Title: Annihilation (Southern Reach #1)
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
No. of pages: E-book; 200
Genre: Science Fiction, Fiction, Horror, Fantasy, Mystery
Publisher: FSG Originals (MacMillan)
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Date Read: July 5, 2018
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; 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. (Goodreads)
One of the main reasons why I picked up this book, other than the fact it’s been on my to-be-read list for a while, was due to the movie that released late 2017/early 2018. The movie looked enjoyable but I wanted to compare it to the movie. Now that I’ve read it, I feel like from what I’ve heard from friends, I’ll be able to enjoy it more.
This book was really for me to nail down. I liked it, but there was something about it that keeps nagging at me. It was detailed, complex, clear, and confusing. It had a mysterious air about it like you were following along in some science fiction thriller mystery. The world itself, since it’s always changing within the border of Area X, leaves an air of unfinishedness. This book unnerved me because I couldn’t pin it down. And I can’t quite put it into words.
I did like the fact that it was a narration. The book follows the written journey of the biologist of the twelfth expedition behind the border and into Area X. As part of the “mission,” all members were required to keep a journal/record of their perspective of what they’ve seen within the foreign landscape. It wasn’t until maybe ninety pages in or so that I picked up on the fact that we were reading a journal. It helped a bit with understanding the perspective, but not much else.
VanderMeer created such a complex landscape with not much understanding to base it. There were so many things that I wish I had more information. So many things I wish had been resolved. There’s an air of unfinishedness about it, but it also kept reeling me in because I thought that maybe things would become clearer as I read.
Ultimately, it says that I gave this a 4-star rating, but in reality, I rounded up as 3.5 is what I’m currently stuck on. This book left much to be desired. If given the chance, I’ll probably pick up the next book and quite possibly finish the series in the hopes that something more will take hold.