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Monday, April 5, 2021

Hummingbird Salamander Review



Official Author Website
Order Hummingbird Salamander over HERE(USA) or HERE(UK)


OFFICIAL AUTHOR INFORMATION: VanderMeer was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, but spent much of his childhood in the Fiji Islands, where his parents worked for the Peace Corps. This experience, and the resulting trip back to the United States through Asia, Africa, and Europe, deeply influenced him.

Jeff is married to Ann VanderMeer, who is currently an acquiring editor at Tor.com and has won the Hugo Award and World Fantasy Award for her editing of magazines and anthologies. They live in Tallahassee, Florida, with two cats and thousands of books.

FORMAT/INFO: Hummingbird Salamander published April 6, 2021 with MCD. Page count - 309 pages. 

OVERWIEW: A thriller by Jeff VanderMeer? Hell yes! The author, intriguing premise and stunning cover made it one of my most anticipated novels of 2021. On one level, Hummingbird Salamander is a thriller about a security expert who gives her name only as “Jane” and who informs readers she’ll show them how the world ends. On another, it shows how climate change transforms us and our environments. It’s not an easy read; it has a lot of moving pieces and the labyrinthine plot requires focus and patience.

Jane won’t use her real name for a reason, but does it matter? She’s no one. Someone leading an ordinary life until an unexpected gift from a dead woman turns everything upside down. The envelope she receives in a coffee bar contains a storage unit address, a key, and a note. She can’t resist and opens the locker containing a preserved hummingbird, the last of its kind, and a note with the words Hummingbird and Salamander, signed Silvina. Silvina Vilcacampa, the ecoterrorist. Jane becomes obsessed with discovering her whereabouts and fate.

This, however, alarms mysterious and powerful foes who attack Jane and her co-workers. They force her to abandon her husband and teenage daughter and flee. But even then, Jane won’t stop before she discovers the truth. Antagonists include almost unkillable psychos and powerful people engaged in the exotic wildlife smuggling. VanderMeer plays with readers’ expectations, provides plenty of thrills and moments of dark humor.

I loved the world and the writing. Short sentences gave a sense of urgency and got directly to the point. I found the plot intriguing, but also confusing. The book felt fresh. The author wraps up almost everything near the end. However, the ending itself lacks closure. While I appreciate the ideas, I didn’t care about characters. Jane had a very minimalist way of expressing herself, and it made her difficult to relate to. She does a lot of things, but it takes time to understand why. The reasons why everyone tries to kill everyone remain unclear for most of the story. There’s also more than a bit of (expected) preaching.

Hummingbird Salamander is surprising and suspenseful, but more cerebral than emotional. The denseness of the material requires focus and patience. Readers interested in challenging themselves will find plenty of thrills (and challenges) here; those who prefer clearer narratives and relatable characters will find them elsewhere.

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