Title: Annihilation (Southern Reach #1)
Author: Jeff Vandermeer
Publisher: FSG 2014
Rating: 4/5 stars
Reading Challenges: Fall Reading Challenge; New Author; Read Your Freebies; Seriously Series
Area 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; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third expedition 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 weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition. The 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, record all observations of their surroundings and of one anotioner, and, above all, 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.
This one was downright scary! And I have to say that it takes a lot to unnerve me while reading a book. This one did it. The summary sounded liked a fun little science fiction book to help pull me out of the reading slump. In reality, I got an intense psychological thriller and loved every page of it. The narrator is deliciously unreliable. I kept changing my mind about her: good intentions? manipulative? making it all up? I loved the first person narrative as a structure. We get to see the events through the biologist's eyes for better or worse. While the whole book was very scary and suspenseful, I almost had to put it down during the biologist's final descent into the tower. Holy crap that was scary! But also amazingly good! I ended up knocking off a star because I was left with more questions than answers by the end. I will be reading the rest of the series, but felt like we could have had a bit more reveals in the first book.
- 1. Annihilation
- 2. Authority
- 3. Acceptance