Reviews

Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer

ouroborian's review against another edition

Go to review page

challenging dark emotional informative mysterious reflective sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.25

musingswithmiranda's review against another edition

Go to review page

4.0

I received an ARC of this book from a Goodreads giveaway hosted by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All opinions are my own.

Jeff VanderMeer is an author that I think releases some of the coolest books. I appreciate how he captures such a strange and at times confusing vibe in all of his books alongside issues regarding the environment.

Hummingbird Salamander is a speculative thriller that follows a security consultant called “Jane Smith” as she attempts to unravel a mystery. Jane receives an envelope with a key that leads her to a storage unit where she finds a taxidermied hummingbird and clues mentioning a taxidermied salamander. Jane learns that the woman who left the note for her is named Silvina and is a reputed ecoterrorist. By taking the hummingbird, Jane launches herself into a world of secrets and danger. She soon becomes fixated on finding answers, but time is running out and danger closes in on her and her family.

I am always amazed by Jeff VanderMeer’s writing. While it does confuse me at times, I genuinely love it. I think he creates something so unique and compelling in each book. I find his books to be very immersive, and this one was no different. Every time I was reading it, I did not want to put it down. The way the story unfolds really pulls readers in. There are so many layers and messages to this book with climate change, endangered and extinct wildlife, ecoterrorism, conspiracies, warfare, privacy, security, and technology. I like how he structured the narrative so readers and Jane were uncovering things at the same time too. I honestly had no idea where the mystery was going.

This book is also set up in a way that makes it feel real and atmospheric despite everything else being so cryptic. As a reader, I was invested in it more because of this. VanderMeer tends to do a great job with highlighting real issues without overshadowing the story or being repetitive. His works have this relatable quality even when they are confusing and weird.

There is a wider cast of characters that can sometimes get lost in the midst of everything else, but following Jane keeps the story somewhat focused. At times, it felt like I needed a reminder of who everyone was or how they were involved. I do think this added to the experience because it mirrored what I think Jane must have felt while trying to uncover secrets and solve the mystery.

Hummingbird Salamander made for a very distinctive reading experience. It reminded me of how I felt reading Annihilation for the first time. I was definitely immersed into the story and could not wait to figure out all the answers. If you like VanderMeer’s other books, I would say this one is a must read!

*Content warning: violence, death, loss of a loved one, drowning, animal death*

Thank you to Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Goodreads for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel before its release on April 6th, 2021.

donnamariestewart's review against another edition

Go to review page

2.0

I have read and enjoyed previous works by VanderMeer and was excited to dive into his latest. For those that have read the Southern Reach trilogy, this book differs. I would describe it as a speculative eco-thriller set in contemporary times. The beginning of the book drew me in, but it quickly lost momentum and turned into a sluggish mystery with frustratingly incomprehensible character motivations throughout. It did pick up towards the very end, but it was a struggle to get there. There were moments when VanderMeer’s vivid writing leapt from the page, but these were too infrequent. Still, I appreciate the VanderMeer’s ability to create a wholly new story that refuses to be neatly categorized in a genre and look forward to more of his thought-provoking imaginings.

eliaa's review against another edition

Go to review page

just got bored

fishface's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous dark mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

2.0

Underwhelming given how much I've enjoyed the rest of VanderMeer's work. 

brothmom420's review against another edition

Go to review page

mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No

3.0

nolbank07's review against another edition

Go to review page

medium-paced

4.0

wannieh's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous dark mysterious reflective sad

2.0

janna137's review against another edition

Go to review page

adventurous dark mysterious reflective sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.5

amelia9100's review against another edition

Go to review page

The amount of taxidermy was off-putting to me, and the destruction of the taxidermy doubly so. People in my book club loved it, but it wasn't for me.