Hummingbird Salamander: A Book Review

“Hummingbird Salamander” by Jeff VanderMeer was a fast-paced thriller that kept me guessing what would happen next and who could and couldn’t be trusted. It was a thought-provoking book about what could happen if we continue to forge ahead with our desire for greater technology and creature comforts with little regard for the effects on our environment and individual freedoms.

There is impressive artwork within the book that adds to the enjoyment of “Hummingbird Salamander.”

Meet Jane

Hummingbird Salamander’s ”  main character was so different from the heroines you typically read about in books. She is a large woman—a former wrestler. She is flawed. Suspicious of everyone and everything, even the reader, she doesn’t give us her real name. Is it Jane? Is it Jill?

Meet the Ecoterrorist She is Chasing

We learn more about the woman whose ghost she is chasing, Silvina, the daughter of an Argentine industrialist who is a radicalized activist. Many consider her an ecoterrorist. Silvina leaves “Jane,” a taxidermized hummingbird and a cryptic message in a storage locker.

Soon, Jane is prepared to abandon everything—her job, home, husband, daughter, everything she thought she knew and believed, in search of the truth.

Hummingbird Salamander can be Tough to Follow

Written in the first-person point-of-view, “Hummingbird Salamander” often feels like a tour through someone’s brain. The author captures the manic thoughts of a woman on the run exceptionally well. Unfortunately, this can make it difficult to follow at times. We meet many characters described in multiple ways, often with more than one name to start, as Jane decides how to keep their identities secret from anyone who might find her account.

The plot is complex and well crafted, yet at times, challenging to follow. Early on, I wanted more convincing as to why Jane would so easily give up everything searching for the truth. By the end, it all made sense. I loved the ending. This is one of those books that really pays off in the end.

It has an Environmental Message

I am sure it could feel preachy regarding the environment and what we are doing to it. But I knew that was part of the premise going into the book and agree with the author’s stance, so it didn’t bother me, but I could see how it could be over the top for many readers.

Do I recommend this book? Yes! UNLESS you don’t like complex plots and don’t believe in climate change. Then, it probably isn’t for you. If it sounds like your cup of tea, you can buy the new release now!

I give “Hummingbird Salamander” 4 stars!

Thank you to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux, for providing a complimentary copy of “Hummingbird Salamander” in exchange for an honest review.

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

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About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, speaker, and widowed mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients, and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, despite their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog about living with cancer at Facing Cancer with Grace.

1 thought on “Hummingbird Salamander: A Book Review”

  1. I don’t like books that I have a hard time following, but I do like seemingly weird story choices that pay off in the end. Sounds like an interesting book.

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