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Hummingbird Salamander Reviews

Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer

Hummingbird Salamander

Jeff VanderMeer

4.00 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Fourth Estate Ltd
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 15 Apr 2021
ISBN: 9780008299316

A speculative thriller about the end of all things, set in an unnamed part of the Pacific Northwest. A harrowing descent into a secret world.

4 stars out of 5
Simon Ings
22 Apr 2021

"This is natural history as police procedural; and life on Earth as the scene of a crime."

On the surface, it’s Smith’s growing fascination with Silvina, an industrialist’s daughter turned eco-protester turned bio-terrorist, that drives the narrative — this despite plentiful evidence that she is already dead. The story becomes a gripping kick-the-door-down investigation of wildlife smuggling that expands maniacally to include all that our planet has lost as the sixth extinction gathers pace. This very-near-future, avoid-the-apocalypse plot rattles along reliably enough, leaping from MacGuffin to MacGuffin, but in truth, something far richer is going on. This is natural history as police procedural; and life on Earth as the scene of a crime.


4 stars out of 5
Ashish Ghadiali
11 Apr 2021

"an enigmatic eco-thriller"

Hummingbird Salamander is an enigmatic eco-thriller that delivers in the same vein and on the subject of worlds – inner worlds such as the biosphere – that are coming apart. ... It’s set in a near future defined by escalating climate breakdown and neighbourhood drone patrols and tells the story of Jane Smith, a cybersecurity consultant, whose staid suburban existence in the Pacific north-west of America is thrown into turmoil when an anonymous barista delivers her a message and a key one morning, pointing her in turn towards the stuffed body of a hummingbird, now thought to be extinct.

4 stars out of 5
Lisa Tuttle
9 Apr 2021

"Metaphysical questions about our relationship to other forms of life run throughout the book"

Set in the very near future in the US Pacific Northwest, this unusual detective story could be classed as an eco-thriller, as Jane’s investigations touch on the international criminal trade in wildlife as well as forcing her to confront secrets buried in her own past. Jane, who once trained as a wrestler, is a wonderful creation: strong, stubborn, damaged and perpetually angry, frequently unsympathetic, always believable. This quirky, compelling book is likely to gain an even wider audience for its author, without disappointing his many SF fans.