Book Review: Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer

Dead Astronauts Borne 2 Jeff VanderMeer

Rating:  ★★

I have a very self deprecating sense of humor.  But trust me when I say: it’s no joke that I am neither intelligent enough or creative enough or abstract-thinking enough to appreciate this book.  I don’t want to trash it completely- because I can appreciate this for the literary experiment that it is.  I just don’t know that it’s a literary experiment that works.

VanderMeer can string words together on a page better than most, but hot damn, this was a total slog for me.  It took me longer than I care to admit, to realize this is a non-linear story, and on top of it’s non-linearness it’s also very repetitive in parts.  We explore many different realities and alternative timelines in separate parts, never coming together to add up to anything.

I think this is supposed to be the story of Charlie X, the rise and fall of the Company introduced in Borne.  But if I’m being honest, I don’t remember Charlie X all that well from Borne, and I didn’t think anything about the Company that was revealed really contributed any additional understanding.  I guess the questions I cared about, like what happened to humanity and what was the purpose of the Company, weren’t explored enough in any detail to make me care.

We also don’t get to spend enough time with any of the many characters to grow to care about them.  Astronaut dies.  Astronaut dies.  Astronaut dies again.  Blue fox sneaks in and says some clever foxy stuff.  I just don’t know what the point was.  Maybe for some there doesn’t need to be a point.  For me- there needs to be a point.

If, like me, you were hoping for more of Borne, if you were hoping for an origin story to the villain (villain being the company or the sorceress), I think this is safe to skip.  If you’re looking for something to bend your brain and make you work for it, by all means, pick this up.  The writing is beautiful.  Unfortunately that’s the only thing to leave an impression on me.

Dead Astronauts releases on December 3, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or Amazon.  Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley who sent me an eARC in exchange for a review.

18 thoughts on “Book Review: Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer

  1. Yeah, I have to admit I’m struggling with this too. I really want to finish it but I’ve already put it aside and picked up a different book (“I’ll get back to it!” I say every time I do this…) It’s nothing like Borne, in the respect that Borne was very linear and actually had a story you could grab onto. I’m with you on this one, Sarah, unless a miracle happens!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so relieved to hear that. It’s currently got like a 4 Star rating on good reads and I was thinking I was being crazy. It was just so hard, and if it hadn’t been an ARC I would have quit after a couple chapters. I wouldn’t blame you for DNFing.


  2. I guess with a title like that, we should expect plots points like “Astronaut dies. Astronaut dies. Astronaut dies again.” 😀 This sounds like something young me would have loved. I used to love books that I could read and consider myself part of the “in crowd who got it” even when I didn’t fully grasp the book’s concept.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ola! I’m not going to beat myself up over it. It’s just when it’s an ARC I really wanted and didn’t even think I’d get approved for, I sometimes feel guilty for not liking it more.

      Liked by 1 person

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