The Vanished Birds
A mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman, changing both of their lives forever in this captivating debut of connection across space and time."This is when your life begins."Nia Imani is a woman out of place and outside of time. Decades of travel through the stars are condensed into mere months for her, though the years continue to march steadily onward for everyone she has ever known. Her friends and lovers have aged past her; all she has left is work. Alone and adrift, she lives only for the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky.A boy, broken by his past.The scarred child does not speak, his only form of communication the beautiful and haunting music he plays on an old wooden flute. Captured by his songs and their strange, immediate connection, Nia decides to take the boy in. And over years of starlit travel, these two outsiders discover in each other the things they lack. For him, a home, a place of love and safety. For her, an anchor to the world outside of herself.For both of them, a family.But Nia is not the only one who wants the boy. The past hungers for him, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.

The Vanished Birds Details

TitleThe Vanished Birds
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 14th, 2020
PublisherDel Rey Books
ISBN-139780593128985
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Adult, Speculative Fiction, Time Travel, Dystopia, GLBT, Queer, Literary Fiction

The Vanished Birds Review

  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    Vanished Birds is a mysterious science fiction tale bathed in beautiful prose that offers glimpses of a future of seasons changing, stars within reach, technological marvels, corporate greed, and metaphysical depth. Starting with a distant world, a colony frozen in time except for brief decades-apart visits from offworlders. You get a strong juxtaposition of the few backward souls living simple lives and the grand civilization out there. A young boy exploding from the stars changes everything. Vanished Birds is a mysterious science fiction tale bathed in beautiful prose that offers glimpses of a future of seasons changing, stars within reach, technological marvels, corporate greed, and metaphysical depth. Starting with a distant world, a colony frozen in time except for brief decades-apart visits from offworlders. You get a strong juxtaposition of the few backward souls living simple lives and the grand civilization out there. A young boy exploding from the stars ✨ changes everything. And, his future appears special. He's mute. He doesn't belong anywhere. But he may just be the one everyone in the cosmos has been waiting for. Or not. Meanwhile, a thousand years earlier, a designer baby changes everything and puts in motion things unimagined. The question is always what matters most, personal affections or human progress. Is it the job or the relationship that's important? Is loyalty to your friends, shipmates, companions paramount or setting aside a nest egg? Ultimately are we all disposable, interchangeable, useful? And what are the limits of corporate greed? Will it take us places we never thought we'd go? This is a metaphysical story, not a bang bang shoot em up. It's filled with a sense of wonder and magic. Although I enjoyed it, I'm not certain everyone will. What I think makes this novel work so well is that you never really know where the story is going. At first, you think one is the main character, but then there's a shift and the story focuses on someone else in another part of he universe becomes the focus. A lot of the story takes place on an aging ship with a motley crew, but it's a few giant steps till you get there. First, you have to flee the dying earth and it's not necessarily fair who gets to go. First, you have to have the oddest extramarital affair imaginable. First, someone has to predict what may come to be. In any case, the writing is captivating, mystical. And takes the reader on a One strange trip through ugh time and 🚀 space.
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  • Zoeytron
    January 1, 1970
    Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review.A young boy falls from the sky. He is mute, but eventually finds his voice with a wooden flute and the magic of music. There is something very special about this boy. Myriad worlds in outer space have become established now. The blue sky overhead may very well be virtual, cherry blossoms no longer exist except in memory and fireworks. Digital glamour is all around, artificial youth and designer babies are par for the course. All tempered Copy furnished by Net Galley for the price of a review.A young boy falls from the sky.  He is mute, but eventually finds his voice with a wooden flute and the magic of music.  There is something very special about this boy.  Myriad worlds in outer space have become established now.  The blue sky overhead may very well be virtual, cherry blossoms no longer exist except in memory and fireworks.  Digital glamour is all around, artificial youth and designer babies are par for the course.  All tempered with a poisonous moon, a smell of hate, a two-tailed cat, and a city of dogs. Sci-Fi is not my preferred genre, but I enjoy giving it a go from time to time.  If you like Sci-Fi with a goodly dose of the metaphysical, climb on board and give this a spin.
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  • posthuman
    January 1, 1970
    There is a promising glimmer of brilliance in The Vanished Birds, the debut sci-fi novel by Simón Jiménez. It pains me to consider what a masterly work this might have been with some additional polish, scenes cut or added here and there. Keep an eye on Jiménez, though. He will likely become one of the important voices in this genre in the coming years. The first forty pages or so had me engrossed in the life of a young boy growing up in a primitive farming community on an alien world. He falls There is a promising glimmer of brilliance in The Vanished Birds, the debut sci-fi novel by Simón Jiménez. It pains me to consider what a masterly work this might have been with some additional polish, scenes cut or added here and there. Keep an eye on Jiménez, though. He will likely become one of the important voices in this genre in the coming years. The first forty pages or so had me engrossed in the life of a young boy growing up in a primitive farming community on an alien world. He falls in love with one of the visitors who lands on his planet every fifteen years to pick up the harvest of purple dhuba, an exotic crop in great demand on other worlds. This is a bittersweet love affair that reads like a fable or folklore. For the visitor, Nia, only a few months have passed. Meanwhile Kaeda the boy becomes a young man, middle aged and finally the elderly village leader.One day a naked and mute alien boy appears on their doorstep, and the village is in an uproar. At great political cost old Kaeda shelters the mysterious boy in his home until the next scheduled visit from Nia's ship.Jiménez's lyrical prose and captivating vision of the primitive society made this part a delight to read. The chapters about Fumiko Nakajima's life on Earth and the crew of Nia's ship on leave at Pelican station felt like a completely different book. These scenes dragged on a bit and particularly on Pelican station it felt like Nia was wandering about with no particular goal. The worlds of Pelican station and near-future Earth were somewhat bland and contrived compared to the lush, original setting of Umbai-V or some of the other places the author takes us later in the story. I was close to putting the book down at this point, but I'm glad I continued reading.Once the crew finally embarks on their mission from Fumiko, the story shifts to a higher gear and for the most part I was enthralled to the very end.The author's vision of our distant future populating fascinating new worlds and cultures was breathtaking - Gorlen and his dogs on the lonely moon of Ariadne, the Painted City, the fringe settlements and the ragamuffin who stole Ahro's heart in the sunbaked fishing village on Kilkari. Later, when the boy returns to Umbai-V, I had high hopes he would visit those distant villages with Elby and meet more interesting characters and local conflicts. It was disappointing that we didn't get to explore more of this setting. Also would have loved to read about some of the exotic locales mentioned briefly in passing: The black spires. Sounder’s Outpost Kai. Networked streets of Suda-Sulai. The icescapes of Gallahad. We’ve performed countless jobs in places both large and small. Delivered vaccinations across continents. Escorted three wealthy sisters as they pilgrimaged to the old temples of their religion. Diagnosed the mysterious ailment that plagued the son of a Primark Prince Some reviewers complained about the ending. For me it worked. There are a few lingering questions, but I suppose any story that has me still mulling over its secrets long after I've finished reading is a story that succeeded in moving me in some way. Perhaps would have liked to see a bit more of an interesting twist in Ahro's origin and the identity of the Kind One.Many thanks to NetGalley and Del Ray Books / Random House Publishing - Ballantine for providing advance review copy
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  • Elizabeth Willis
    January 1, 1970
    The first few chapters are like the kind of perfectly encapsulated short stories you always want to be a novel and then this IS a novel. And from then on it's just casually a far-reaching space opera of stunning emotional depth (and beautiful prose) with a cast of radiantly queer characters that will teach you the meaning of chosen family. No big deal.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.
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  • Fran
    January 1, 1970
    Intergalactic traveler, Captain Nia Imani, was hired by the Umbai Company to complete six cycles of crop collection from distant farming worlds. Nia's ship "Debby" folded into "pocket space" where a journey of mere months across space and time could tabulate to one and a half decades of time in a far away world. Nia, an offworlder, landed in Kaeda's family community every fifteen years to collect the harvest of dhuba seeds (seeds with a mauve patina). On Shipment Day, a great banquet was held Intergalactic traveler, Captain Nia Imani, was hired by the Umbai Company to complete six cycles of crop collection from distant farming worlds. Nia's ship "Debby" folded into "pocket space" where a journey of mere months across space and time could tabulate to one and a half decades of time in a far away world. Nia, an offworlder, landed in Kaeda's family community every fifteen years to collect the harvest of dhuba seeds (seeds with a mauve patina). On Shipment Day, a great banquet was held for both offworlders and the farmers.Kaeda saw her. "A woman alone on a bench, sitting by the fire playing the flute...the woman's breath flumed through the wooden tube...gladly mesmerizing him...the music stopped...". The connection between Nia and Kaeda could not be denied. No matter how strong, any relationship was doomed. Every fifteen years, when Nia collected the harvest, she had only aged months, not so for Kaeda. "Their fingers grazed as he took the gift...her flute...".An odd, mute boy crash landed on Kaeda's planet. Music was the key to communication between "the boy" and Kaeda. Kaeda taught him to play the flute. He determined that the best course of action was to send "the boy" into space with Nia when she arrived, in a few months, on Shipment Day. Would this be a wise decision?One thousand years earlier, Fumiko Nakajima was "designed" by her mother to be ugly, the goal, "to have a daughter with a mind finely honed for intellect, a prized attribute." Fumiko became an aerospace engineer and was soon hired by Umbai Associates to design a series of space stations. Periods of suspended animation had enabled Fumiko to safeguard Umbai's intellectual property and make adjustments to her agenda and Umbai's final goal."The Vanishing Birds", a debut work of science fiction/fantasy by Simon Jimenez explores a future world replete with genetic engineering, corporate greed, and depletion of natural resources. The many characters that populate this tome are detailed to perfection. Author Jimenez's prose had me laughing, crying, cheering and, at times, speechless. I was delighted to journey through "pocket space" with the crew of the "Debby". Kudos to Simon Jimenez!Thank you Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine, Del Rey and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "The Vanishing Birds".
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  • megs_bookrack
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you for the ARC, Del Rey Books!This story sounds hauntingly beautiful and I am looking forward to getting to it.
  • Lisa Wolf
    January 1, 1970
    The Vanished Birds is both lovely and perplexing, a science fiction story about space travel and corporate domination that’s also a deeply personal story about love, identity, and home.The book opens on what we come to learn is a Resource World owned by the ubiquitous Umbai corporation. At first glance, we’ve arrived in a rural, agricultural community that seems quaint and unsophisticated. The people of the village work in the dhuba fields; their crop is collected once every 15 years by the The Vanished Birds is both lovely and perplexing, a science fiction story about space travel and corporate domination that’s also a deeply personal story about love, identity, and home.The book opens on what we come to learn is a Resource World owned by the ubiquitous Umbai corporation. At first glance, we’ve arrived in a rural, agricultural community that seems quaint and unsophisticated. The people of the village work in the dhuba fields; their crop is collected once every 15 years by the space travelling ships that carry out trade across the galaxy.A boy in the village, Kaeda, is seven years old when he sees the ships arrive for the first time, and he’s immediately captivated by their beauty as well as by the mysterious allure of Nia Imani, the ship’s captain.The trick here, though, is that ships travel through Pocket Space, secret folds through time that allow them to travel faster than the time passing on the planets. The fifteen years in between visits to Kaeda’s world take only eight months on Nia’s ship. The beautiful first chapter of The Vanished Birds traces the strange relationship between Kaeda and Nia, as each of her visits reintroduces her to Kaeda at a different point in his life, from boyhood to youth to adult to elder.Later, a strange boy arrives in Kaeda’s world, seemingly out of nowhere. Mute, naked, and scarred, he’s taken in by Kaeda, but because it’s clear that he’s from elsewhere, he’s then given into Nia’s care.The story shifts to Nia and her crew as they travel with the boy, trying to unravel his secrets and keep him safe. From here, the plot expands outward. We meet Fumiko Nakajima, the brilliant scientist who leaves behind her strange upbringing on a dying Earth to become the creator of the interplanetary systems of travel that fuel the next thousand years. And we learn more about the end of Earth, the expansion of Umbai and their tight control, and the different concepts of space travel.But what really is essential here is the language and the people. The writing in The Vanished Birds is almost poetic at times, filled with unusual imagery and looping writing. The characters are complex, as are their relationships with time and memory.While we see the unspeakable cruelty of Umbai and the degradation of the lives considered lesser, the exploitation of the Resource Worlds, and the easy dismissal of the value of life, most of science fiction elements are in soft focus. We learn about the methods of travel, the research institutes and their obscene experimentation, but very little of it is explained in great detail. This book is less hard science fiction and much more a meditation on the meaning of it all.While beautifully written, at times The Vanished Birds frustrated me, as I do tend to gravitate toward a more literal science fiction approach, and occasionally wanted more straight-forward answers and explanations.Still, this book overall is an unusual and emotionally powerful read. I think it’ll be on my mind for quite some time, from the almost folkloric beginning to the tragic but inevitable end.Highly recommended.Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley. Full review at Bookshelf Fantasies.
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  • The Captain
    January 1, 1970
    Ahoy there me mateys! I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .This is certainly an excellent debut novel even if the third part of the book didn't work for me. The book follows three people - a ship's Captain (Nia), a scientist (Fumiko), and a mute boy who falls from the sky. Eventually the lives of all three of these people intersect and changes the world.This really was a hard novel to classify so if any of this sounds Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .This is certainly an excellent debut novel even if the third part of the book didn't work for me.  The book follows three people - a ship's Captain (Nia), a scientist (Fumiko), and a mute boy who falls from the sky.  Eventually the lives of all three of these people intersect and changes the world.This really was a hard novel to classify so if any of this sounds interesting give it a shot.  Though the three characters are the overall focus, the plot is not a straightforward one.  In fact, the beginning of the novel showcases a minor trading planet and the life of one of its residents.  How this section unfolds is beautifully written but the true significance of the setting doesn't manifest until much later in the novel.  This novel is not full of action and battles like a lot of sci-fi.  Instead it deals with large ideas, interpersonal relationships, and the consequences of choices interacting with the passage of time.Part one features the introduction of all three characters.  Ye have Nia who be a ship's captain (Arrr!) who runs an interstellar shipping route.  The main problem is that time for her be relativistic.  A trip that takes months for her is years or decades for the rest of the world.  Consequently she is rather closed off and focuses on the moment.  Fumiko is a brilliant designer baby whose talents literally open up the stars.  However the choices she makes in terms of her career have long term impacts both professionally and personally.  The boy is rescued from a crash as a sole survivor.  He ends up being the linchpin between Nia and Fumiko.  This section introduces the history of Earth, the pasts of Nia and Fumiko, and sets up the mystery of the boy.  It was spellbinding.Part two deals with the boy at the center.  This section primarily takes place on Nia's ship and the worlds she is trading with.  This part deals the most with interpersonal relationships and the ideas of found family.  The ship's mission is fascinating and witnessing this time period is lovely.  It feels quiet and contemplative but was never boring.  Ye get answers to the mystery of the boy and watch him grow and mature.  His very presence changes everyone around him for the better.  I grew to love both him and the other ship's occupants.Part three is where this book started to fail me because the plot took an abrupt left turn.  Up until then I would have given this book five stars.  In this section, the boy becomes a political and monetary weapon.  I felt that the entire book was believable and beautifully executed until part three's very first sentence.  Then the confusion began.  Corporation politics is the focus and the choices they make regarding the boy were absolutely mind-boggling and strange.  The events that happen to Nia and Fumiko were equally perplexing.  There were good things in this section but overall the tone shifted and realism seemed to dissipate.This book is compelling in that I continue to think about ramifications of the plot and writing long after completing the novel.  In fact, the review took over a week and a half to write because I was pondering how I felt about the reading experience.  Ultimately the last 10% was unsatisfying and the conclusion was horrible and I hated it.  However, up until that third section, I was completely engrossed and loving it.  I do believe that the author is one to watch and I will certainly be picking up whatever he writes next because I loved the first two parts.So lastly . . .Thank you Random House!
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  • Iona
    January 1, 1970
    This is definitely one of those books that I need to subject to a reread. I tend to never read books twice, but I feel to truly understand every moving aspect of this story, I want to open it and read it again. This book is an intricate spiderweb of intergalactic characters, plots, and politics that makes you want to crawl inside of the author's mind and ask how were you able to fit all of this in your head??. The book is structured like many short stories woven together in a novel format. This is definitely one of those books that I need to subject to a reread. I tend to never read books twice, but I feel to truly understand every moving aspect of this story, I want to open it and read it again. This book is an intricate spiderweb of intergalactic characters, plots, and politics that makes you want to crawl inside of the author's mind and ask how were you able to fit all of this in your head??. The book is structured like many short stories woven together in a novel format. Almost like seasons in a TV series; each season presents a different story that was created by the domino effects of the previous seasons. Truly, I feel like this book is MEANT for the big screen. We have a new-and-improved Star Wars on our hands here that presents much more complicated alternatives to humans' space-travel future. I would 20/10 recommend to read this. I will be keeping a close eye on this author for future books because truly Simon Jimenez, how did you fit this inside of your brain? It's a mystery to us all.
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  • The Nerd Daily
    January 1, 1970
    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Ankara C“One day, I will ask what it is he hears, when he hears the notes of music: the infernal, or the celestial. Judging by what I hear now—the flute song through my open door—it is most likely something in between. A fiery heaven all its own.”A distant future, where Earth is long gone. The descendants of Earthlings inhabit spaceships resembling long vanished birds that once populated the planet. An immense array of worlds full of life to Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Ankara C“One day, I will ask what it is he hears, when he hears the notes of music: the infernal, or the celestial. Judging by what I hear now—the flute song through my open door—it is most likely something in between. A fiery heaven all its own.”A distant future, where Earth is long gone. The descendants of Earthlings inhabit spaceships resembling long vanished birds that once populated the planet. An immense array of worlds full of life to discover and resources for soulless corporations to exploit. A young boy that falls from the sky and who is destined for greatness, but not yet ready to change the future. A space crew that has lost its purpose and sense of belonging after years of travelling through space, free from the constrains of time. All of these tied together by the haunting music created by the boy’s flute.Simon Jimenez’s debut novel offers a thoughtful glimpse into a distant future, where humanity has not bothered to try and fix the ravage of pollution, greed, and carelessness towards our environment. However, not only is The Vanished Birds a cautionary tale about the rather ominous future that awaits if we don’t change our current situation, environmentally speaking, but also an exploration of how our conception of humanity will also evolve…for the worse. In a world driven by capitalism, where the passing of time is not an issue anymore and new planets are conquered by the hour, things are not looking that good for individuals anymore.Some of the human consequences of this evolution are groundbreaking, such as parents considering their children as their property, genetically modifying the babies for them to be perfect…or making them extremely ugly on purpose, just for the aesthetic effect of it. Others are occurrences that have been repeated through history time and time again: using people for one’s own benefit as if they were expendable objects or colonising entire planets to build hotel complexes or to exploit their unique resources.All of these poignant issues are what the main characters of The Vanished Birds have to go through, while also trying to grasp stable connections both with other people and amongst each other—not an easy feat when the ongoing expansion of space territories simultaneously increases the feeling of loneliness rooted in human hearts. Interestingly, the first two sections of the novel are divided into chapters where a different character acts as the focalizer of the narration. Thus, most could be read as an individual short story. However, as the story develops, all of these fragments are linked by the three most prominent characters: the captain of the spaceship, Nia Imani, the mysterious young boy who initially communicates through music, Ahro, and the engineer who creates the stations where the population of Earth lives once the planet dies, Fumiko Nakajima.For the most part, all of the characters that revolve around the three people at the core of the novel are beautifully complex and special in their own way. Each and every person has their own voice, no matter their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, or background. All of them are equally important and carefully listened to, and hence, each character’s story becomes undoubtedly discernible from the others, mostly through the way they express their thoughts and shape their reality through words. As a result, The Vanished Birds becomes a rich exploration of the diversity of humankind and how it can bloom even in the most unfavourable of future prospects. Sadly, said colourfulness is not extended to the last section of the novel and some parts of the second. Nia and Ahro begin a new journey with a different crew, who, unfortunately, blurs together. Most of the characters are less polished and harder to differentiate —with the exception of Sartoris Moth.Coincidentally with this change of definition in the personality of the characters, the plot also takes a slight downturn. Divided into three sections that are harshly differentiated, the plot structure is the main flaw of this otherwise flawless debut novel. As previously mentioned, the first section of The Vanished Birds reads like a collection of short stories, each utterly interesting and unique. The first chapter narrates the life of Kaeda, the man who takes the mysterious child —and driving force of the novel— under his wing. The first chapter is the most-easy-to-detach from the set, most likely due to the fact that it was initially a short story on its own. From then on, the rest present one of the main characters: Nia, Ahro, and Fumiko, and, nonetheless, all of these individual fragments are so masterfully intertwined that Jimenez’s technique works beautifully.The second part of the novel is a bit of a mixture, even if it maintains the changes in focalisation, all chapters are more closely interconnected and follow the same timeline, unlike the first set of chapters. Finally, the last section is completely unified and follows a single plotline. Of the three sections, the final one is the weakest, as it appears to lack the most original features of the other two. For the most part, it drags on too much, but at the same time, the ending feels rushed and out of control. Unfortunately, these different structures make the story seem a bit disjointed. Had Simon Jimenez continued with the short story composite structure, the novel would, from start to finish, match the uniqueness of its contents.Despite these small flaws concerning the plot, the highlight of The Vanished Birds is, hands down, its prose. Simon Jimenez makes use of the most gorgeous lyricism and metaphorical images. Making use of an exquisitely languid pace, Jimenez pays special attention to the creation of mental images, through descriptions of interstellar landscapes and feelings. Subsequently, the strong contrast of the beauty of the prose and the “ugliness” of the very harsh topics the author delves in, creates an astounding assortment of balanced layers of meaning and intention.In conclusion, The Vanished Birds is a truly remarkable debut novel, where Simon Jimenez offers a stunningly lyric approach to science fiction and a sharp form of criticism of the damaging path humankind is following towards the future, as regards nature and our environment. Heavily influenced by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s prose and the whimsicality of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, Simon Jimenez is an author readers should definitely keep an eye on.
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  • Lauren Stoolfire
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez has so much potential, but it just never quite lived up to all of it for me. There were parts that I quite loved, but others that just seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. There are also moments where it goes from moving right along to dragging as slowly as possible. The language though is certainly beautiful overall and the story as a whole offers much to think about. While this wasn't quite I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez has so much potential, but it just never quite lived up to all of it for me. There were parts that I quite loved, but others that just seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. There are also moments where it goes from moving right along to dragging as slowly as possible. The language though is certainly beautiful overall and the story as a whole offers much to think about. While this wasn't quite what I was expecting, I can still say for sure that I will be keeping an eye on Jimenez's future works.
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  • Judy Lesley
    January 1, 1970
    The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez is an example of literary science fiction done well. In fact, I would say it was done very well. Throughout the novel Jimenez is exploring the concept of home and what home means or can mean to each of us. In this story home also includes a specific person or a group of people, but there have to be feelings of safety and trust. For the young boy rescued from a crashed spaceship his past is such a horrible tangle of remembered pain that his trust was not won The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez is an example of literary science fiction done well. In fact, I would say it was done very well. Throughout the novel Jimenez is exploring the concept of home and what home means or can mean to each of us. In this story home also includes a specific person or a group of people, but there have to be feelings of safety and trust. For the young boy rescued from a crashed spaceship his past is such a horrible tangle of remembered pain that his trust was not won easily or quickly. The journey toward becoming a family and having that elusive home took place over many years of space travel on a ship hired out one job at a time.The characters in this novel are so fully developed that I soon began to see them as real. That is such a hard thing for an author to accomplish and such a delight for me when I'm reading. The lengths to which Big Commercialism will go to grab on to the next big thing, the advancement that will make them money hand over fist is so vivid in this novel that it was a little frightening. All humanity had been wrenched from the business advancements of this mega giant and yet, what were the intentions of the "good" scientific genius who also wanted control of this new space development? I will be thinking about this story for a long time.I received an ARC of this novel through the Amazon Vine Voices program.
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  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    January 1, 1970
    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2020/01/21/...I enjoyed The Vanished Birds very much, which surprised me, because it ended up not being the kind of book I would typically like at all! I would definitely recommend it, though I think convincing others that they should check it out will be tough, since the novel is difficult to categorize and the story itself can be a bit strange. By the end of it though, it filled me with a mix of complex emotions, some happy and 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2020/01/21/...I enjoyed The Vanished Birds very much, which surprised me, because it ended up not being the kind of book I would typically like at all! I would definitely recommend it, though I think convincing others that they should check it out will be tough, since the novel is difficult to categorize and the story itself can be a bit strange. By the end of it though, it filled me with a mix of complex emotions, some happy and bittersweet.Told in multiple parts, and via multiple timelines across a huge time frame, the beginning of The Vanished Birds first introduces to Nia Imani who captains a transport ship, carrying goods and harvest products from their origin planets for her employers, the all-powerful Umbai Company. On one of her runs to a backwater planet, a mysterious boy falls out of the sky and into Nia’s life, giving it a new purpose and meaning. The boy doesn’t speak, but through music, he begins to form a connection with Nia, playing beautiful songs on his flute that tugs on something inside of her. There’s something about the boy, whose name is Ahro, as Nia and her crew eventually find out. He is special, though none of them really know why, but his existence eventually catches the attention of some influential and dangerous people.Readers also get to meet aerospace engineering designer Fumiko Nakajima, who helped create Umbai’s massive space stations that allowed them to dominate the industry. It’s a decision she has always regretted, since it had meant choosing her work over love many years ago. But her employers are ever demanding more from her, including a way to make travel through space faster and more efficient. When Fumiko learns of a boy who has abilities that could potentially revolutionize space travel, she reaches out with an offer to Nia, who has since grown close to Ahro.Shifting between points-of-view of characters, some of whom are more than hundreds of years old due to the time dilation effects of space travel and technology like suspended animation, the novel tells a saga that spans more than a millennium. In this way, the story explores a lot of the themes and issues that affect human civilization and history, among them environmental and resource depletion, corporate greed on steroids. That said, the book also takes a look at life on a more personal level, as the plot follows the loves, desires, and ambitions of characters over a thousand years. Not a lot of futuristic fiction have the advantage of being told on a scale this vast, which gives The Vanished Birds a somewhat unique angle on a premise that is already very imaginative.However, this can also make the book quite difficult to parse, with its convoluted timelines and beginnings that aren’t really beginning and endings that aren’t really endings. If this sounds confusing, that’s because it is; this story has many layers, and they gradually peel away to reveal all the connections and answers that ultimately make this novel so satisfying. The experience requires patience and commitment to the characters and their individual journeys, because their purpose might not become clear until much later, even as the circumstances surrounding them become stranger and more abstract.Luckily though, this is a very character-focused novel, and becoming invested in them isn’t difficult. Simon Jimenez’s writing is deep and soulful in its handling of our characters’ secret hearts and minds. The overall tone of the story can be described as quiet and emotional, but what it lacks in excitement and action it makes up for with meaningful relationships and the weight of personal decisions. I loved the bond between Nia and Ahro, which grew into something very beautiful and pure. Fumiko’s sacrifices for knowledge and progress damn near broke my heart. And speaking of heartbreak, I won’t be giving away any details of the ending, but certain elements of it did leave me feeling devastated and stricken. And yet, amidst all the losses, there is still light, and I hold tight to the hope that the words on the final page made me feel.So if The Vanished Birds sounds like something you might like, I highly encourage you to give it a try, bearing in mind some of its twisted complexities, apparent agendas, and aspects that are just downright bizarre. However, if you are a fan of character-driven novels with emphasis on interpersonal relationships and choices that shape the world and their future, it is absolutely worth your time and attention. This is an excellent, thoroughly enchanting debut by Simon Jimenez.
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  • Lark Benobi
    January 1, 1970
    I experienced this novel as humorless, baffling, and trending toward an unnecessary attention to viscera and/or precious bodily fluids. Let me hasten to add that there are some very fine sentences here, and even a good scene or two, and it's possible that Jimenez's next novel will be really good.
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  • Beth Cato
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.What an astonishingly deep, meaningful book--one that I fully expect to be up for awards next year. Even more remarkable that this is the author's debut. That said, I didn't find it to be a flawless work, especially at the very end.The cover copy mentions that the book is about 'space and time,' but that minimizes the book's true genre. It ends up being straight-out space opera with very literary-style elements. The book starts out I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.What an astonishingly deep, meaningful book--one that I fully expect to be up for awards next year. Even more remarkable that this is the author's debut. That said, I didn't find it to be a flawless work, especially at the very end.The cover copy mentions that the book is about 'space and time,' but that minimizes the book's true genre. It ends up being straight-out space opera with very literary-style elements. The book starts out on a world that has a vibe of rural Africa or Asia, where people live and harvest and await a space transport every 15 years that will pick up their wares. A boy crash lands there. He has no ship, no clothes, and no voice. He's taken in by a man who presents him with a flute given to him by an interstellar trader. The boy becomes obsessed with the instrument. When the trader returns again--unaged, due to the nature of space flight--she agrees to take the strange child for treatment and to find out the mystery of his origins.The book flows between many points of view, though it primarily follows Nia--the starship captain-and the boy, who comes to be known as Ahro. At times, the transitions in POV come as a bit of a jolt. The mystery around the boy continues to build: Who is he? What is he? When his mystery gains the attention of a 1000-year-old famed scientist of old Earth, the book shifts in a very unexpected way. Really, much of the book's plot comes as a surprise, which is refreshing for me as I normally can predict things a bit too well.Like so many great science fiction books right now, The Vanishes Birds explores the innate nature of what defines humanity--love, found family, faith in one another--against a fascinating far-future. It's beautiful. Sometimes disturbing. And always, heart-wrenchingly human.Then comes the ending. I won't state any spoilers, but I will say that something about the end feels... off. I can't put my finger on what I would do differently, though. I like that it's not a cookie-cutter happy ending, but a resolution that involves considerable time and work. At the same time... I don't know. It didn't ruin the book for me, not by any means, but neither did it resolve what I hoped it would resolve for all of the major characters.
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  • Koeur
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 4.2/5Review: I don’t know what to say. Astounding writing for someones first novel. This writer weaves a complex tale that spans lifetimes while revolving around the same characters. Fascinating and wholly absorbing from start to semi-finish.“So why you no give 5 stars!!!”. (view spoiler)[While the story line moves at a pace that drives evolving characterization, the ending just plane sucked. There is this long build to become something greater and evolve within the universe that is Rating: 4.2/5Review: I don’t know what to say. Astounding writing for someones first novel. This writer weaves a complex tale that spans lifetimes while revolving around the same characters. Fascinating and wholly absorbing from start to semi-finish.“So why you no give 5 stars!!!”. (view spoiler)[While the story line moves at a pace that drives evolving characterization, the ending just plane sucked. There is this long build to become something greater and evolve within the universe that is never realized. The fail at culminating everything into a solid crescendo left no room in appreciating what came before. Like, what was the point?So here’s to Jimenez for building one of the finest SciFi novels I have read in a long time. And also a poke in the eye for ruining it in a matter of pages. (hide spoiler)] What a D-bag.
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  • Beth ~~Just One More Chapter I Swear~~
    January 1, 1970
    Fair warning: this review is a bit Adjective laden. I apologize right here and now...some things had to be expressed ... verbosely.Well well well... This lucky find was a true work of art! It was a magnificently wrapped present that I didn't know I absolutely had to have in my life until I tore into it. It was a lot of things (mostly all sorts of awesome) but it was also somewhat tricky to whittle down to bite size pieces without giving away too much of what I believe to be spoiler material. Fair warning: this review is a bit Adjective laden. I apologize right here and now...some things had to be expressed ... verbosely.Well well well... This lucky find was a true work of art! It was a magnificently wrapped present that I didn't know I absolutely had to have in my life until I tore into it. It was a lot of things (mostly all sorts of awesome) but it was also somewhat tricky to whittle down to bite size pieces without giving away too much of what I believe to be spoiler material. Soooo I won't regale you with my regurgitated version of the synopsis, better writers than I have succinctly captured its essence. What I will say is that I categorically loved this read!! It beautifully showcased the literary genius that is Simon Jimenez's mind. Let's start off with the basics. The story was primarily character driven and oh how I lost myself in their depths. The world building, on the other hand, was ethereal, resplendent, and quite impressive but the stars of the show were most definitely the Characters. The Characters were (at times) resilient, hopeful, brave, (at other times) bereft, defiant, and (always) adventurous pioneers... in other words, they were perfectly flawed human beings like the rest of us. The writing was skillful and seasoned without being pretentious. The prose, delicate and not overpowering. The way the characters and their situations were presented were both tasteful and seductive. There were interwoven vignettes that were equal parts gorgeous, traumatizing and oh so poignant. I absolutely adored each character's contribution to the finely woven tapestry, BUT I was a little confused towards the end. I'll have to revisit the last few pages to make sure I got exactly what was being intimated ... AHEM, Ahro's birth (birth mother??)--> Quiet Ship pickup... who the hell called those psychopaths onto the scene?? Anyway, I digress. The rest was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!! It jumped around spotlighting seemingly unrelated people and illuminated their seemingly singular lives. Then, slowly, masterfully, the entwining threads of commonality amongst the group started to form a fully cohesive picture. We were constantly seeing through the different character's deliciously tinted shades of Reality and I was SO enamored with that/them/EVERYTHING!The story was chock full of modern day societal hot topics and dilemmas such as: the dissipation of environmental resources, the ramifications of corporate greed, mass extinctions, genetic tinkering, society's toxic influence on body image, the future of tech and more. It also masterfully portrayed the splendor of Resonance, not only the instrumental kind but that of Familial harmony and the crescendo of carnal cadences as well. There was a plethora of musical accoutrements like the physical act of playing instruments and songs being sung (and internalized) but metaphors and similes and an all around reverence for its presence in the Universe as well. Jimenez colored the Cosmos with a veritable palette of music, light and emotion. It was surreal.Another thing that made me swoon was the slew of strong female representation, it had me falling deeper in love with every turn of the page. Fummiko was scary brilliant and bucked the traditional views of what makes a Woman desireable and worthy. Nia was strong, smart, at times (reluctantly) affectionate, a loyal friend, and a kick ass Captain that never gave up on who and what she desired/needed. I even adored Dana's gossamer presence BUT I strongly recommend that you do not get too attached to the cast members, Jimenez showed no qualms about harming, mutilating or killing off his beloved characters...snuffed some right out... gone in a blink. So yes, there were times that I raged against the book and times when I coddled and cradled it in my lap. I'm not too proud to admit that there were tears shed too... tears of outrage and tears of profound happiness and best of all were the tears of personal connection. I was put through the gamut of Feels and I begged for more. The end was happy and sad and satisfying all at once (except for that one little hiccup of confusion) and ultimately, it was well worth every emotion wrung out of my storm battered heart.Overall:This SciFi/Space Opera/Dystopian amalgamated gem will certainly appeal to lovers of those genres but I foretell this reaching the Snubbers as well. It's true, Science Fiction...Space Operas... and Dystopian novels aren't for everyone (especially smooshed into the same book) BUT If you're a little reticent and on the fence about picking up The Vanished Birds because you've been spurned in the past by any of those genres, I say go for it anyway because it is most definitely worth the time and emotional investment! ~ Enjoy *** I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review ***
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  • Christine Sandquist (eriophora)
    January 1, 1970
    This review and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks. We live in an era where ships can slip into the opaque folds of the universe, and sail along the fringe ripples of time. We can generate muscle tissue, & spool the threads into new limbs. Sunder continents with a single YonSef explosive device. Life has changed, but not our capacity for absurd cruelties. When I began reading The Vanished Birds, I was unsure what to expect. The blurb didn’t prepare me for the book’s This review and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks. We live in an era where ships can slip into the opaque folds of the universe, and sail along the fringe ripples of time. We can generate muscle tissue, & spool the threads into new limbs. Sunder continents with a single YonSef explosive device. Life has changed, but not our capacity for absurd cruelties. When I began reading The Vanished Birds, I was unsure what to expect. The blurb didn’t prepare me for the book’s content, and hardly brushed the primary themes. Jimenez explores not just the idea of a found family, but, more importantly, discusses the ways we can be driven to hurt those we love. He has written a severe, yet tasteful, critique of the idea that the ends can ever justify the means.  The novel opens with a sort of extended prologue, set on a resource planet whose inhabitants farm a sweet bean-paste called dhuba. The planet is contracted under the Umbai corporation, who manage nearly all of inhabited space. The planet’s inhabitants have a culture surrounding the highly anticipated Shipment Day, when the representatives of the Umbai corporation come to trade in exchange for the dhuba they’ve harvested and pounded into a delicacy experienced only by the wealthiest on the City Planets. However, it hasn’t always been that way. Once, the people on this planet had a rich, vibrant culture of which dhuba was only a small part. We see that pattern play out across multiple planets throughout the book; the destruction via economic blackmail to force a group to either conform or die. In either case, their culture and way of life is erased.  It’s on this planet and its dhuba that we meet Ahro. He appears as a comet, striking the planet’s surface and coming from parts unknown - and I mean that quite literally. He does not speak their language. In fact, he does not speak at all. The traumas he has endured are, as yet, locked inside him. His appearance causes quite the stir, until the village’s governor, Kaeda, takes him under his wing.  It was a boy. His body was the only one they found at the site. All else was hot and black. “He was just there,” Elby said, “lying next to the rubble.” Bruised and bleeding, but not broken, the boy was brought to the doctor’s house, where his glancing wounds were cleaned with wet cloth and wrapped in soft bandages. He was a small, skinny thing—no older than twelve. Cheeks gaunt, his flesh so emaciated Kaeda winced, worried that if the boy tried to stand, his leg bones would snap in half. But there was no fear of him standing, for the boy was in a deep sleep, unstirred even by the loud and frantic conversation of everyone around him. For the first half of the novel, Ahro’s story is primarily told through the eyes of others. First, we follow Kaeda as he grows from a young child into an adult and the governor of his village. Kaeda’s story sets the stage for life on a resource planet, and also serves to introduce us to Nia, the captain of the ship that delivers the dhuba to and from the City Planets. Due to the way that the ships navigate time and space, the time between Shipment Days from the perspective of Kaeda is amplified to become years, whereas only months pass for Nia. The two meet when Kaeda is just a young boy, a child, whom Nia gifts a flute. Years later, Nia meets him as a young man… and they fall, just a bit, in love. Kaeda is unreserved in his love, thinking on Nia incessantly even during the years between their meetings. Nia, however, has been broken several times over and finds it difficult to access that part of herself.  Due to the time compression/dilation that occurs during space travel, Nia has lost everyone she loves and cares for. Her small crew is all she has left in the world, really, though she’s acquaintances with the crew of other ships on similar contracts. However, when Ahro comes into her life, she’s thrown into an open-ended contract that may never end. She’s bonded with the boy, and she has begun to use him as a replacement for the family that she lost. In choosing to stay with the boy, she pushes away the crew that has been her interim family and finds herself again in the company of strangers. In Ahro, however, she finds a companion. His songs speak to her heart.  She learned his mannerisms. How his right foot tucked itself behind his left leg when he ate, and how he picked at his nails when he was nervous. How he tugged at his hair with impatience—hair that they had by that point sheared off, leaving an inch of black on top—and how, when he dropped a plate or bumped into her or messed up whatever small task she had assigned him, his shoulders would hunch as if braced for a blow. And in these moments, she would catch a glimpse of his past. A history of silence that existed long before the trauma of the wreckage. A learned pain. In a second thread of storyline that only occasionally overlaps with that of Nia and Ahro, we have the architect of the City Planets: Fumiko Nakajima. The Millenium Woman. Through the use of cold-sleep stasis, she has artificially extended her lifespan far beyond that of a standard human. This, however, comes with a price: each time she is awoken, she’s lost a bit more of herself and of her memories. She’s haunted by dreams of a purple-eyed woman who she knows that, once, she loved. Although she's lost Dana's name, she still feels her presence. When she’s not staving off the phantoms, she’s singularly focused on her projects. Ahro, ultimately, becomes one of them.  There was a story in Dana’s face—a forgotten myth, of a deer who for one night turned into a man and made love to a human woman by a cold-water brook, in the dark heart of a forest. A strange ancestry that revealed itself in the dramatic contours of Dana’s cheekbones, her jaw—the way the lower half of her face projected forward just a nudge, a hint of a snout, and on that projection, a flattened nose, positioned just above the wide set of her lips. Fumiko suspects that Ahro harbors a unique ability, based on his manner of arrival on the resource planet. She thinks that he is the next step in humanity’s evolution: he holds the potential to traverse the stars in the blink of an eye. To Jaunt, she calls in, a small reference to King’s short story. However, due to his age and the trauma she’s undergone, she can’t confirm it… which is why she hired Nia to stay with him and care for him at the fringes of the galaxy.  As Ahro’s past is uncovered and the team see more and more of the resource planets, it becomes ever clearer to the reader just how much of an iron grip the Umbai corporation holds the universe in. Enclaves of artisans wiped out when they refused to kowtow to the Umbai corporations demands. Rural communities reduced from rich, vibrant communities to factories whose only use is skinning eels. And so on and so forth.  For every mistake, a beating. A breaklet wand thrown against the rib, cracking the bone & re-fusing it in moments, leaving behind only the memory of the fracture, the body still able to perform its due tasks. A beating, for not breathing properly. It was a world that valued self-control in all aspects. Even now he could hear it: the peculiar click when the wand extended from its sheath. The red light on its tip, like an eye, and the buzzing sound, like a chitinous bug. When Nia asked him if he was okay, he flinched. “Yes,” he said. The themes and stories told were shockingly poignant. Everyone has a trauma lurking in their past, which has caused them to make the decisions they do in the present tense. I had expected a magical realism novel with scifi flavor, and instead was treated to the horrors of capitalism run rampant. I highly recommend this book, but be warned that it is not a light or easy read.
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  • Anneke
    January 1, 1970
    Book Review: The Vanished BirdsAuthor: Simon JimenezPublisher: Random House/Ballantine/Del ReyPublication Date: January 14, 2020Review Date: September 29, 2019I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.From the blurb:“A mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman, changing both of their lives forever in this captivating debut of connection across space and time.“This is when your life begins.”Nia Imani is a woman out of place and outside of Book Review: The Vanished BirdsAuthor: Simon JimenezPublisher: Random House/Ballantine/Del ReyPublication Date: January 14, 2020Review Date: September 29, 2019I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
From the blurb:“A mysterious child lands in the care of a solitary woman, changing both of their lives forever in this captivating debut of connection across space and time.“This is when your life begins.”Nia Imani is a woman out of place and outside of time. Decades of travel through the stars are condensed into mere months for her, though the years continue to march steadily onward for everyone she has ever known. Her friends and lovers have aged past her; all she has left is work. Alone and adrift, she lives only for the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky.A boy, broken by his past.The scarred child does not speak, his only form of communication the beautiful and haunting music he plays on an old wooden flute. Captured by his songs and their strange, immediate connection, Nia decides to take the boy in. And over years of starlit travel, these two outsiders discover in each other the things they lack. For him, a home, a place of love and safety. For her, an anchor to the world outside of herself.For both of them, a family. But Nia is not the only one who wants the boy. The past hungers for him, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.”This was a magnificent, gorgeous work of sci fi. Of wide ranging speculative fiction. I felt like I was reading Samuel R. Delany, from something he wrote 30 years ago. It’s THAT GOOD.The book is 400 pages, but it took me 4 days to read, which is unusually long for me. It felt like one of those never-ending vast books.The characters were were complex and beautifully built. Lots of breathtaking use of imagery and language. The pace of the plot was perfect, and at the end, all the bits and pieces were tied up neatly. This is a science fiction book that contains everything I want in this genre. I know I’m not being very descriptive about what the book is about, because it is not that kind of straightforward book. If you love right brain speculative fiction, this book is for you. If science fiction is your thing, you’ve got to read this book/So, highly, highly recommended. 5+ starts. Please don’t miss this one.Thank you to Random House/Ballantine/Del Rey for giving me an early look at this masterpiece. This is a debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what the author produces next.Best of luck to the author on his career. This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon.#netgalley #delrey #randomhouse #simonjimenez #thevanishedbirds
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  • Paul DiBara
    January 1, 1970
    The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez may be destined to become a SciFi classic. It is erudite, complex, thought provoking and, to my mind, poetic. It might even be prescient, perhaps not in specific technologies but in its portrayal of humanity’s future social characteristics - more dystopian than a promised land.Science fiction encompasses a broad range of styles and topics. Undoubtedly this work will not appeal to all fans. It will appeal to readers who appreciate the beauty of words when The Vanished Birds by Simon Jimenez may be destined to become a SciFi classic. It is erudite, complex, thought provoking and, to my mind, poetic. It might even be prescient, perhaps not in specific technologies but in its portrayal of humanity’s future social characteristics - more dystopian than a promised land.Science fiction encompasses a broad range of styles and topics. Undoubtedly this work will not appeal to all fans. It will appeal to readers who appreciate the beauty of words when crafted by a talented storyteller. It is to the benefit of our genre that such a wordsmith has chosen speculative fiction to enrich the realm.This is a love story that stretches across a millennium and encompasses a host of interesting characters with varying strengths, weaknesses and motivations. There is no single central protagonist. Three characters do dominate the story, a brilliant scientist, Fumiko Nakajima, who invents a paradigm shifting technology which allows humankind to leap across star systems. On the downside these leaps require the passengers and crew to go into a physical suspension when in transit, so while the years pass outside the ship, relatives, friends age and die as society and technology progresses.Fumiko is a brilliant and unorthodox - to put it mildly. In the course of the narrative she goes from the most celebrated individual to the most traitorous, at least to the ruling elite.Suddenly on a minor farming world a young boy is discovered near to where an extra terrestrial object has crashed. The boy is uncommunicative but is taken in by a local farmer. During his stay the farmer finds that the boy, while terribly withdrawn from local inhabitants does respond to the music of a flute played by this farmer protector. He becomes enchanted with this gift.One ship that visits the community once every fifteen years is captained by Nia Imani who takes to this young boy and is willing to take him with her and away from the community who regards this as something of a blessing. The boy, as it turns out, has an ability that will once again transform intra and intergalactic travel. This turns out to be unfortunate for him.The remainder of the story involves the consequences of the actions of all three of these primary characters and is much too complex even to summarize.If you have been sufficiently tantalized by the foregoing then you may have as much fun reading it as I did.
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  • Andres
    January 1, 1970
    This book is amazing, and I don't say that lightly. It feels like Ursula K. Le Guin at her best, perfectly spliced with the best Heinlein juvenile out there. That's not to say this is a juvenile by any stretch, but it shares some similarities, given that one of the protagonists is a child growing up throughout the novel. Also, the word novel isn't quite right, either. The story is told through a series of well connected stories that shift from one character's viewpoint to another's, often This book is amazing, and I don't say that lightly. It feels like Ursula K. Le Guin at her best, perfectly spliced with the best Heinlein juvenile out there. That's not to say this is a juvenile by any stretch, but it shares some similarities, given that one of the protagonists is a child growing up throughout the novel. Also, the word novel isn't quite right, either. The story is told through a series of well connected stories that shift from one character's viewpoint to another's, often changing style completely. For example, one section is composed entirely of one of the character's diary entries.A very unique approach, by the way, in that it helps not only to move the story along, but also to answer the many questions that crop up along the way, and whose answers aren't known by any one protagonist. The story itself is a tragedy unfolding throughout a space ballad. The characters are all loveable, in their own way, even the very flawed ones. The universe this author created is one in which space travel and commerce are controlled by a monolithic company, and crossing light years takes little time for those traveling, but years elapse for the rest of the universe, in often unpredictable fashion. One character, the child, may offer a solution to that time slippage problem, and is being sought after by different parties, and protected by one of the other main characters. The story draws you in, though I admit I was initially put off by the shifting viewpoints. By the third chapter, I wasn't noticing it any more, I'd been lured into the story too deeply.Simon develops the social impact of his universe masterfully, and indeed, if this is his debut novel, I'm going to be eagerly on the lookout for his future work. If he improves from this great start, he's going to soon be challenging the established grandmasters of the genre. This is science fiction at its best, and I'm very glad I was given the opportunity to review it before its release in a few months.
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  • Lou Jacobs
    January 1, 1970
    A virtual tour de force debut ... although using the science fiction motif , this is a literary novel exploring frienship, love, betrayal and wonder of the fantastic. Filled with a plethora of well fleshed out characters. The main two are female ... Spaceship Captain Nia Imani and aerospace engineer Fumiko Nakajima. Fumiko believes the future of mankind is in the Stars and not on the climate savaged Earth. She is hired by the mega corporation Umbai to design a series of space stations which A virtual tour de force debut ... although using the science fiction motif , this is a literary novel exploring frienship, love, betrayal and wonder of the fantastic. Filled with a plethora of well fleshed out characters. The main two are female ... Spaceship Captain Nia Imani and aerospace engineer Fumiko Nakajima. Fumiko believes the future of mankind is in the Stars and not on the climate savaged Earth. She is hired by the mega corporation Umbai to design a series of space stations which will provide the platform for the migration of the human race by a series of Arks. Fumiko chooses to pursue her career rather than sustain her burgeoning friendship with lover, Dana. Her space stations are designed with similarities to the form of modern day birds ... she names them: Macaw, Pelican , Barbet and Thrasher. (hence the title ... The Vanished Birds). Colonization of the galaxy is achieved by the development of "cold sleep" ... a lengthy period of suspended animation allowing reawakening in a safer time and better place. On the farming planet, Umbai-V, a pod crashes with the mysterious appearance of an unharmed mute boy .... who later is given the name, Ahro. Fumiko has a theory that this youth has a unique but undeveloped power, the ability to Jaunt. An ability suspected in rumor and legend ... however, one that she may have experienced in person. The power in which an individual has the ability to travel across galaxies in mere seconds ... perhaps one day Ahro will be able to think of a place, and be there.Fumiko enlists the aid of Nia to take the boy and remain on the fringes of space ... hidden from the claws of Umbai ... and possibly have him develop the ability to "Jaunt". She opines Umbai has been looking into her extracurricular projects for some time and she'd rather they not know about Ahro. "They do not know how to handle good things without breaking or exploiting them." During the journey Nia and Ahro's relationship flourishes from friendship to admiration and then ultimately mutual love. Simon Jimenez proves to a master storyteller and weaves an intricate and astonishing narrativepitting multiple forces and motivations against one another. Is greed or love the more powerful force? Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing / Ballantine for providing an Uncorrected Proof of this gem in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    A beautifully written science fiction story about love, belonging, exploration, capitalism, and fear. The evolving narration is skillfully handled, bringing depth and additional perspectives to the story while keeping it focused on Nia and Ahro. The story at times moves slowly; it's character driven rather than action-driven, but the world building and character development is well done, so I never felt the book was moving too slowly. I was disappointed by a few small things at the end, but they A beautifully written science fiction story about love, belonging, exploration, capitalism, and fear. The evolving narration is skillfully handled, bringing depth and additional perspectives to the story while keeping it focused on Nia and Ahro. The story at times moves slowly; it's character driven rather than action-driven, but the world building and character development is well done, so I never felt the book was moving too slowly. I was disappointed by a few small things at the end, but they didn't affect my enjoyment of the book. An excellent first novel overall and one that I will recommend to others. I look forward to reading more by Jimenez in the future. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance reading copy.
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  • Barb in Maryland
    January 1, 1970
    Oh wow!!More to come once the good book hangover eases up.After some time to catch my breath, I decided there's no easy way to describe this book. It is an examination of love, loyalty; the need for a home, a family; the passage of time--all dressed-up in high-tech SF clothing. All of the characters are so real, so fully presented by the author, that I became totally invested in their lives. I loved Nia Imani and totally understood her need to 'raise' the castaway boy; to keep him safe from Oh wow!!More to come once the good book hangover eases up.After some time to catch my breath, I decided there's no easy way to describe this book. It is an examination of love, loyalty; the need for a home, a family; the passage of time--all dressed-up in high-tech SF clothing. All of the characters are so real, so fully presented by the author, that I became totally invested in their lives. I loved Nia Imani and totally understood her need to 'raise' the castaway boy; to keep him safe from whomever or whatever had caused him so much pain. They make a family, a home and then disaster strikes.The author's view of the future is frightening because it is so familiar--the commercialism, the hunger for the next 'new thing', the inevitable destruction of unique cultures, habitats, worlds.The story unfolds episodically with the author doing a masterful job of moving back and forth through time as he weaves the episodes together. The prose is almost lyrical without tipping over the edge into overwritten. It was a joy to read.This one goes on the keeper shelf.
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  • Tessa
    January 1, 1970
    I have never read a science fiction novel that is so rich and colorful that it is almost poetic, but The Vanished Birds is precisely that. It packs a subtle but definite punch with plenty of sci-fi gadgetry and an emotional plot that takes the story to a whole new level. Favorite Character: Nia Imani. Nia is a woman of few words, who quickly earns the respect of her crew with her consistency and authoritative manner. Always moving from planet to planet, her career does not leave room for I have never read a science fiction novel that is so rich and colorful that it is almost poetic, but The Vanished Birds is precisely that. It packs a subtle but definite punch with plenty of sci-fi gadgetry and an emotional plot that takes the story to a whole new level. Favorite Character: Nia Imani. Nia is a woman of few words, who quickly earns the respect of her crew with her consistency and authoritative manner. Always moving from planet to planet, her career does not leave room for personal attachments, so she goes through life with a hefty dose of detachment. She loves collecting musical instruments and writing haikus. But most of all, she loves Ahro like the son she never had. He is the one person she has let down the wall around her heart for, and she will not lose him, no matter the cost.What I Liked About The Vanished BirdsIt is beautifully written with vibrancy and flow that make the setting come alive. Every planet, moon, or station the Debby lands on is full of unique character, and I felt like I was experiencing it along with the characters. There isn’t any element of the setting that is a vague impression.I love how the story comes full circle, starting and ending at the same place. This circle brings a level of symmetry and balance to the story, creating a satisfying feeling knowing that the story ended where and how it should. I also love the themes of sacrifice, choices, and consequences that run throughout the novel. The metaphysical manner in which they are explored in The Vanished Birds provides a depth and poignancy to the story that resonates long after you finish reading.To Read or Not to ReadIt is a beautiful journey but not a quick one. If you are ready to sit back and enjoy the ride, no matter how long it takes, this is the book for you. It has a beautiful message and setting that really should not be overlooked, as you will be missing out if you don’t take the time to appreciate the wonder of this story.Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Linda Bond
    January 1, 1970
    The best fantasies are those which touch your heart as well as your mind. The Vanished Birds is just such a story, drawing on the love lost between a woman traveling through space/time and others who stay behind and age more quickly than she. The loneliness is the hardest part. When all we know is gone, we are truly alone. But then the boy arrives and life starts all over again for Nia. Their communication is through music, not words, and soon the two travelers forge themselves into a family of The best fantasies are those which touch your heart as well as your mind. The Vanished Birds is just such a story, drawing on the love lost between a woman traveling through space/time and others who stay behind and age more quickly than she. The loneliness is the hardest part. When all we know is gone, we are truly alone. But then the boy arrives and life starts all over again for Nia. Their communication is through music, not words, and soon the two travelers forge themselves into a family of sorts – mother and son. When the past rears up its ugly head, though, that relationship is threatened and Nia must come up with an answer. The Vanished Birds is a lilting song of a book that will stay with you just as a whisp of a musical memory can lodge itself in your mind forever.I met this book at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane, WA.
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  • Velvet
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 20%I like what I've read so far and do believe I will thoroughly enjoy this one when I finally get through it, but it is just too slow motion for me. At the moment I feel as though there was no purpose to the first 15% of the book; the story didn't add to the overall flavor of the book or to the mute boy's story at all. And it's entirely possible that will change, but I just don't have the time or gumption to keep trying with this one right now. I'm hoping to pull it back out later and DNF at 20%I like what I've read so far and do believe I will thoroughly enjoy this one when I finally get through it, but it is just too slow motion for me. At the moment I feel as though there was no purpose to the first 15% of the book; the story didn't add to the overall flavor of the book or to the mute boy's story at all. And it's entirely possible that will change, but I just don't have the time or gumption to keep trying with this one right now. I'm hoping to pull it back out later and give it a go then.Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.
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  • Ashleigh Heaton
    January 1, 1970
    This one is really special, you guys.
  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    This is an exceptional debut novel. Simon Jimenez is clearly a skilled storyteller and is an exciting new voice in science fiction. His prose is beautiful and in The Vanished Birds he seamlessly weaves multiple threads into a tightly-plotted tour de force.The pace is slow, but measured, as each character is given ample time to establish themselves. As we bounce from vignette to vignette and from character to character the plot is always moving forward as the overarching story comes into focus. This is an exceptional debut novel. Simon Jimenez is clearly a skilled storyteller and is an exciting new voice in science fiction. His prose is beautiful and in The Vanished Birds he seamlessly weaves multiple threads into a tightly-plotted tour de force.The pace is slow, but measured, as each character is given ample time to establish themselves. As we bounce from vignette to vignette and from character to character the plot is always moving forward as the overarching story comes into focus. When the dust settles we’re left with a profound and deeply human story told on an epic scale across millennia. I loved it.See this review and others at The Speculative Shelf.
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