The Vanished Birds

Del Rey: Ballantine. Jan. 2020. 400p. ISBN 9780593128985. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780593128992. SF
DEBUT In the Fifth Village during Shipment Day, dubha seeds are collected by offworlders. Kaeda is one of the harvesters, and upon meeting Nia Imani, one of the offworlders, he falls in love. Their affair is complicated by Pocket Space, where eight months pass in Nia’s world, while 15 years go by in Kaeda’s. Just before one of the scheduled collections, the elderly Kaeda finds a mute, undernourished boy who isn’t of his planet. Nia agrees to transport the boy back to the authorities. Meanwhile, Fumiko Nakajima, a scientist/engineer, succeeds in designing inhabitable space stations for Earth’s residents. Fumiko is also obsessed with solving Pocket Space, and believes the key to resolving it lies within the boy Nia found. As the paths of Nia and the boy intersect with Fumiko’s, the story takes on a tone and depth that recalls an N.K. Jemison novel, with a flute playing a crucial role.
VERDICT The boy is reminiscent of Amy Bellafonte from Justin Cronin’s The Passage, yet the journey itself evokes Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One, creating crossover appeal for readers who enjoy a bit of emotional attachment with their time travel.

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