Annihilation: A Novel (Southern Reach Trilogy)

Jeff VanderMeer
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.


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.
Reviewed: 2017-01-14

Annihilation blew my mind. I'm still not sure I've fully wrapped my head around the thing, and I certainly could not do it justice in a review. I need the next two books.

Reviewed: 2016-10-31
The thing that hooked me about ANNIHILATION, the first gripping read in the Southern Reach Trilogy, was the undeniable mystery surrounding the seemingly doomed and off-centre expedition into the little known Area X.

The omnipresent sense of dread is compounded by the strange behaviour and lack of detail attributed to past expeditions - notably the most recent where the members returned only to all die of cancer shortly thereafter.

For our narrator and biologist, her journey into Area X is a personal one. Her husband was one of those who returned from the previous expedition - though, 'returned' may be a little misleading. She's looking for closure while also feeding her lifelong dream by undertaking the expedition.

For the remaining members of the all female team; a psychologist, anthropologist, and a surveyor this journey into the unknown not only brings them face to face with unique flora and fauna but also something that may be a deadly mix of both.

ANNIHILATION is a psychological sci-fi thriller that is gripping from the first page all the way through to the last. I especially enjoyed the way the book ended, closing the chapter on the first instalment while reading readers for the second.

Review first appeared on my blog:
Reviewed: 2016-06-02
My actual review is on the Kindle edition:
Reviewed: 2015-11-28

Looking for something strange to read? Something not a little puzzling? Look no further than the Southern Reach Trilogy. Jeff Vandermeer's words read as if horror novelist H.P. Lovecraft and film director Andrei Tarkovsky wrote a script together. Annihilation follows Expedition 12 as they explore the mysterious Area X and its improbable happenings. -Alex

Reviewed: 2015-07-09
This book is cool as shit. The overriding sensation that I have, after finishing it and now writing about it, is that it is just going to be (if there's any justice in the world) the trilogy to talk about next year. Sure, there are people who may find it way too out there and way too strange. Those people also probably would not laugh at this video here (SQUIDPUNK!). But no one else is writing like Jeff these days. There are people who are writing equally as crazy stuff, like China Miéville, but they're all doing it in their own ways. If there's any justice in the world, before Area X expands to change us all, this'll be the trilogy that launches Jeff into the recognition he deserves. Within the first few pages of this book, you'll feel it - a brightness inside you, something changing. Embrace it - I promise you won't be disappointed in the end.

More (without any spoilers, or at least I hope so) at RB:
The rest of the trilogy could turn this into 5 stars depending on what vagueries are resolved. It's original and absorbing but my suspension of disbelief was strained. Also, the adjective 'brackish' stands out; should be allowed one use per volume.
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