Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne astounds. It’s bizarre, unsettling, gentle, insane, violent, and intimate all at once. The best survival stories help us question which shreds of humanity are the most vital to hold on to, and remind us of how staggeringly important the simplest things can be, especially when they fall out of reach. Borne does all this and more, wheeling us through Vandermeer’s lushly painted, poisoned dystopian landscape, introducing us eye to eye to a newly-sentient organism learning to understand itself, the war-torn scavenger who becomes his mother, and the harrowed, hollow dealer/lover/mad scientist who fortifies their home. Did I mention that the city is ruled over by a merciless, genetically engineered, three-stories-tall grizzly bear deity that can fly? It sounds absolutely mental, doesn’t it? I’m here to assure you that it is, in the very best of ways. If you’re willing to give it a go, Borne will hold your heart just on the edge of breaking, page by page, until its fantastic final note.