything you loved?
ONE PRINCESS. Merida of DunBroch needs a change. She loves her family—jovial King Fergus, proper Queen Elinor, the mischievous triplets— and her peaceful kingdom. But she’s frustrated by its sluggishness; each day, the same. Merida longs for adventure, purpose, challenge – maybe even, someday, love.
TWO GODS. But the fiery Princess never expects her disquiet to manifest by way of Feradach, an uncanny supernatural being tasked with rooting out rot and stagnation, who appears in DunBroch on Christmas Eve with the intent to demolish the realm – and everyone within. Only the intervention of the Cailleach, an ancient entity of creation, gives Merida a shred of hope: convince her family to change within the year – or suffer the eternal consequences.
THREE VOYAGES. Under the watchful eyes of the gods, Merida leads a series of epic journeys to kingdoms near and far in an attempt to inspire revolution within her family. But in her efforts to save those she loves from ruin, has Merida lost sight of the Clan member grown most stagnant of all – herself?
FOUR SEASONS TO SAVE DUNBROCH – OR SEE IT DESTROYED, FOREVER.
I love Maggie Stiefvater, I love Brave, and I also love Fiona Hardingham; so when I saw this audiobook I requested it from my library immediately! Unfortunately, it was just okay, maybe even a little meh. Which is disappointing AF. It was a cute, quick & easy read, but it was most definitely Middle Grade. This is the most bland and juvenile Maggie book I’ve ever read. It was fun to dive back into the world of Brave, because I love Scottish culture, but it wasn’t very exciting or memorable. The main thing I remember is the little bit of romance it had going on, which I personally wasn’t a fan of. It was more companionable than romantic, but don’t think it fit Merida at all. I also found the characters to be bland and lacking any depth.
Overall, I was pretty bored with this story other than the lovely culture and Fiona’s fantastic narrating. If I had been physically reading this book, I’m pretty sure I would have DNFed. Fiona Hardingham saved this book for me.
Writing style: 2.5/5
Overall rating: 2.5/5
Shades of Rust and Ruin by A.G. Howard
Series: Shades of Rust and Ruin #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's (9.6.2022)
Genres: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook, 400 pages
Length: 11 hours, 47 minutes
Narrator: Jordan Claire McCraw
Phoenix “Nix” Loring knows her family is under a Halloween curse. When she was three, her parents tragically died on October 31st. Eleven years later, her twin sister Lark suffered a similar fate.
Ever since, Nix has battled survivor guilt. She can't even find comfort in Clarey, Lark's boyfriend and the one person who understands her pain, because Nix's hidden feelings for him go far beyond friendship. All that remains are her sketches, where she finds solace among the goblins and faeries in her imaginary world of Mystiquel. When her depression starts affecting her ability to see color, Nix all but gives up on her art, until her uncle goes missing on Halloween day. Hot on his trail, Nix and Clarey step through a portal, becoming trapped inside a decaying version of their town filled with Nix's own sketches come to life.
As Nix and Clarey search for her uncle within the sinister and dangerous world of Mystiquel, Nix discovers there's more to her family curse and otherworldly artwork than she ever imagined-and unless she can solve the Goblin King's maze before the clock strikes midnight, her life won't be the only one the curse claims next.
This isn’t my least favorite Howard book (that honor goes to RoseBlood), but it wasn’t nearly as good as Stain (one of my all time faves), or Splintered. The world was super unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read before – Howard is good at writing those kinds of books – but I wish I had enjoyed it more than I did.
I really enjoyed the dark, atmospheric setting with steampunk elements. The world and lore are where this book shines! However, otherwise, I wasn’t super into this one. It took a while to get interesting, and there were plenty of times where I was bored. I didn’t forge any kind of emotional connection to the story or the characters. Overall, this book was just okay for me, and because I expected more I ended up disappointed.
Writing style: 3.5/5
Overall rating: 3/5