Other Sellers on Amazon
Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required. Learn more
Read instantly on your browser with Kindle Cloud Reader.
Using your mobile phone camera - scan the code below and download the Kindle app.
Enter your mobile phone or email address
By pressing "Send link," you agree to Amazon's Conditions of Use.
You consent to receive an automated text message from or on behalf of Amazon about the Kindle App at your mobile number above. Consent is not a condition of any purchase. Message & data rates may apply.
Hummingbird Salamander Paperback
|New from||Used from|
Enhance your purchase
The Amazon Book Review
Book recommendations, author interviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now.
Frequently bought together
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Here's the thing: this novel is SO well written - the imagery, the characters, the tension, the chase and the action - that you are fully engulfed in the story and you can't wait to get to the end and then you don't want it to end. AND you cannot pick up another novel right away because it just won't be as good as this one. (I had to read some nonfiction for a while to clear my head.)
The end is unexpected and perfect. Enjoy the ride getting there.
I think the combination of the noir detective and climate disaster dystopia turned eco-terrorism got too gawky, the way Vandermeer did it. He wrote his protagonist, a wife and mother, abandon her family for a dead woman scientist she didn’t know that left her a taxidermied hummingbird and a manifesto scattered like breadcrumbs, all to follow down a rabbit hole. While she saw the world was burning, the skies change to a chemical green tinge, and a murky pandemic invade the species. “Jane” casually cheated on her husband with strangers (even though she was introverted), engaged in casual violence, and watched others get casually beaten, battered, and killed.
I’m confused as to why Vandermeer kept trotting out stereotypical villains and half-villains, who we obviously won’t care about, and set up scene after scene with these half-formed and half-baked characters. Some were caricatures that met cartoon fates. All the while, threaded through the novel, were the supposedly profound (?) words left by the dead Argentine scientist, Silvina, scion to a wealthy, powerful, criminal family. Criminal as in: wildlife trafficking and (maybe) bioweapons.
Anyway, most of the stuff written by Silvina seemed rather trite and coyly abstruse. Occasionally, an author will disguise an inability to shine a light by keeping us in perpetual darkness. Vandermeer seemed that way, or maybe he deals better with the cerebral than the emotional, (which he then sentimentalized at key plot turns). The novel was often busy with extraneous details of hiding finding, texting, calling that were essentially meaningless after a while. Instead of enlightening me, I was drowning in the drawn-out repetition and sociopathy of it all.
When everyone is a sociopath, what is really at stake? The world, I know--that’s what the author put up as the Holy Grail--saving the world. But Jane was constantly being beaten and bruised, either by accident or enemy. And we followed her step by step, car by car, and cars that trail cars, her and her “Shovel Pig,” her nickname for her jumbo handbag.
I learned some things that the internet could have taught me about hummingbirds and salamanders, but the ultimate reveal of the bird and the amphibian were anticlimactic. As far as ecology and wildlife trafficking, what I learned was choppy and randomly sequenced, so I got lost in the weeds, or in the pervasive dark. There’s not much one can figure out, either, since new, essential facts are unveiled right before each small discovery, and the build-up of one thing after another and another gummed it up for me. That, and “Jane’s” lot and lode of injuries. Ouch!
Then this over-the-top ending, which I think Vandermeer could have finessed more keenly. I can tell that he has talent, that maybe I’d like some of his other books. Perhaps this was a rushed quarantine-y book to meet the times. Or I’m just the wrong reader. The style felt forced and disingenuous. Of course others will find this exciting and adventurous, and I accept that I dropped out of caring about these characters left to save the world, even though I read the entire mythic tale, hoping to be converted. I’m sorry, Jeff Vandermeer, that I had to write this review. I can tell that this writer cares about humanity and other living things, more than what is conveyed, extinct or otherwise.
2.5 rounded down
It's a great read, a page-turner, as the protagonist follows the clues left by an accused ecoterrorist before her death. Very bad people start coming after her, but she won't relent in her search regardless of the consequences. She is tough and fights back.
We learn about her dysfunctional family and childhood on a farm. She is full of anger. I found the character very compelling. More and more people are likely to make risky and dangerous choices as the ecosystem is destroyed and human society unravels.
For several years in junior high and high school I kept tiger salamanders as pets that I had caught in the nearby woods. They were easy to take care of -- I fed them earthworms in the summer and mealworms in the winter. I eventually let them go back into the woods. That gave me a powerful connection to the novel.
This is the first VanderMeer novel I have read. It won't be the last.
Top reviews from other countries
Not quite as haunting as some of his other work, but lots of striking images that linger past the end of the book.
Any comments about the plot may be akin to spoilers.
But one can say that this is one of the best ever depictions of the current and near future world -and through the eyes of a very unique protagonist.
An outstanding read. Highly recommended.
The literary skills of the author to vividly create scenes place him as truly from one of the most gifted.