Hummingbird Salamander

Narrated by Lisa Flanagan
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Pub Date 06 Apr 2021 | Archive Date 08 Jun 2021

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Description

From the author of Annihilation, a brilliant speculative thriller of dark conspiracy, endangered species, and the possible end of all things


Security consultant “Jane Smith” receives an envelope with a key to a storage unit that holds a taxidermied hummingbird and clues leading her to a taxidermied salamander. Silvina, the dead woman who left the note, is a reputed ecoterrorist and the daughter of an Argentine industrialist. By taking the hummingbird from the storage unit, Jane sets in motion a series of events that quickly spin beyond her control.


Soon, Jane and her family are in danger, with few allies to help her make sense of the true scope of the peril. Is the only way to safety to follow in Silvina’s footsteps? Is it too late to stop? As she desperately seeks answers about why Silvina contacted her, time is running out—for her and possibly for the world.


Hummingbird Salamander is Jeff VanderMeer at his brilliant, cinematic best, wrapping profound questions about climate change, identity, and the world we live in into a tightly plotted thriller full of unexpected twists and elaborate conspiracy.

From the author of Annihilation, a brilliant speculative thriller of dark conspiracy, endangered species, and the possible end of all things


Security consultant “Jane Smith” receives an envelope with...


Advance Praise

“Hummingbird Salamander is harrowing, gripping, and profound. It’s both a thriller and a requiem for a disappearing world. I expect this novel will haunt me for a long time.”

-Emily St. John Mandel, New York Times bestselling author


“A strange, seductive eco-thriller ripe for our era.”

-Silvia Moreno-Garcia, New York Times bestselling author


“Exquisite prose pulls the reader deep into the labyrinthine plot. VanderMeer reinforces his place as one of today’s most innovative writers.”

-Publishers Weekly (starred review)


“The prolific VanderMeer moves from fantasy into noir territory with this version of an eco-thriller…A daring change of genres, and an entertaining whirlwind at that.”

-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


“A riveting story of environmental plunder…VanderMeer knocks his conspiracy thriller out of the park.”

-Booklist (starred review)


“This gripping eco-thriller pulls readers into a world of danger, mystery, and obsession. Surprising, suspenseful, and compelling, Hummingbird Salamander is in turns insidious and explosive, heartrending and beautiful. Riveting.”

-Meg Gardiner, author of the UNSUB series


“Hummingbird Salamander is a profound and incendiary thriller hurtling backward from the end of the world. Jeff VanderMeer’s tale of ecological and personal obsession inhabits that strange, surreal space where the natural world and human ambition collide—a space almost no other writer has chronicled with as much reverence and imaginative lucidity. The result is a detective story unlike any I’ve read before, futuristic in bearing but deeply relevant to this present, dangerous moment.”

-Omar El Akkad, author of American War


“This is an astonishing book, topical and madly compelling. A timely, unsettling novel of obsession and descent—a thriller equal parts ecological and psychological, whose puzzle warns of a natural world on the edge of ruination. There’s an urgency to it, but it’s not preachy. Jeff VanderMeer shines in revealing our current dystopia.”

-Chuck Wendig, New York Times bestselling author


“Hummingbird Salamander is harrowing, gripping, and profound. It’s both a thriller and a requiem for a disappearing world. I expect this novel will haunt me for a long time.”

-Emily St. John Mandel, ...


Available Editions

EDITION Audiobook, Unabridged
ISBN 9781982501020
PRICE $19.95 (USD)
DURATION 11 Hours, 40 Minutes

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (AUDIO)

Average rating from 24 members


Featured Reviews

I love Jeff Vandermeer’s novels. Why? Because the worlds he creates are at once both foreign and recognizable. You instantly are plunged into a murky web, unsure exactly what has transpired. Here, in Hummingbird Salamander the reader is issued into a world just a bit beyond our present day. Vandermeer addresses his usual themes of climate change, pollution, animal extinction, pandemics, and gradual decline of the environment. The protagonist of Hummingbird Salamander is Jane Smith, a security consultant, six feet tall, 230 lbs, a former wrestler/ weightlifter, who receives a mysterious missive from Silvinia, a woman known as an Argentinian eco- terrorist. You aren’t really sure what’s going on, but you are right in the thick of it while it happens, inhaling the smoke along with Jane, as the world burns. This is a wild ride of a mystery, sure to thrill Vandermeer’s many fans.

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Hummingbird Salamander is a speculative thriller that follows a security consultant called “Jane Smith” as she attempts to unravel a mystery. Jane receives an envelope with a key that leads her to a storage unit where she finds a taxidermied hummingbird and clues mentioning a taxidermied salamander. Jane learns that the woman who left the note for her is named Silvina and is a reputed ecoterrorist. By taking the hummingbird, Jane launches herself into a world of secrets and danger. She soon becomes fixated on finding answers, but time is running out and danger closes in on her and her family. I am always amazed by Jeff VanderMeer’s writing. While it does confuse me at times, I genuinely love it. I think he creates something so unique and compelling in each book. I find his books to be very immersive, and this one was no different. Every time I was reading it, I did not want to put it down. The way the story unfolds really pulls readers in. There are so many layers and messages to this book with climate change, endangered and extinct wildlife, ecoterrorism, conspiracies, warfare, privacy, security, and technology. I like how he structured the narrative so readers and Jane were uncovering things at the same time too. I honestly had no idea where the mystery was going. This book is also set up in a way that makes it feel real and atmospheric despite everything else being so cryptic. As a reader, I was invested in it more because of this. VanderMeer tends to do a great job with highlighting real issues without overshadowing the story or being repetitive. His works have this relatable quality even when they are confusing and weird. There is a wider cast of characters that can sometimes get lost in the midst of everything else, but following Jane keeps the story somewhat focused. At times, it felt like I needed a reminder of who everyone was or how they were involved. I do think this added to the experience because it mirrored what I think Jane must have felt while trying to uncover secrets and solve the mystery. Hummingbird Salamander made for a very distinctive reading experience. It reminded me of how I felt reading Annihilation for the first time. I was definitely immersed into the story and could not wait to figure out all the answers. If you like VanderMeer’s other books, I would say this one is a must read!

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“Jane Smith”, an unnamed security consultant, becomes embroiled in turmoil when a taxidermied hummingbird is sent to her by a mysterious stranger. This launches her into an elaborate conspiracy and sets her on a dangerous path to discover a taxidermied salamander. What is she willing to risk to find the answers? Is it worth it? I haven’t read any other books by Jeff VanderMeer, but when I read the premise of Hummingbird Salamander, I was intrigued. Thrillers and suspense books are my go-to, and I was very interested in the endangered species aspect of the narrative. And overall, the book was very interesting, suspenseful, and worth the read, but I think there are a few things worth noting. “Jane”, the MC, is neither a likeable nor a reliable narrator. She is very cryptic, and jumps fall over the place in her narration. This makes portions of the book hard to follow along with and made the novel very confusing at times. One of my biggest personal pet-peeves is unlikeable narrators, and “Jane” fits the bill. She implodes her whole life unnecessarily, and every time I don’t think she can get worse, she does. The book is also written in a stream of consciousness narration style. I have read books like this before, so this didn’t bother me – I actually really enjoyed it. But I know that this style will not be everyone’s cup of tea. This is a thriller, but is also not your typical thriller. There is no set time period or location given, and there is a number of science fiction/dystopian vibes. All of this creates a different thriller than most other thrillers marketed today. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes unlikable narrators, environmentalism, and stream of consciousness narration – this book will not disappoint! 3.75 stars. I received a free digital ARC from NetGalley and Blackstone Audiobooks in exchange for an honest review.

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Great audiobook! Great writing gave this an enjoyable literary voice. Mixing thriller, sci-fi, climate change, and family drama is a big feat. that I think works quite well with the somewhat-anonymous MC. Definitely a book and approach that will be unexpected for many readers but never too dull to ignore.

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Eco-thriller is not a genre I run to, but damn, this was fantastic. Thought-swirling and mind-bending in just the right way. I recommend this to everyone I meet.

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Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer is a unique eco-thriller that ultimately made me re-examine my relationship with the environment. While this is a departure from VanderMeer’s previous books, it does deal with his usual themes of the environment and how we are destroying it. I have complicated feelings about this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed the ride of discovering who Silvina was, what she was involved in, and why she sent that letter to Jane. Yet, I didn’t particularly like the reveal of the connection between Silvina and Jane. It felt underwhelming. I also had my issues with Jane and some of her actions and how she became so swept up in Silvina’s cause. Lastly, part 3 of the book lost some of the momentum built in the first two parts, but things did pick up again in part 4. The ending was rather depressing, but I wasn’t expecting a particularly happy ending when we are dealing with a dying world. It’s scary to think what the future of our world will look like. Overall, Hummingbird Salamander is an incredibly unique eco-thriller with beautiful prose and insight into our relationship with the environment. While I had a few quibbles with Jane and where the story ended up, I would still recommend this book. This book also made me learn to appreciate nature more and to not take so much from it. Thanks to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for an ARC of Hummingbird Salamander in exchange for an honest review.

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While this was my first foray into the weird fiction world of Jeff VanderMeer, Hummingbird Salamander did not scare me off. While I spent a fair amount of the novel basically clueless as to what was going on, I also couldn't turn the book off. After receiving a weird note and piece of taxidermy for a known ecoterrorist, security consultant "Jane Smith," goes on an unsanctioned mission to follow Silvina's footsteps and get to the bottom of the mystery of her death and the rare hummingbird she's been given. Lisa Flanagan's narration of Jane's race through clues held the perfect tension to keep a reader literally plowing forward through the muck with Jane. You may not have any idea what's actually going on till the absolute very end, but you'll be too sucked in to care about being confused. Apparently this embodies VanderMeer's "weird fiction" at its finest and I'm certainly ready for another does of crazy.

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One day the sun will expand and engulf the Earth. Until this day, we have to live with the knowledge that we disappointed Jeff. Whatever shall we do? This is a great story of confusion, mental illness, desperation, and fear. Fear for the future, for humanity, for humans in general and specific. We are all trash, especially you reading this right now, you are trash and your face is trash. You should feel bad for existing and your children are particularly ugly and uncreative. If you don't have children, its because YOU are particularly ugly and uncreative. I understand the point; pollution is bad and humans wrecked the environment and now we have to live (or die) with the consequences of our past decisions. Well, the decisions of humans past and our decisions to not fix things. This seems a fair criticism of humanity and capitalism. The book is well written. I state that as fact because VanderMeer is a great writer. He gets words and how to use them, and I can't take that away from him. The story is good. I like the parts that small misunderstandings lead to big consequences because life do be like that sometimes. My gripe is the soliloquies about how bad humans are. One rant would be acceptable to show how the character processes information and interacts with the world; chapters' worth of ranting is a distraction and annoying. I didn't say wrong, I said distracting and annoying. I recommend this book for the writing quality and a fun plot with a meaningful and important message. Because even with the distractions and annoyingness of VanderMeer on his soapbox, he does write a good book. **I received an advance copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer, narrated by Lisa Flanagan. Thanks to NetGalley and Blackstone Audiobooks for a complimentary audio ARC for an honest review. This was definitely a gripping thriller of a read. It was very thought-provoking on our role in the destruction of our environment and the solutions we can find to repair it. The narration was excellent. She kept the suspense going until the very end. #HummingbirdSalamander #NetGalley

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