This book is a mix of crazy and genius. At first, the book reads like a gripping script of a classic noir film (I have an affinity for old-school black and white noir), then it veers off into the weeds. I was in the thick of some racing madness like in the House of Leaves. It was like traveling in the head of a paranoid schizophrenic who was off their medication. I couldn’t quite tell if it was supposed to be real or just an elaborate string of hallucinations like in Shutter Island. If that is the effect Jeff Vandermeer was going for, then . . . Bravo!
There were moments midway into the story where I felt the origin of all this chaos would unfold and reveal itself as a rare exotic flower blooms at midnight, that we were digging in to find some really deep, really painful revelation, but most of it landed like an inside joke that the reader just wasn’t fully included in.
Hummingbird Salamander is considered by many to be an Eco-thriller, a niche that’s new to me. Considering the state of things though it may be an ever-burgeoning trend. I have the same concerns of most inhabitants of this world . . . about our human folly and continued existence, trudging ever faster toward a fate, without enough concern of the environment. For me, this book did pose a question, one advocating the protection of a future for nature at all costs. We currently sacrifice and exploit our resources in the name of human survival . . . the ironic result will be the existence of neither. What are we willing to do about it?
I write historical fiction that often includes government spies, organized crime, and deep dark secrets, so I thought this book would be right up my alley. Alas, it felt more like a damaged lover who built a protective wall too high and wouldn’t let me in.
I sincerely thank NetGalley and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for allowing me to read an advance copy of Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff Vandermeer for an honest review.