Nia Imani is a woman out of place and outside of time. Decades of travel through the stars are condensed 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; all she has left is work. Alone and adrift, she lives only for the next paycheck, until the day she meets a mysterious boy, fallen from the sky.
A boy, broken by his past.
The scarred child does not speak, his only form of communication the beautiful and haunting music he plays on an old wooden flute. Captured by his songs and their strange, immediate connection, Nia decides to take the boy in. And over years of starlit travel, 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. The past hungers for him, and when it catches up, it threatens to tear this makeshift family apart.
To start off this review I have to send a thank you in the direction of NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Now, to gather all my thoughts in one place regarding The Vanished Birds. This book was a pretty wild ride. As with most books, there were things I liked and things that I did not. Let’s start with what I liked.
I liked that the plot was brought back around to relate to the things introduced at the beginning of the story. I was about halfway through and wondering what the point of the first chapter or so, but it all came together in the end in a very skillful way. I also really adored the found family aspect of the story. There were a few different dynamics, but I eventually grew to love all of them. So much happens in this book that I’m really not even sure how to get into the details of it, so I’m just not going to. I think the characters were all very well developed and I cared about them all, even the terrible ones. Realistic and compelling characters is something the author did very well.
Now, I didn’t love that the beginning jumped around with all of the different people we need to meet. The book starts off with a, for lack of a better word, primitive society. We follow a boy as he grows into a man and then an elder of his community. We see him develop a relationship with someone who visits his people once every fifteen years. This part I really enjoyed, especially because it clearly related to the rest of the story. We meet the boy in these chapters and he is handed from the man we saw age to Nia, the space traveler. But then, suddenly the next chapter is about someone completely new and many years in the past. This transition was very jarring. It’s something I can appreciate now having finished the book and seeing how this was brought full circle with the rest of the story, but at the time I really didn’t care for it. This jarring transition happens again when we’re back with Nia and the boy, as they create a new space crew and the perspective becomes the writings of one of the new crew members. His writings are full of completely unneeded details that I really didn’t see how they furthered the story. I liked this character but several times found myself skimming to get back to the relevant parts. Despite these jarring transitions I found myself easily and very much invested in the characters and their adventures.
Overall. this wasn’t a perfect book, but it was one that I enjoyed. I found the characters likable and their mission exciting. I wouldn’t call it a quick read, but it was a story I devoured.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.