Annihilation: A Novel (The Southern Reach Trilogy)

VanderMeer, Jeff
If J.J. Abrams, Margaret Atwood, and Alan Weisman collaborated on a novel . . . it might be this awesomeArea X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.     This is the twelfth expedition.     Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.     They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.     Annihilation is the first volume in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, which will be published throughout 2014: volume two (Authority) in June, and volume three (Acceptance) in September.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2021-10-25
OK, this was hard for me.

First off, it's rare for me to give books 2 or 1 star mainly due to the fact that I am happy to not finish books I am not enjoying. So a 3 is quite low for me.

Did I enjoy this? erm, no? I think

It is well written, and it carried me along with it. Nice descriptive prose.

But I just didn't care. Not about the story (which I know was more of a setting than a story) , or the characters (again, I know) and not about any of the musings on whatever it thought it was musing about. I just kept reading things and my brain would shrug.

I like weird, don't get me wrong, the scores of bizarro fiction book I have read over the years, but there was nothing entertaining or thought provoking about this book in the slightest.


Reviewed: 2021-07-20

Weird and interesting but the sequels are not worth the effort.

Reviewed: 2021-07-05
I liked the idea of this -- and I think it really worked until the "lighthouse keeper is the thing" part. Not enough evidence or world building to back it up. But I did appreciate the characterization and how bizarre the whole thing was. In terms of the dystopian futures, it was more interesting than expected. I imagine that the movie probably builds/reshapes in an interesting way!
Reviewed: 2021-04-12

Really intetresting concept, especially for the alien.  Some frustration though with missing detail, this being the first of a trilogy.  Even so, the purpose of the mission into Area X was vague: what was the mission trying to achieve?  Why could they not bring in modern technology?  Could hypnosis really be as powerful a controlling factor for the crew as the book purports?  Aspects of the story were too vague, not just the overarching mystery of the Southern Reach organization.

Reviewed: 2021-01-19
Not powerful, nothing much of anything- What is meant tu be THE BIG THING doesn't really have any impact

Road Side Picnic is a similar idea done much, much better, done properly, and done with some literary sensitivity.
Reviewed: 2019-09-09

4.7/5 stars

“The effect of this cannot be understood without being there. The beauty of it cannot be understood, either, and when you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you. Desolation tries to colonize you.” 

The narrator, a bioligist, tell us the story of the expedition of four women to the mysterious Area X. A place where the previous expeditions had never come back or they had but in a weird way.
A horror story full of secrets, insanity, hallucinations, creepy creatures, complex personalities, and confusing parts. Obviously I ended up loving this book but I didn’t rate it 5 stars because I thought that it was too short, I wanted moooore!! I think that VanderMeer should have get more into the other characters, maybe more breathtaking parts or action scenes.
Leaving the things I didn’t like apart, I found it beautifully written and that’s weird because it’s a horror book and that is what I found surprisingly fascinating. A lot of parts take my breath away and made me want to read more,for example:

“I would tell you the names of the other three, if it mattered, but only the surveyor would last more than the next day or two.”

A lot of parts are like this and it keeps you tense (I don’t recommend to read it in the night). It gets under your skin because the point of view is very interesting and really make you feel like you are there. I love creepy novels and not really knowing what’s going on, I think that makes the book more realistic and creeps me out more. A must read if you like Sci Fi, Horror or Psychological Thriller. Can’t wait to read the whole series.
By the way the movie adaptation is coming and it doesn’t look like the book. A lot of parts are so different but I understand that the book maybe is too slow for showing it as it is visually, and I trust the beautiful mind of Alex Garland (the director), he is brilliant! Hope it will turn well!

Reviewed: 2019-01-14
reread this after seeing the movie (which I adored) and appreciate it much more. some really fantastic language, imagery, ideas in here. Going to read the next one, hoping it holds up!
Reviewed: 2017-01-29
There's so much to unpack from this novella. As someone obsessed with names, I could just talk about the implications within the novel of none of the characters having names all day. Then there are all these strange elements of Area X that VanderMeer describes beautifully, though cryptically. Very interested to see how this plays out as a trilogy. Doesn't have the traditional trilogy vibe.
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