The Vanished Birds

The Vanished Birds

by Simon Jimenez

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Overview

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.

“The best of what science fiction can be: a thought-provoking, heartrending story about the choices that define our lives.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A solitary ship captain, drifting through time.

Nia Imani is a woman out of place. Traveling through the stars condenses decades 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. She lives only for the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky.

A mute child, burdened with unimaginable power.


The scarred boy does not speak, his only form of communication the haunting music he plays on an old wooden flute. Captured by his songs and otherworldly nature, Nia decides to take the boy in to live amongst her crew. Soon, 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.

A millennia-old woman, poised to burn down the future.

Fumiko Nakajima designed the ships that allowed humanity to flee a dying Earth. One thousand years later, she now regrets what she has done in the name of progress. When chance brings Fumiko, Nia, and the child together, she recognizes the potential of his gifts, and what will happen if the ruling powers discover him. So she sends the pair to the distant corners of space to hide them as she crafts a plan to redeem her old mistakes. 

But time is running out. The past hungers for the boy, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593128985
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/14/2020
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 82,063
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Simon Jimenez’s short fiction has appeared in Canyon Voices and 100 Word Story’s anthology of flash fiction, Nothing Short Of. He received his MFA from Emerson College. This is his first novel.

Read an Excerpt

1

Six Harvests

He was born with an eleventh finger. A small bead of flesh and bone beside his right pinky. The doctor calmed the worried parents and told them the nub was a harmless thing. “But still,” he said, unlacing a small cloth pouch, “a farmer needs only ten fingers to work the dhuba.” He coaxed the child to sleep with the smoke of torched herbs, and sliced the nub from the hand with a cauterizing knife. And though the mother knew her baby felt no pain in his medicated sleep, she winced when the flesh was parted, and clutched him to her breast, praying that there would be no memory of the hurt when he woke, while her husband, unable to resist indulging in his hedonism even then, breathed deep the doctor’s herb smoke, and was spelled by a vision of the future—in his dilated pupils his son, a full-­grown man, handsome and powerful, with a big house at the top of the hill. The new governor of the Fifth Village. To commemorate this vision, he had the finger boiled of its flesh, and its bones placed in a corked glass jar, which he shook on wistful days, listening to the clack of good omens as he whispered to his baby, “You are going to run this place one day.” The boy burbled in his arms, too young to recognize the small and varied ways life was contriving to keep him put.

They called him Kaeda, the old name of this world.

Kaeda grew up proud of the scar on his right hand, the shape of it changing over the years. When he was seven, the healed tissue rippled down the side of his palm like a troubled river. He was happy to show the other children the mark when he was asked, and he giggled as they stroked the skin with furrowed brows, at once impressed and unnerved by its texture. Some children called him cursed; those were the children who learned from their parents to distrust the unusual. To them, he shoved his scar under their noses and confronted them with the fact of it, repeating the words of his father: “I’m going to run this place one day!” and through sheer force of will convinced them that the scar on his hand was a lucky thing.

He had a natural charisma. The caretakers doted on him, and the other kids played the games he wanted to play, believed what he believed. Everyone but a girl named Jhige, who never missed an opportunity to push back against his wild declarations, matching pride with pride as she countered his wild theories on why the sky was red, and why the smell of the air changed during the day; why everything smelled soft and sweet in the morning and sour as a kiri fruit at dusk. “And your scar isn’t special,” Jhige shouted. “It just means you were born wrong!” They wrestled in the yellow grass until the caretakers separated them. They fought like dogs most days, but despite the bruises he might nurse on the way home, he always emerged from the fights unbothered, certain that she was only jealous that it was he who was destined for greatness, and not her, though what greatness that was, he did not know, and would not, until the day the offworlders arrived.

Before that day, he was only familiar with the stories his parents shared: how every fifteen years the offworlders broke the sky with their cloth-­and-­metal ships and landed in the plains east of the village to collect the harvest of dhuba seeds. His father told him that this special day was called Shipment Day, and that on every Shipment Day, a great party was held for both the offworlders and the farmers. “A party you will never forget,” he promised.

His mother laughed from the other room. “Unless you drink too much.”

“The drink is half the fun,” his father countered.

Kaeda was unable to sleep the night before his first Shipment Day. His mind was too alive with the stories; the new faces he would see, the new hands not stained purple from the dhuba fields. He gazed through his small bedroom window at the black sky littered with stars, with no regard for the late hour, as he imagined what it would be like to leap from light to light. What places there were, on the other side. When his mother came to collect him in the morning he was exhausted, all his energy spent the night before, conjuring these fantasies. He dragged his feet into his sandals and complained loudly as they marched with the other villagers to the plains east of town, begging for rest until his father sighed and carried him on his back, where he drifted in and out, unaware of time or location, only the warm and thick smell of the man’s shoulder, like the embers of a dying fire.

He slept.

And then the sky cracked and he woke up with a shriek and his father laughed and pointed upward and he followed his father’s finger up to where, against the slate of red sky, twelve thin green lines arced above the horizon line, the end points gaining in size until, not two minutes later, the giant metallic beasts touched down on the carpet of grass with ground-­shaking thumps, one after another, the vibrations attacking his heart, swollen now as it occurred to him that he had never seen such large creations, nothing as intricate as their cloth wings and the hull panels that gleamed under the sun, or the sonic boom of their hangar doors that dropped onto the dirt like jaws mid-­shout, or the people who emerged from within of every variant shade of skin, some lighter than his, others darker, dressed in clothing that seemed woven out of the stuff of starlight. With a nauseous rush the scope of his world telescoped outward to accommodate the breadth of these awesome quantities. His whole body shivered. And then he pissed himself. His father cursed and lowered him to the ground, cringing at the stain on his back.

The offworlders were shown to the banquet cushions in the center of the Fifth Village. Bowls of spirits and plates of dhuban pastries—long, purple, and flaky—were served on wide platters. Kaeda could not see the offworlders from where he sat—a minor disappointment, as he stuffed himself with sweet breads and bowls of juice, feeling warm and content between the motions of his parents’ bodies, pleased by the sound of hard snaps when his mother cracked open nuts with her muscular fingers, and the bellow of his father’s drunken, joyful laugh. He felt a satisfaction with the world so complete he even smiled at Jhige, who was with her own family on the other end of the long table, and she, startled, returned his smile with a small wave of her own before turning back to her uncle, who was in the midst of another tall tale about the Butcher Beast of the southern forest—horror stories with which the young would startle themselves awake later that night, and stare into the dark corners of their bedrooms, waiting to be devoured. The adults exploded with laughter.

After the banquet, when the hard drinking began, the caretakers and new parents brought the children back to their homes. But Kaeda wasn’t finished with the night—he had yet to meet an offworlder—so he planned his escape from the group. He told his friend Sado to lie to the caretakers and say that he had run home ahead of them, and before Sado could so much as nod, the boy was gone, hugging the side of the squat buildings, back to the bonfire and the harsh scent of liquor.

It was there, at the end of the alley, before the path opened up into the plaza, that he saw her: a woman, alone on a bench, silhouetted by the fire.

She held a wooden flute to her lips. Her fingers spidered up and down the length of the instrument, playing music that reminded Kaeda of the sound of wind whistling through a cracked-­open door. He watched her from the shadows. Even sitting down, she seemed tall. She was black-­skinned, her hair shaved to the scalp, and was dressed in an outfit simpler than her friends: a white top with a collar cut down to the chest bone and dark bottoms that hugged the curves of her legs. Each note she played on her flute made the bonfire ahead of them dance, or maybe it was the fire that was influencing the music, or the stars, or all of it, working in concert, together. The song was the night itself. It was in his people’s laughter as they danced by the fire, and it was in the smell of fruit and smoke in the air; it was in the light, caught in the beads of sweat on her collarbone. It was everywhere. The woman’s breath flumed through the wooden tube, and bellowed heat into his belly, gladly mesmerizing him, until her large eyes shot up and saw him.

The music stopped.

She spoke with two voices, one in a language he did not understand, and the other his own. It sounded as though she were haunted by her own ghost, she her own distant echo. He was too young to recognize the doubled voice as a quirk of her translator device, believing instead it was a kind of offworlder magic.

“Did you like it?” she asked, referring to the music.

He nodded. She stood up and approached him. Her shadow was long; it ran past him, into the dark fringe at the end of the alley. There was an instinct in him to run, as though some part of him knew that if he should stay there would be no turning back, but he ignored this instinct and planted himself to the ground, stubbornly so. She crouched before him, eye to eye. Close enough for him to smell the flowered chemistry of her skin.

“Take it,” her doubled voice said, handing him her flute.

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The Vanished Birds 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
diane92345 3 months ago
Set on a foreign planet, Vanished Birds begins by telling the tale of Kaeda. Kaeda falls in love with Nia at age 7. There is only one problem. She is an alien from an alternate timeline where Earth lays dead. Unfortunately, she visits Kaeda’s planet only once every fifteen years from his perspective—but only eight months have passed for Nia. Kaeda tells the story of how he ages while she stays in her thirties. Then one day a ship crashes on Kaeda’s planet with only one survivor. Kaeda is eighty-two but asks Nia to take the young boy back to the center hub of the universe on her ship. Nia agrees. On her ship, Captain Nia and the boy bond. But soon outside forces become interested in the boy. Will Nia be able to protect him? I loved the beautiful prose within Vanished Birds. The entire novel reads like a barely remembered dream or a forgotten but well-loved fable. The plot is masterful as well. It’s literary fiction dressed in a hard science fiction shell. The nature of family and capitalism are both explored within this marvelous book. It is hard to believe this is a debut novel. Even though Vanished Birds is not my usual thriller read, it is still one of my favorite stories this year. It is highly recommended. 5 stars! Thanks to Del Rey Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
MarziesReads 21 days ago
4.25ish Stars The Vanished Birds is that rare thing, a really haunting novel of science fiction. Nia Imani is a woman who is out of space and time with reference to everyone she knew, given her occupation as a space delivery runner, who takes odd jobs that have her traveling in pocket universes outside of time. Lovers age and fail and die and Nia lives on, aging slowly. Until one day, she receives into her care a child. Her aging lover Kaeda tells her of his mysterious arrival, seemingly crashing to his planet. The child does not speak and is covered in scars. He is afraid of everything. He does, however, love music and is soon playing a flute that Nia gave Kaeda. She agrees to transport the child to her company, Umbai's, station at Pelican, only to find that many people have an interest in this child, though she is unsure why. And first among them is Fumiko Nakijima, a woman with deep pockets and immense power. With feelings of attachment she has never known, Nia risks everything to provide this child a home, even if it means that she and her almost entirely new crew will be lurking on the outer fringes of the universe for fifteen years. Who or what is Ahro? What is the bond that links Nia and Ahro? What are home and family? A poignant and haunting story, Jimenez is a writer I'll eagerly read in the future. The author has provided a book club kit for this thought-provoking read on his website. I also listened to the audiobook, which was beautifully narrated by Shayna Small. I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Christine Sandquist 23 days ago
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
SevenAcreBooks 24 days ago
The Vanished Birds is an intriguing and beautifully written story of the importance of finding our place in the world, wherever that world may be. Following the intertwining lives of a pilot, a young boy, and the woman who changed the course of human history, The Vanished Birds explores the intricacies of family and the power of time. Gorgeously written, The Vanished Birds is a must read for lovers of literary science fiction. Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read and review this title. All opinions and mistakes are my own.
PatriciaFairweatherRomero 29 days ago
A Sci-Fi adventure. Nia Imani travels through time. Years are like months for her, but not for the people she has loved and known. They age, they die, but not Nia. Solitary Nia. But on one of her stops, she meets a boy that fell from the sky. The people in the area would just as soon see him gone. He doesn't speak, just plays the flute that long ago Nia gave to a man. When Nia leaves she takes the boy with her and together they travel the skies, each filling in the empty spots in each others life.  They become a family. But that is also threatened. The past wants the boy back and what will Nia do when it finds him? Good Read. NetGalley/ January 14th, 2020 by Del Rey Books
Persephonereads 3 months ago
4 out of 5 stars I would like to thank Netgalley and Del Rey Books for allowing me to read this novel in exchange for an honest review. Nia Imani has spent decades out of time. It may have been months for her but for everyone else it has been forever. She has watched so many people that she loves age and leave her all alone. Then one day a boy comes into her life and changes everything. She is no longer alone. She has a family. She must do everything she can to save the boy and keep her little family intact. This was an absolutely beautifully written science fiction novel that has a bit of a fairy tale feel to it. The only reason that I gave it a 4 out of 5 was because the ending felt a little flat. I absolutely loved the concept of this story,
CaptainsQuarters 3 months ago
Ahoy there me mateys!  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.  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. Arrrr! I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for me honest review.
lostinagoodbook 3 months ago
“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 a well crafted book, beautifully written. It’s easy for the reader to become attached to the main characters. Nia is a woman who lives a painfully lonely life, traveling through space in service to her employer. She stays the same age as she travels, while everyone she knows at home grows old and dies. She makes a connection with a strange, young boy who has the potential to completely change space travel. They grow attached to each other and a beautiful friendship develops. However, their world is one controlled by unbridled capitalism. Corporations completely control the use and advancement of technology and they only want to control the boy’s future. The novel is complicated. Beautiful, heartbreaking, hopeful, lonely, and imaginative. It’s another really good book of the sort that I find very hard to write about. How do you properly convey your feelings about a thing? This is why I’m not an author, and why I so admire people like Mr. Jimenez, who seem to do so with such grace. I fully recommend this book to anyone who loves science fiction … heck, and even those who don’t. Song for this book: Total Eclipse of the Heart – Jill Andrews Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley
DG_Reads 3 months ago
I received a complimentary galley of THE VANISHED BIRDS by Simon Jimenez for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and Del Rey Books! THE VANISHED BIRDS begins in an agriculture community where a young boy comes to live after a crash, waiting for a ride off planet. Nia Imani is the captain of the vessel arriving for the harvest and winds up taking the young boy in. Nia is used to living life in a very interesting way, traveling across both space and time which doesn’t allow for many lasting relationships apart from those with her crew. This boy is a mystery and he quickly finds a way into Nia’s heart. There is something special about him and others are interested in seeing what he will grow up to be able to do. When Nia is asked to keep custody of him until he is fully developed, she cannot resist the opportunity to keep him in her life for a longer period of time, even though it means leaving almost everything and everyone behind. I didn’t know much about THE VANISHED BIRDS going into this one apart from reading the synopsis before requesting a copy on Netgalley. I was a bit surprised that the book begins in a rather rural, simple setting with the POV being a field worker working the crop that Nia will come to harvest. It was an interesting way to introduce the advance technology that Nia employs to fold time such that she appears on the planet after many years from the farmers’ POV while in Nia’s POV very little time has passed. We also get a section of the novel which delves into the development of the space stations (all named for birds) that Nia reports back to. In some ways these sections of the book felt a bit like little novellas with minimal overlap to the main story, but the author does draw the stories all together as the book progresses. I really enjoyed the world building and the depictions of future technologies and politics tied to the space stations. This book was a bit slow paced for me at times when the story went on what felt like tangents at the time. In the end though I can see where most of those ‘tangents’ were necessary in the bigger picture. Overall I really enjoyed this one and thought it was beautifully written. I feel like there were some areas that could have been tightened up a bit and the ending was a little underwhelming for me after the rather grand size of the book’s build up, but overall it was a great read and one I’d recommend for SciFi fans when it comes out on 1/14/2020!
Anonymous 3 months ago
This book blew me away. Easily a favorite book of the year. And honestly, its the kinda of book one should go into blind, It's Sci-fi, but not overly technical, it reads more like a dream than science class, so if your looking for a jumping in point for Sci-fi this is it. Beautiful and haunting. The Vanished Birds is a stunning debut novel about what it is to be human on a grand scale and touching on issues of today. It's exactly the book I didn't know I needed, and one that will stay in your mind long after you close the cover.
JCNash 3 months ago
The Vanished Birds is a modern space opera with a fascinating premise that immediately caught my eye. The novel revolves around Nia Imani, who by chance takes charge of a young boy that mysteriously falls from the sky to a farm planet that is part of her shipping rotation. This one event unknowingly sparks a huge shift in Imani's life that leads to a life on the fringe with an unlikely found family. The Vanished Birds is smartly executed and plotted. Jimenez's writing propelled me through the story, keeping me wholly immersed as the story proceeds. The novel does what the best science fiction does - it used an entirely fictional world to highlight ongoing struggles in our very real world, like colonialism and increasing corporate power that profits on the heads of the powerless. Through Nia's relationship to her ward, Jimenez also explores familial love that exists beyond blood, and what lengths Nia will go to to save him. If you enjoy a good space opera that takes you for a ride, definitely check The Vanished Birds. Fascinating premise, fascinating world, and characters you love. Thank you Netgalley and Random House Publishing for my free review copy. All opinions are my own.
Jolie 3 months ago
I was on the fence about reviewing The Vanished Birds. To make up my mind, I read the first four reviews on Goodreads. That is something I never do, but I was conflicted. The reviews were evenly conflicted about the book. So, I decided to take a chance on it. For the most part, it was a good book. But some parts made me wonder why they were written, even after finishing the book. The Vanished Birds had a slow to a medium-paced plotline. When the book focused on Nia and her relationship with Ahro/their travels until he was 16, the book moved at a medium-paced. But, when the book focused on Fumiko Nakajima (past and present) and her travels, it slowed to a crawl. I will be honest; I skimmed over a large part of her story. I started paying attention when she was on the secret base and the events afterward. I enjoyed reading about the type of space travel that Nia used to go between planets. It fascinated me. I couldn’t imagine being in space for what I would have thought would be a few months and to find out that 15 years have passed. Nia was a tough cookie to like during the book. She made some questionable decisions that affected the people around her. Nia kept people are arm’s length. She did unbend, slightly, when she met Ahro. She unbent, even more, when Fumiko asked her to keep him safe for 15 years. But, I couldn’t quite bring myself to like her. When Fumiko was introduced in The Vanished Birds, I didn’t understand what her role was. I mean, it was explained relatively early on that she was the founder of the colonies in space, and she invented the engine that allowed space travel. But I didn’t know why her backstory was being told. It didn’t go with the flow of Nia’s story. Even when her story was brought to the present, I still wondered: “Why?” I also wondered why she was so invested in Ahro. It was explained, and it didn’t show her in a good light. I loved Ahro. I loved seeing his character growth throughout the book. I wasn’t prepared for what his secret was, though. I honestly thought that it had something to do with music and his affinity for it. So, when it was revealed, I was shocked. I loved watching his relationship with Nia and her crew grow, which made what happened and who caused it such a shock. I do wish that more time had been spent on the times they visited the planets. There were so many locations!!! All exotic and all made me want more. But that didn’t happen. I wasn’t a fan of the last half of the book. I had questions about what was going to happen to Nia and Ahro once the dust settles. I also had questions about Fumiko. I can only assume what happened to her. And then there is the question about where Ahro originally came from and who The Kind One was.
HannahMVestal 3 months ago
The Vanished Birds tells a story of love, friendship, family, betrayal, and music. It’s the story of Nia, a broken captain who finds a connection with a boy Ahro, and how far she will go to protect him. It’s the story of Ahro and his connection to music and how it connects him to those around him. Set against the backdrop of the stars, The Vanished Birds will capture your heart and imagination. I loved Nia, the rough captain with baggage to last centuries. I also loved her crews she had, and how she made the Debby feel like a family. I’m a sucker for space families. Ahro was adorable, and I enjoyed seeing him grow up. The theme of music throughout the book was wonderful, and the lyrical quality of the book makes the story perfect. The world building was unique and fascinating. I’m always fascinated by new worlds that are concocted in the minds of authors, and the worlds of The Vanished Birds is no exception. I love the concept of the Pelican, and Umbai is about as sinister as Weyland-Yutani from the Alien movies. As much as I love the book, it was a bit confusing at first. The first part of the book plays out like a novella, and I’m still not sure that much of the book needed to be dedicated to showing Nia’s connection to Umbai V. I know part of this is to show the passing of time in relation to what happens later in the story, but it still felt like a completely different story. There were other parts of the book I felt could have been tightened up as well, such as Fumiko’s story. The main characters are supposed to be Nia and Ahro, so the change in point of views to other characters was welcome in some areas, but fell flat in others despite the purpose it may have served. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. 2020 science fiction is off to a fantastic start with The Vanished Birds! Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book as an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
nfam 3 months ago
An Old Mural Connects Two Women Artists from Different Time Periods Morgan Christopher is serving time in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center for a crime she didn’t commit. It’s hard enough to be in jail, but it has also derailed Morgan’s desire for career as an artist. Then in a surprising twist two visitors come to the prison. Lisa Williams, the daughter of Jesse Jameson Williams a prominent artist, and Andrea Fuller, an attorney. They offer Morgan a chance to get out of prison immediately if she agrees to the terms of Jesse’s will. She will be expected to restore a seventy-year-old mural in two months for Jesse’s museum opening. The mural was painted in 1939 by Anna Dale. She was encouraged by her mother to enter a government contest to paint murals in post offices. Now her mother is dead and instead of winning a chance to paint a mural in Plainfield, New Jersey where she lives, she is given Edenton, North Carolina. When she arrives, she realizes that the project won’t be easy. The men who run the town wanted the local artist, Martin Drabble, to have the commission. Working in the town is difficult for Anna, and she discovers that the polite Southern atmosphere covers a myriad of secrets and prejudices. This story works well in two time periods. Both women are talented artists and their stores mesh perfectly to reveal the town secrets: racism, mental illness, abusive family relationships, and injustice, among others. The two women are strong characters faced by difficulties, some brought on by their own actions. The atmosphere is normal and yet there is an under current of tension that keeps the story moving. If you enjoy mysterious stories about strong women, this is a good one. I received this book from St. Martin’s Press for this review.
KarlieSch 3 months ago
"Take my day, but give me the night." I don't know exactly what I was expecting going into this book, but I could have never predicted what I was going to get out of it.  Absolutely beautiful and lyrical in it's writing, The Vanished Birds tells a story unlike any other I've ever read or heard.  It begins in a farming village and takes you throughout space and time.  Knowing it was classified as science fiction didn't prepare me for the overall vastness of this book. The depth of character and emotion was at times heartwrenching but relatable, even when the environment was unlike anywhere I'll ever be in my lifetime.  Simon Jimenez is extremely talented at creating a world unknown to ours, without having to spend time going into the details of the differences. The setting unfolds through the immersive and intricate storytelling. I highly recommend this book, even to those who don't normally prefer this genre. The beauty in the humanity is worth it alone.
Tessa_Pulyer 3 months ago
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 Birds It 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 Read It 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.