The Strange Bird sees Jeff VanderMeer return to the world that spawned Borne, crafting a novella from the point of view of a piece of Company biotech. The story follows its eponymous bird, who escapes from the laboratory in which she was built. Once in the outside world, she cannot connect with other wildlife and struggles to know which humans she can trust in a landscape destroyed by technology and the people that created it.
Everything added to her and everything taken away had led to that
moment and from her perch she had radiated love for every animal
she could not help, with nothing left over any human being.
Not even in the parts of her that were human herself.
Borne was my favourite read of the OWLs Magical Readathon, and one of my favourites of this year so far. I was really excited when I discovered that VanderMeer had returned to this world in The Strange Bird. There are interesting new characters introduced as the strange bird tries to navigate her new freedom, but we also revisit old friends too. We briefly glimpse characters from Borne, such as Rachel and Wick, but it’s The Magician who we see the most of. The Magician actually becomes a major part of the strange bird’s life, and we see inside her inner sanctum. Eventually, the narrative collides with that of Borne to show the reader a different angle of the story.
As usual, VanderMeer manages to create a world that is as bleak as it is beautiful. His writing is so rich that it’s easy to become completely immersed in his stories. Despite the short length of The Strange Bird, this book is no different. The strange bird’s journey is haunting and heartbreaking, but I loved how it coalesced with the story I first read in Borne. My only wish is that VanderMeer would write more about this magnificent but brutal world.
Rating: 5 / 5 stars
Read for the NEWTs Magical Readathon. Class: Divination. Grade: E.