Book Review: The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

Rating:  ★★★★1/2

This book is so difficult to put into words.  The blurb isn’t inaccurate, but at the same time I feel like it doesn’t do a great job of conveying how brilliant this story really is.  Nia Imani is captain of a space crew, transporting goods for Allied Space.  The problem is, they travel by what is called pocket space, eight months for her is the equivalent of fifteen years planet side.  She watches her friends’ and lovers’ lifetimes go by in just a few short years.  We also follow Fukimo Nakajima, the woman responsible for saving humanity and launching everyone into space.  Finally, we have Ahro, a mysterious boy with a traumatic past.

This is largely a character driven book.  The plot meanders from different places and view points, exploring the relationships between characters and how the choices they make effect them.  Some choices we regret, some we can’t let go, and others are bittersweet.  Could you choose one family at the expense of another?

One thing I loved about this book was the setting.  If you’re looking for a sprawling intergalactic adventure, this is a good place to look.  We visit farming worlds with purple skies, bustling high tech cities, abandoned planets overrun with dogs, the list goes on (though I will add, most time is spent on the ship between worlds). I was always excited to see where the crew was going and who they’d meet next.

In part three, the plot shifts in a big way.  Where the book was previously content to take it’s time, suddenly every scene is filled with nail biting tension. You don’t know if the characters you’ve grown to love and spent all this time with will live, and if they do, how damaged they’ll come out on the other side.

This was a big point of contention for my friend the Captain @ The Captain’s Quarters (her review can be found here).  It didn’t work for her and I completely understand why. The last third doesn’t feel like the rest of the book.

That being said- I didn’t mind the plot shift.  I felt like the book had become very comfortable in part two and part three brought some much needed conflict to the story.  I am also very accustomed to books like this so maybe I half expected it.  Where I agree with her, is that the ending was mildly unsatisfying.  I won’t spoil it, but I felt like it really could have used an epilogue to wrap it all up nicely.

My biggest complaint about the book is that the chapters are on average 30 pages in length (with some reaching up to 40 pages), which I know I’ve said before and I’ll certainly say again, makes me crazy.  I want an opportunity to put the book down if I need it, and not in the middle of a chapter.

Overall I really loved this book and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more from Simon Jimenez in the future.  Thank you to the publisher for sending a review copy.

The Vanished Birds can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.

27 thoughts on “Book Review: The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez

  1. Oh wow, I need to read this! Especially since there is a planet overrun with dogs, lol. I just finished an audio book that is a huge intergalactic adventure and I loved it. Awesome review, Sarah!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess maybe it depends on your definition Of reasonable? My frustration comes from having a 6 year old who interrupts (in the best way) every ten minutes. Generally I can put her off with “just two more pages and I’ll get it” but that’s not the case with a 40 page chapter! It’s really frustrating for me and I generally feel like it isn’t necessary. There were plenty of opportunities for chapter breaks without interrupting a scene.

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      • OH! LOL, I meant that when I was a kid I loved how his books were short chapters that made you want to keep reading. I haven’t really read any of his adult stuff, though I know he was prolific in the 90s. Is he still writing much in the way of adult fiction?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh wow! Lol- I read that so very wrong, I’m sorry! Yes RL Stine is probably where I got the habit from. 20 pages is stretching it for me, but tolerable. 5-10 is my very happy place (12 is fine) Lol.

        I don’t know how current his adult stuff is- I only figured out like a couple months ago that he ever wrote anything for adults! I just saw it and freaked because I didn’t know how I’d missed it all this time. That being said I do think he is still writing but I could be wrong.

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  2. The pocket space is interesting. Makes you wonder just what it would be worth to do that kind of travel knowing that you’ll essentially being missing huge chunks of your loved ones lives.

    Not a bad thing if you’re a single person with zero attachments. Surely after a few trips the tech could be outdated. Interesting concepts, indeed.

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  3. Pingback: Month in Review: February 2020 | Hamlets & Hyperspace

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