Jeff VanderMeer: Dead Astronauts (Paperback, 2020, Picador) 4 stars

It's Good, But Caveats

5 stars

This book reaffirmed my suspicion that I enjoy abstract unimaginable prose to direct linear storytelling. If that's not something you're in for, we'll unfortunately you've made it this far in the Borne series.

I would say Borne is great as a standalone and doesn't need any of the other two books. Strange Bird adds a heart breaking and beautiful layer of nuance to the world and makes for a great Duology. Dead Astronauts does for me what Strange Bird did, yet I really can relate to why there are so many that this book didn't click for. I've never read something that required so much heavy lifting to really integrate and engage with, and that's with reading all three books back to back in a short period of time. The effort was well rewarded in my opinion, but I feel compelled to warn potential readers that enjoyment feels predicated on a willingness to dive in deep. I feel like a re-read of the whole series is still in order to make all of the connections, and for many that's not a proposition of a good time.

This feels especially true since the books progress in weirdness more rapidly than Vandermeers other series. Area X feels like a traditional slow burn of escalation, Ambergris felt like steady ratcheting with a sharp descent near the end, and Borne starts weirder and quickly ramps up with each book.

Hopefully this helps?