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Southern Reach #1


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Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world 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 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 another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—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.

195 pages, Paperback

First published February 4, 2014

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About the author

NYT bestselling writer Jeff VanderMeer has been called “the weird Thoreau” by the New Yorker for his engagement with ecological issues. His most recent novel, the national bestseller Borne, received wide-spread critical acclaim and his prior novels include the Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance). Annihilation won the Nebula and Shirley Jackson Awards, has been translated into 35 languages, and was made into a film from Paramount Pictures directed by Alex Garland. His nonfiction has appeared in New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic, Slate, Salon, and the Washington Post. He has coedited several iconic anthologies with his wife, the Hugo Award winning editor. Other titles include Wonderbook, the world’s first fully illustrated creative writing guide. VanderMeer served as the 2016-2017 Trias Writer in Residence at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He has spoken at the Guggenheim, the Library of Congress, and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for the Human Imagination.

VanderMeer was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, but spent much of his childhood in the Fiji Islands, where his parents worked for the Peace Corps. This experience, and the resulting trip back to the United States through Asia, Africa, and Europe, deeply influenced him.

Jeff is married to Ann VanderMeer, who is currently an acquiring editor at Tor.com and has won the Hugo Award and World Fantasy Award for her editing of magazines and anthologies. They live in Tallahassee, Florida, with two cats and thousands of books.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 23,825 reviews
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,142 reviews3,566 followers
May 14, 2014
I am sure that it will shock to many readers my low rating of this popular novel, but sadly I think that it's the best way to express my own personal reading experience with the book. And I prefer to be honest than just giving a high rating if I don't believe on it.

First of all, I don't hate the author and I am not looking for affecting the average rating of this novel.

Basically, I had to balance the meaning of each rating here on Goodreads against what I thought about my reading experience with the novel, and I realized that I wasn't confortable even thinking on the book that "I like it" which it would imply a 3-stars rating, so at the end, I opted to give it a 2-star rating, but I don't enjoy to do it.

Maybe I am not the ideal reader for this kind of stories. Maybe, while I am huge fan of science fiction, I am not ready to read "weird fiction" that it's the closest way to genre the novel. It wasn't the surreal elements since I am used to read and watch surreal material like Alan Moore's comic books or Luis Buñuel's films.

I think that my frustration with this particular novel was the inconclusive ending along with the knowledge that maybe some of the information on the story can be false and most of all, the lack of any single explanation of what the heck is going on.

I understand that it's a trilogy, I get that it's a mystery, so the author can't explain all on the very first book, but I think that any novel has to bring some kind of closure on itself. Also, some explanations could be appreaciated. You don't have to explain everything but at least something.

...when you see beauty in desolation, it changes something in you.

That's a quote from the book, and analyzing my general impression of the book, sadly I think that the novel was like a "desolation" to me. No explanations, unreliable facts and an abrupt ending. So, I suppose that I am still the same, since I didn't change and I still don't find "beauty" on "desolation".

What I can appraise is the great writing style along with the smart and mature tone of the story.

Please, if you are curious about the novel, read it, just like I did it. I really do hope that you can enjoy to the fullest this novel. No two people read the same book. So, while I couldn't find it as a possitive reading experience, maybe for you will be different and that it can be just awesome.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
March 2, 2019
”...but whether it decays under the earth or above on green fields, or out to sea or in the very air, all shall come to revelation, and to revel, in the knowledge of the strangling fruit and the hand of the sinner shall rejoice, for there is no sin in shadow or in light that the seeds of the dead cannot forgive…”

 photo AreaX_zps0d11e624.jpg

An Anthropologist, a Surveyor, a Psychologist, and a Biologist, all female, make up the 12th expedition to AREA X. The expeditions that have come to this region before have not fared well. They have disappeared. They have come home mere shells of themselves and died of cancer. They have turned on one another and killed each other. There is a reason why the expedition members are only known by their field of expertise.

”I had not seen a name or heard a name spoken aloud for months, and seeing one now bothered me deeply. It seemed wrong, as if it did not belong to AREA X. A name was a dangerous luxury here. Sacrifice didn’t need names. People who served a function didn’t need to be named. In all ways, the name was a further an unwanted confusion to me, a dark space that kept growing and growing in my mind.”

It does make you wonder why someone would volunteer knowing the outcomes of the previous missions. The problem is AREA X keeps expanding and there is a growing concern that it will continue to encroach on the rest of the world. The expeditions, though unsuccessful, must be achieving something.

Our narrator is the Biologist. We find out as the story continues that her husband had volunteered to go on the previous expedition. He had returned like the others with something essential missing inside. A part of her believes, as crazy as it seems, that the segment of him that is missing is still in AREA X somewhere. The area is also filled with unlikely plants, insects, and as it turns out one species that doesn’t belong anywhere.

 photo AreaXfauna_zps57b75c95.jpg

”As I adjusted to the light, the Crawler kept changing at a lightning pace, as if to mock my ability to comprehend it. It was a figure within a series of refracted panes of glass. It was a series of layers in the shape of an archway. It was a great sluglike monster ringed by satellites of even odder creatures. It was a glistening star. My eyes kept glancing off of it as if an optic nerve was not enough.”

What do you do when nothing makes sense? What do you do when the most basic sensory parts of yourself are not functioning properly? You process information and more gaps come up than explanations of something you desperately need to understand.

”What can you do when your five senses are not enough? Because I still couldn’t truly see it here, any more than I had seen it under the microscope, and that’s what scared me the most. Why couldn’t I see it?”

She can feel the area changing her. She calls it “the brightness”. She isn’t sure what it is doing to her. She just knows she feels different.

”There shall be a fire that knows your name, and in the presence of the strangling fruit, its dark flame shall acquire every part of you.”

 photo SouthernReach_zpscda55179.jpg

There is a tower or is there a tunnel? The expedition members disagree about what to call it. A bit of a mind bend because one is decidedly different than the other. There is a lighthouse and signs of the previous expeditions are etched in the red splatter on the walls and the bullet holes in barricades. The Biologist finds evidence that the information they had been told was not just lies, but epic untruths.

As the expedition gets smaller she becomes more and more desperate to understand why AREA X exists.

”We all live in a kind of continuous dream, “ I told him (her husband). “When we wake, it is because something, some event, some pinprick even, disturbs the edges of what we’ve taken as reality.”

She needs a pinprick, a slice of reality, a garden variety truth that will realign her thoughts and allow her to understand something, anything.

 photo JeffVandermeer_zps3a3afe77.jpg

I’ve read several Jeff Vandermeer books and been blown away each and every time. His vision is so unique; and his ability, as he does in this book, to have me holding my breath with each new revelation is startlingly, unnervingly, brilliant. He conceives the inconceivable and totally convinces you that it... can... exist. You shudder and shake for a few days and then after a few interesting nightmares you start to recover your equilibrium.

Your mind has been permanently altered.

You might feel a “brightness”.

You might start a journal, logging all these unusual thoughts that keep buzzing around in your head....like spores sliding down the slopes of your brain.

You might even decide you need to volunteer for Expedition 13 as... The Reader.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 65 books233k followers
December 30, 2015
Really good books. Very different. Very atmospheric and different than anything else I've ever read.

I read part of this trilogy off the page and listened to some of it on audiobook. And looking back, I wish I'd read the entire thing off the page. I think it would have been a better overall experience that way.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for B Schrodinger.
305 reviews673 followers
September 13, 2014
Well it seems like Annihilation has divided the SF community into two, lovers and 'meh'ers. I'm pretty sure I'm one of the latter. I have been trying to think why a novel with a blurb that instantly sparked my curiousity was just so bleh. There are parts here that I love. I think the whole novel was under a cloud of boring, grey fungus spores.

While you have this wonderful premise of an expedition to a remote 'Area X' where the world is not quite right after some mysterious intervention from outside, you also have this mystery clouded over by characters that are puppets, have no personality, are deliberately obfuscate and are entirely unreliable. What you end up with is what I liken to a biologist having a particularly vivid dream. And that is possibly one explanation for the story, but dreams are dreams and stories are better than dreams for a reason.

This book is adorned in dream-like logic, with little attempt to try and convince the reader of any sense of a reality. You cannot anchor yourself to the situation or the characters. All are as frustratingly grey as each other.

I think a great analogy of this reading experience is to compare it to the TV series "Lost". In a way on the surface they both share some similarities in their premises. But I'd say for those who do know the series is that this novel is awfully like the last season of Lost. Too much namby-pamby, no explanation weirdness that does not lead anywhere and is frustratingly obscure for what seems like the hell of it.

OK I did find some redeeming features in here and I did find some parts great ( I did give it two stars because of this). There is some great imagination here. There is some wonderful imagery here. I just wish it was more connected and there was even one little ounce of effort to try and make it make sense.

I have the second volume from the library also. I don't know if I'll carry on.
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,195 followers
March 16, 2020
I am not sure how I feel about this.

It was good but not really.
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.7k followers
April 6, 2021
“Silence creates its own violence.”

My initial reaction: BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN

And I'm still sitting here, wondering and pondering.
This novel was spectacular in every aspect. The best books are those that keep their secrets to themselves. Those, that don't tell you everything, that make you desperate for information that you will not receive. It's the mystery that keeps one interested, the depths that you want to explore. They make your fingers tremble because you want to touch everything, know the answer to every question. You want the silver platter, a glass filled with red wine and a bowl with all the unaswered riddles. But the author would rather let you die of thirst than serve them to you.

That's what I live for. Stories that leave me breathless. There are fantastic books out there. But those that tell me all their secrets will fade from memory. Now that I know, how else will you keep me interested?

Find more of my books on Instagram
Profile Image for Eve.
345 reviews29 followers
March 18, 2018
Really a waste of time. The book seems to be going for the eerie "each man is every man" type of feeling that you got from Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," in which none of the characters have names. Here we have a small group of women, among them "the psychologist," "the surveyor," and "the biolgist" (our narrator) exploring Area X, a supernatural-type district that borders our own mundane world. I found myself completely uninvolved and not at all scared or disturbed by the team's discoveries. It was far too cryptic. While less is often more (Michael Chabon - are you listening?), less is also often less. And so it is here. I was hoping for something gripping that would draw me into this mystery, but none of the hooks worked. While our protagonist does learn something about herself in the course of the (thankfully short) novel, her realizations leave no emotional impact. I will not be reading the sequels even tho they are being released by the publisher on an accelerated schedule. (NYT recently reported on this new publishing phenomenon of quick releasing of series. And this series is being published by FSG, usually known for quality books. Don't get it!).
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book936 followers
March 28, 2021
A swimming pool. A rocky bay. An empty lot. A tower. A lighthouse. These things are real and not real. They exist and they do not exist.

Annihilation is one weird piece of literature. This short novel is redolent of the strange fascination one might feel when gazing at a heavy, sleepy pool of water, where fish and tadpoles swarm and waggle among dead weeds; more massive creatures seem to be lurking in the dark, unfathomable depths underneath.

Area X is a fascinating place: an abandoned, nondescript no-man’s-land. We don’t know where it is nor how it came to be. We only know about the twelfth expedition, a group of four unnamed women who cross a border into this land. It’s also unclear what they are supposed to be doing there. Each of these women has an agenda. The only thing that seems obvious enough is that they are exploring a very bizarre piece of landscape.

The story is narrated by one of the crew, the biologist, in what sounds like a diary, addressed to an indefinite “you” — would that be the reader? If so, would we be part of the story in some way? The biologist recounts her hike through Area X and a series of memories about her husband, who was part of the previous expedition. This journal is one of a collection of many more journals. Some parts of Area X are, in fact, like the journal, like the novel we’re reading, pieces of text written in living and growing brain-like script down the staircase of a tunnel which is at the same time a Tower. But we never know if the protagonist is experiencing reality or a nightmare or hallucinations induced by drugs or hypnosis. The harrowing episode of the Crawler, a final Lovecraftian revelation at this point of the narrative, is an astonishing description of an unearthly encounter.

VanderMeer is a superb stylist, but his style is often distracting, and his book is both engrossing and frustrating since it leaves us guessing at every turn. In some way, it strongly reminded me of Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic, especially Stalker, Tarkovsky’s film adaptation — Tarkovsky is probably the one filmmaker who has the most potent fascination for stagnant waters and dancing reeds. It also made me think of Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island and Scorsese’s adaptation of that book, with the lighthouse and the constant suspicion about the narrator’s sanity. On a side note, Annihilation shares similar themes with Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and with Alain Damasio’s La Horde du Contrevent. Not to mention J. J. Abram's Lost.

Edit: In Ex Machina, Alex Garland examined the consequences of a machine’s ability to imitate human feelings (a re-read of Frankenstein). Three years later, Netflix released Garland’s adaptation of Annihilation, which is in line with movies such as Alien and Apocalypse Now. Garland’s concerns remain the same: the counterfeit of human form and behaviour and a fascination for whatever is creeping under the skin. Only this time, machines are replaced by a blooming patch of nature, with strange vines, eels, alligators, and bears. In the process, the film takes many liberties with the novel. It is nonetheless visually stunning, and Natalie Portman is, as always, impressive. One thing that remains faithful to the book is its disturbing weirdness.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
783 reviews12.5k followers
March 27, 2021
“That’s how the madness of the world tries to colonize you: from the outside in, forcing you to live in its reality.”
It’s one of those strange books that I enjoyed and yet found strangely off-putting and uncomfortable, like one of those disturbing early morning dreams just before waking where everything is a bit distorted and all you remember in the morning is that fuzzy unsettled residue of it that lurks in the back recesses of your brain for days after.
“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.”

From the beginning, it reminded me quite strongly of Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, one of my most memorable SF reads of the past decade — to the point where I was wondering if VanderMeer was inspired by it, even if unconsciously. A demarcated area of strange, unexplainable, likely alien activity that transforms the environment itself and those who dare to venture deep into it, with happenings there bordering on surrealistic creepiness. And yet, despite the similarities, this one has a very different feel to it, more uncomfortable and unpleasant — on purpose.

“I am convinced now that I and the rest of the expedition were given access to these records for the simple reason that, for certain kinds of classified information, it did not matter what we knew or didn’t know. There was only one logical conclusion: Experience told our superiors that few if any of us would be coming back.”

Area X is an area of strange happenings, separated from our usual world by some sort of a barrier, and expeditions periodically venture into it - after undergoing serious psychological conditioning that includes inordinate amounts of hypnosis - and either perish, or return back a bit incomplete, and the whole warped place is presented to us through the eyes of our narrator, a biologist, as a transitional ecology — and the question remains: transitional to what exactly?
“The tower, which was not supposed to be there, plunges into the earth in a place just before the black pine forest begins to give way to swamp and then the reeds and wind-gnarled trees of the marsh flats. Beyond the marsh flats and the natural canals lies the ocean and, a little farther down the coast, a derelict lighthouse. All of this part of the country had been abandoned for decades, for reasons that are not easy to relate.”

Our narrator is identified only by her expedition role - she is a biologist. As a matter of fact, all expedition members are only identified by their roles - biologist, psychologist, anthropologist, surveyor, as “Sacrifices didn’t need names” - echoing Stanisław Lem’s Eden and creating an intentional pervasive sense of detachment that remains throughout the narrative, reinforced by incredibly detached and distant narration (especially for the first person narration!) that reinforces the nameless narrator’s very clinical and reserved personality that keeps everyone, even those closest to her, at an arm’s length.
“My sole gift or talent, I believe now, was that places could impress themselves upon me, and I could become a part of them with ease.”

And once in Area X, having joined the expedition out of reasons that exceed simple curiosity, our biologist quickly realizes that the area contaminated her and that she is undergoing her own transformation into someone or something else, while we slowly learn a bit more about her, getting to peek a bit under some of her always raised guard.
“I had gotten sidetracked, like I always did, because I melted into my surroundings, could not remain separate from, apart from, objectivity a foreign land to me.”

The unpleasant, viscous with vaguely nightmarish hypnotic atmosphere experienced through a detached distant lens of the biologist’s cold yet observant narration and perception is indeed memorable, and I still feel a bit unsettled by it. It was both clever and disturbing and frustrating as hell - and unpleasantly atmospheric on every single page. It’s like I know Area X almost by feel, and I’m creeped out by that very thought. And I appreciate it without actually liking it that much. It takes an effort to enjoy it, but to me it felt overall worth it.

And the language — it deserves a special mention as the book was very well-written. VanderMeer has style. It’s crisply poetic, and my brain shorts out trying to think of a better descriptor. I blame Area X.
“We all live in a kind of continuous dream,” I told him. “When we wake, it is because something, some event, some pinprick even, disturbs the edges of what we’ve taken as reality.”

Was it perfect? No — because quite a bit of buildup did not pay off enough. What ended up a bit underwhelming for me was the ultimate reveal of what was in the Tower that wasn’t a tunnel after all. I expected more payoff from the whole “tower, not tunnel” that the narrator insisted upon, and more of the revelation of what/who was writing creepy endless surreal sentence in living organisms. And when we got to the Crawler — well, it’s the case where the descriptors did not have the intended effect on me, leaving me with the vague sense of dissatisfaction.
That finding at the bottom of the Tower and the Crawler itself, I hope, are addressed more in the sequels. Otherwise there will be one very unhappy Nataliya in the world.

And yet, and yet — I still keep thinking about the strange oppressive allure of Area X days after finishing it. So I guess it succeeded in captivating my imagination despite all that supposed detachment and unlikable narrator.

3.5 stars, rounding to 4.

Buddy read with Dylan.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews927 followers
October 6, 2022
“At the time, I was seeking oblivion, and I sought in those blank, anonymous faces, even the most painfully familiar, a kind of benign escape. A death that would not mean being dead.”

You'll Get Lost In The Haunted World Of 'Annihilation' : NPR

Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) is a fantastic read! An expedition made up of four women known only by their profession: anthropologist, surveyor, psychologist and our narrator, the biologist, investigates a mysterious netherworld which has been cut off from their continent (Area X). This is the twelfth such expedition. All previous expeditions have ended in failure and death.

This story is somewhat creepy and very mysterious. We have scant clues to figure out what happened on previous missions and why the current mission isn’t going so well either. On top of that our biologist is an unreliable narrator. We know she is changing, but how? Is she simply losing her mind or is there more going on than can be rationally explained? The idea of crossing boundaries is huge in this story so much so that the psychologist must hypnotize other team members so they can safely cross the border into Area X. This made me think of Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter where a drug is used to allow our mind to drop the barriers and see the dimensions that are all around us. Is something like that going on here? I don’t know, but it was an interesting touch.

The last section was a bit too reflective, but otherwise this worked for me. Before Annihilation, the only other work by VanderMeer I’d read was Borne. I liked Borne, but I didn’t think it lived up to its potential. For me, Annihilation delivers!
4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,988 followers
October 8, 2017
I was expecting more from this book. I will read the next one at some point, mainly because I know there is a next book. If I didn't know there was one, I don't think I would have been left expecting more. The book did not really draw me in and I found it to be somewhat repetitious. All this was disappointing considering the hype I have heard about it.

But, since there are two others in the series, and the series as a whole is critically acclaimed - perhaps I will find something more as the story continues.

After rethinking I changed this from 3 to 2 stars on 3/4/2016 and I will probably not be reading any more of the series.

Update 10/7/2017 - I see this is coming out as a movie. Usually when movies come out for books I didn't like, I can at least say "It's not for me, but I am sure it is a movie others will love." With Annihilation, I cannot picture this as a movie of any interest at all. They must end up changing it a lot - and that would be a good thing in this case.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
February 22, 2019
Back in the 90s and early 2000s video and computer game fans were all the rave for a game called Myst. You logged in and were quietly transported to a seemingly deserted island. The POV would move around and you could find clues and then wander around some more. The artwork was impressive and slowly, tediously learning the backstory was the real fun.

I remember sitting down in front of the screen and thinking … “Ok, now what? What’s going on? What are we doing? What’s the purpose? Am I supposed to fight something or is there treasure to find or monsters to avoid? … Can I fight something? … Is my game messed up?” Quizzically looking for instructions and turning it off and on again. “What the hell? … Hello?”

And yet, in it’s weird and original way, it was gently mesmerizing.

So we come to Jeff VanderMeer’s 2014 Nebula Award winner. SF fans must be accustomed to a certain “what the hell is going on?” curiosity in the first few pages and sometimes we can be prepared for this obdurate insensibility to continue for a while. We’re speculative fiction fans, it’s in our DNA, we are looking for the Winona Ryder strange and unusual and we’re willing to say Beetlejuice three times and click our ruby slippers and shamble along the uninhabited shores of Myst for hours on end. At least for a while and then we either DNF and go find some Orcs to slay or trudge on to the end, all the while hoping for some clarity, even to the last pages.

I can see why some folks returned Myst and wanted their money back and I can appreciate much of the criticism I have seen for this work. It does not follow established paths for storylines. The writer asks a lot from his readers.

Four women from what seems to be an alternate history or near future mysterious and unexplained dystopian world go on an expedition into Area X. I’m fairly certain that Speed Racer’s brother Racer X does NOT come from this place, but that’s one of the few things of which I am certain.

There are hints that the strangely biohazard swamp was some kind of alien visitation and that made me think of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s 1972 novel Roadside Picnic where people entered the radioactive zones on clandestine missions to find alien treasure. Why is the group sent on this mission? And this is the twelfth such operation and there are oblique and disturbing references to the failed past trips into the jungle / swamp / pristine ecological system that does not play well with others.

I must say that I did very much enjoy VanderMeer’s writing and for his artfully biological prose. There seemed to be some earthy or wild description on every page, like a green tint glowing from the book. But this was not biopunk; the language is more dreamy and introspective, almost Bradburyesque in it’s style and craft.

Told from the perspective of The Biologist ( we never know the individuals' names – there is also a Surveyor, a Psychologist and an Anthropologist), which furthers the mystery of the dystopian society from which they come and heightens the otherworldliness of VanderMeer’s already strange narrative. Parts Lovecraft and parts Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, parts Philip K. Dick’s Piper in the Woods: A Short Science Fiction Novel, this is more than a journey into Swamp Thing’s lair, this is a spiritual quest from which the Biologist may not return, at least not the same as how she crossed the border.

Captivating, thought provoking, and damned if I am not reaching for the next in the series.

Profile Image for Sofia.
231 reviews6,967 followers
August 17, 2021
This book feels like a long dream. A dream that unsettles me, as if it could at any moment turn into a nightmare. There is beauty in the dread, a snapshot of a feeling between fear and unrest. It's like a dream where I wake up several times in the middle, clutch the blankets to myself, and fall back asleep, only to be transported to the same alternate world. A world that feels vivid and real and yet so separated from the rest of the planet. When I finished this book, I wasn't sure if I had actually read it. Was Annihilation just some strange dream I had years ago that came back to haunt me? It felt familiar in a disturbing way, like a repressed memory.

When I try to explain this book, it sounds confusing. Like a feverish, hypnotic tale spun by a half-mad person. But while I was reading, it made sense. Not in a logical way. But when the details started to come together, I understood. I finished Annihilation an hour ago and now it doesn't make sense anymore, like explaining your dream to someone over breakfast and realizing nothing connects. It's very open-ended. None of my questions were answered. None. I have theories, but most of them are strongly influenced by the movie.

The movie is totally different from the book. They almost feel like unrelated stories. In the film, things develop more quickly, more happens, and it all makes sense. Most of the book's plot isn't even in the movie. The book follows dream logic, where strange things happen without meaning and organisms are creepily anthropomorphic. None of the characters have names. They are defined by their roles related to Area X, a region blocked off by the government where mysterious things are happening. People who enter Area X never return the same. They are shells. Groups have committed mass suicide. They have gone crazy and killed each other. The biologist, the main character, is part of a new mission to Area X.

She follows a tunnel, a Tower, with writing on the walls. A never-ending sentence, ominous and strange, created by tiny organisms. Are they controlled by something greater than themselves? She and everyone else in their group feel drawn to the Tower and its seemingly endless levels. A brightness creeps in. Something moans in the night. In the lighthouse, blood stains the walls. What is the key to the secrets of Area X?

Annihilation isn't for everyone, but I really enjoyed it. I was never bored. This book was like the Crawler it focused mainly on. It drew me in and captivated me, always changing and doing unexpected things. I actually liked the movie better, though. I prefer to have an explanation at the end of a book, and Annihilation gave me nothing. I hope it's resolved in the sequels.

In conclusion:

16 Memes That Might Make You Laugh If You Live With Existential Dread

4.5 stars


I just watched the movie, and I am three things.
1. Traumatized 🤪
2. Confused 🤡
3. Morbidly curious 😃

So I guess it's time to read the book.
Profile Image for Philip.
513 reviews684 followers
June 19, 2018
2.5ish stars.

I wanted to like this, and I think I probably did - I convinced myself I did - until I realized that maybe I didn't. I finished and had to have an internal conversation with myself (much like the biologist in 90% of the book) to identify that, beneath the eerie, suspenseful surface, the feeling I was left with was, well, a vacancy of feeling. I'm down with New Weird (VanderMeer's Borne is one of my recent favorites), and I can burn with the slowest of burns, but for whatever reason this just isn't the book for me.

I admire the craft here; VanderMeer's writing is pretty, strange (and pretty strange ha ha), and atmospheric. I found myself profoundly unsettled, in a good way. Alas, I find that I often use the descriptor "atmospheric" synonymously with "boring." For me, it ended up being a case of style over substance. It may be because the biologist (or is she really a philosopher-poet?), lost in reflection, is completely detached from the narrative, in turn causing me to become detached from the narrative.

I guess it's like the TV show Lost in that a group of people mysteriously get stuck in a strange wilderness with things maybe trying to kill them or something and it doesn't really make sense and then people die insert five seasons of random detours and wait maybe this is all just a dream or a metaphorical commentary on the relationship between humankind and nature or whatever and none of this is actually happening then it's over and... wait, that was it? Except that lots of stuff happens (at least on screen) in Lost and nothing really happens in this book.

Be that as it may, I will most likely see the movie because the trailer looks super cool and exciting and absolutely nothing like the book.

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
March 5, 2015
Four women, the twelfth such expedition, enter the mysterious Area X to observe and collect samples. Will the calamities that have befallen previous expeditions befall them as well?

I'd read four Jeff VanderMeer books prior to this one and they were all unsettling in one way or another. This one was par from the course.

Annihilation is a horror tale about secrecy, the unknown, and insanity. The biologist is the narrator and an unreliable one at that. The other characters are known only by their job function as well, giving the book a depersonalized feel. The story is more about mood and the character of the biologist than it is about exploration.

This is one of those books that I have a hard time quantifying my feelings about. It was really strange and I was captivated by it but I'm not precisely sure I'd say I liked it. There were more than enough unanswered questions to make me want to read the next book in the series, however.

With Annihilation, VanderMeer has crafted a creepy ass tale that would make H.P. Lovecraft shiver. Four out of five stars.
Profile Image for Carmen.
2,065 reviews1,905 followers
March 29, 2016
I am convinced now that I and the rest of the expedition were given access to these records for the simple reason that, for certain kinds of classified information, it did not matter what we knew or didn't know. There was only one logical conclusion: Experience told our superiors that few if any of us would be coming back.

Area X is thought to be a myth. A conspiracy theory. Something whispered about in environmental circles.

But it's real. Appearing 30 years ago and baffling everyone with its existence. The government has sent people - trained people, skilled people - to explore Area X and try to come up with some explanation for it. Those people have disappeared. Or died. Or killed themselves. Or murdered each other. Occasionally, they actually return from Area X, as pale pathetic shells of the people they once were, their personalities seemingly extracted by the unknown force which has claimed that part of the country and seems to be slowly advancing and widening.

The main character is a biologist. She is part of Expedition 12, the government's 12th mission to Area X in a desperate attempt to find answers. She has no name - it was stripped from her in training. She and her three companions only call each other by their occupational titles: the biologist, the anthropologist, the surveyor, and the psychologist. All are women.

Trained for months in a secret government facility (a sector known as The Southern Reach) in weapons, science, survival skills, and combat training, the four scientists really have no idea what lies in wait for them on the other side of the border. Nothing could prepare them for what happens next.

This book is an intense mind-fuck full of slow, sweet build-up, and almost palpable tension which ends in an explosive and thoroughly satisfying climax. VanderMeer is a master at giving you small hints and victories as you piece together what is going on as each member of the team slowly succumbs to the horrors of whatever is causing the illness, insanity, and transformation that is spilling out of Area X's every living cell, from the bark of the trees to the gigantic unseen animals that you can hear moaning in the reeds but never actually get a good look at until they are hurtling toward you at full speed, jaws open.

He is amazing at small touches that at first sound almost innocuous but in the end leave you reeling from their impact and hidden implications.

This book is creepy and horrifying. So I'd classify it as a horror. It also is a strong science-fiction entry.

Another thing that is wonderful and amazing about this book is that it really only deals with women. Women are the good guys, the bad guys, the smart ones, the stupid ones, the brave ones, the scared ones. Men definitely exist and are spoken of in the novel, but since the entire mission is composed of females, females serve every character function in this book. It's mindblowing and I really loved it. (I wish that this kind of story could exist when men are ALSO in the picture, but it seems that as soon as a man enters a book, all of women's responses, attitudes, dialogue, and thoughts are affected in some way as a result. Usually not for the better.)

Two really kick-ass characters exist in the biologist (our main character) and the surveyor, who has a strong military background. Even though they are both kickass, they are kickass in very different ways, and it was fascinating to see how that played out. The villain of the piece (I won't tell you who) is also, of course, female - devious, manipulative, and sinister. There's a more cowed, peace-loving character as well, who plays the 'weak' role and is always trying to please others and help them. The book is a interesting collection of character studies that was always blowing my mind with new revelations.

I really felt an affinity for the biologist. I could relate to her character. She's certainly complex and unlikable in a lot of ways. We are inside her head (this book is in first-person) and it is a delight to see such a strong, capable, cold-blooded woman take on this challenge, use her scientific brain to figure stuff out, and do whatever she has to do to survive. She was spectacular, I was on the edge of my seat rooting for her and cheering her intelligent, sometimes brutal decisions.

I have read this book twice in one day. I couldn't put it down and I also felt like I should read it a second time in order to really absorb VanderMeer's beautiful writing and also his complex and mind-blowing concepts.

If you enjoy books or are a person who likes to read, I highly recommend this excellent book to you. I hope the next two books in the trilogy (Authority and Acceptance) are as good. Even if I had to take this book by itself, though, it would still be a 5-star read and a stand-alone novel in its own right.

P.S. It is fair to note that the paperback U.S.A. edition of this is absolutely gorgeous. A work of art. Not only is the cover beautiful, but the back side of the cover and the back side of the back cover are detailed with an intricate, green, beautiful drawing of a marshy swampland filled with dragonflies, flowers, herons, bullfrogs, and ibis. If you do not skip immediately to the first chapter, there is a rather large detailed drawing of a boar on the title page. It's gorgeous and I want to own it. It's really, really rare that I buy a book published in English, so... the fact that I feel a deep and urgent NEED to see this on my shelf is really saying something.
Profile Image for Fabian.
957 reviews1,623 followers
July 28, 2020
Dr. Moreau + Sphere + Hunger Games + Lord of the Flies + the first half of the MaddAddam trilogy = this bizarre intro into the "Southern Reach" trilogy. There may even be some groovy transcendentalist Thoreau thrown somewhere in there! The platform here is potent enough a dose to ensure the future reading of the next novels.

Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,977 reviews1,987 followers
November 20, 2018
Rating: 4* of five

***MOVIE REVIEW*** Watch Darren of Flick Connection's guide to how to watch the film. It's a lot better than the carping literalists would have you believe. Please! PLEASE! Watch the film and let the experience beguile and ensorcel you. Watch it twice. Immerse yourself and let it become a bit of your brain.

***MOVIE UPDATE: The Alex Garland adaptation will hit theaters on 23 February 2018. Garland's 2014 debut was Ex Machina, for which he got an Academy award nomination...let's hope this means good things.***

The Publisher Says: 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.

My Review: Winner of the 2015 Nebula Award for science fiction novels and the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award for horror novels, this novel earns accolade after award heaped on top of praise for a good reason: It is eerie, atmospheric setting plus glimpsed monsters plus the recrudescence of the inner evil in all humans. And it's very well written.

We're well into this short book before something truly scary happens; before that, it was all spooky suggestions. The first truly scary thing ...an intense impact!

One thing I must note about Mr. Vandermeer's work is that he seems inordinately interested in fungi and molds. **shudder** The shroom-o-phobic members of the audience are warned. Everyone else, I recommend the book with mild reservations, but only mild ones, about the SF-resistant ladies. I myownself would say try 50pp, for what that's worth.
Profile Image for Ɗẳɳ  2.☊.
159 reviews299 followers
September 2, 2020
I don’t know why I was feeling so generous when I initially slapped a two-star rating on this book. Perhaps I was still riding the high of Paradise Sky, or perhaps I was willing to ignore some of my annoyance due to the brevity of the story. But whatever the case may be, it’s time to rectify that error because, overall, this was a pretty awful reading experience.

Annihilation recounts the twelfth expedition into the mysterious Area X—an ecologically devastated swampland in the southern United States. All previous expeditions have gone pear-shaped in one way or another, with many explorers failing to ever return. Those that did, often reappeared in unexpected places, having been altered in some manner, with no accounting for lost time or their experiences in Area X. So as a means to provide the latest group with the best possible odds of success, they undergo an intensive months-long training regimen. Then all are hypnotized before crossing the border, due to the great difficulty previous expeditions encountered in trying to cope with the transition. They’re also directed to leave all of their personal identities behind, and keep a close watch on their colleagues for any signs of mental breakdown.

The all-female team is comprised of a biologist, anthropologist, surveyor, and a psychologist—no names are ever provided. Once across the border, the investigation begins in earnest and things start to get weird . . . really, really weird. However, one of the crippling side effects of stripping the group of their identities and watching for signs of stress is that suspicion and paranoia run rampant. Can the scientist set aside their mistrust of one another long enough to make any real progress in their investigation, or will Area X continue to stubbornly cling to its secrets?

I have to admit it all sounded rather intriguing to me. Well, except for one major problem—the story is recounted by the most unreliable of unreliable narrators. So almost immediately I began to question everything. What are we to believe? Was any of this actually happening, or was it all some crazy nightmare, or the ravings of a lunatic scribbling away on her notebook, sitting at her desk, staring out the window of an asylum?

“When you are too close to the center of a mystery there is no way to pull back and see the shape of it entire.” And the one we’re shrouded in here was thicker than pea soup. So much so, that I began to lose interest long before any of those big reveals began to flood in—not that there was much sense to be gleaned from them anyhow.

So here’s your litmus test. If the following phrase—which was written in a kind of living fungus on the walls of a stairwell descending into the bowels of the Earth, and repeated ad nauseam throughout the narrative—sounds fascinating to you, then by all means check it out for yourself: “Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner I shall bring forth the seeds of the dead to share with the worms that…”

But just know, that I too was initially intrigued by this gibberish, which I could only assume was some thinly veiled apocalyptic metaphor. But the further the story unfolded, the more it became apparent that no satisfyingly simple answers were to be provided. Although the book just oozes atmosphere—the flora smothers, the fauna stalks, the mold spores waft, the fungus is among us—the explanation for Area X was too goofy to make the time spent within its clutches seem all that worthwhile. So if you do decide to give it a go, be prepared for a total mind-fuck. As for me, all of my mounting frustration inevitably led the mystery to feel like an exercise in futility.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,102 followers
September 9, 2015
So I went to the Natural History Museum in NYC and watched a wonderful IMAX film about the wonders of the ocean world, the horrors of a living coral reef, and animals that more properly resembled plant life. One life form slowly devours another, using all the myriad tricks of evolution, from symbiosis and natural selection, to rise, unerringly, to be the top of the food chain.

I felt like I just read a SF/Horror hybrid that was just narrated by Jacques Cousteau, full of even and progressive prose, leading me inexorably to a great change. I can't quite place it as either the end of a feeding or the opening sequence of a brand new symbiosis.

Either way, this was definitely an awesome Biopunk novel, and I don't see any reason why it shouldn't have won 2014's Nebula. (And it did.)

I was reminded, of course, of Ballard's Crystal World, so many of Greg Bear's novels, but especially his novel Legacy. I can't ignore Perdido Street Station either, or any of the other great bio-enhanced SF that's out there, but I'll check my nostalgia at the door right here.

I was actually very impressed at the way Ghost Bird was handled, as a character, jumping back and forth from her past to her present regularly. Mr. VanderMeer purposefully turned his characters into cyphers, placed tons of limitations on them, and then set them loose to have their own life in this horrible place, but instead of staying limited, they broke out of their bonds like little expressions of fungi and animal-like protoplasms to slither across the page in unexpected ways. Ghost Bird, herself, was like a great ocean of denial, always telling us that she was no more than her surface appearing, and yet, every step of the way, she reflected back to us a great unconscious drive that kept pounding at us until she met the lighthouse keeper, and after.

Oddly enough, I had a horrible reaction while reading this. Does anyone know the music from Clockwork Orange? The one with the ditty about "I wanna marry a lighthouse keeper and keep him company?" Well, I kept hearing that tune throughout my reading of this novel, and what a counterpoint it was. I heartily recommend finding it and listening to it a dozen times while reading or rereading the awesome trippy crawler scenes. It opened up my experience in wonderful ways. :)

Horror is absolutely not dead, and thank god for it! It's just gone underground into New Weird and SF titles. It's been a good while coming, I know, but life changes. I'm just not certain whether horror is being consumed or becoming symbiotic. Who knows? It's the same thing with me. I come away from this novel feeling a bit infested. A bit glowy. Have I jumped the fence? I don't know. Maybe I'll never know.

There is one thing that I do know, though. I have to read the two sequels. It's too good not to.
Profile Image for Trudi.
615 reviews1,455 followers
August 8, 2014

Welcome to Area X. Ecologically pristine. Cut off from civilization. Hostile to humans. What lurks there? Does it have a name? Will you live to tell about what you've seen? Who will believe you?

If one can be said to "do" weird, then I don't think I do it very well. Annihilation -- the first book in the Southern Reach Trilogy -- is Weird with a capital 'W' with its roots in H.P. Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood. It has a post-modern mindfuck vibe as well reminiscent of House of Leaves.

That is to say, there were parts of this book that worked really well for me (especially the first half). I felt the epic creep and that twisting, squirming sense of dread of what I couldn't see, of what was lurking right in the corner of my eye. But as with most Weird fiction I've tried, there was a lot of "huh?" and a growing sense of impatience that acts like a maddening itch I can't scratch.

Ever sit on a sneeze that just won't happen for more than 15 minutes? Yeah, kinda like that. Or put another way, lots of really great, thoughtful foreplay that does not deliver on that big finish (I'm a fan of the big finish. The journey is nice and all but I need to know there is a final destination and that there will be fireworks when I get there, that this all means something. I hate ambiguity. It is not my friend).

This book is also well-written. If you are a fan of the word-smithing and an author who is in complete control of creating mood and atmosphere then this is something you might want to check out. There are scenes that practically pulse with claustrophobia and paranoia. The dread is definitely present and some of the reveals are quite shocking and satisfying. I just needed more. What should have been leading towards a crashing climax and a crescendo of realizations simply just....peters out with a whimper, instead of delivering on the bang. Did I mention how much I love the bang?

For you Weird aficionados out there and fans of the unreliable narrator (I'm primarily looking at you mark monday) you might want to give this a second look.
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,085 reviews68.4k followers
September 17, 2021
Mission Impossible
(Beowulf Rides Again)

An uncharted tower lies buried in the accumulated sediment of history. Living words lead downward to dangerous beasts. Something, an Event, happened here but no one remembers it. Interesting distractions are everywhere but nothing can be trusted. Everything has meaning but nothing makes sense, doesn’t fit together into a whole that’s clear. Shady innuendo abounds. Someone is lying. No one who has been here before has come back unscathed. All the clues are here but… . Is it reality? A dream? A drug-induced illusion? A set-up by some unfriendly authority? Or, perhaps, just an author’s adventurous adolescent fantasy? And, most important, what is at the bottom of that buried tower?

Other readers have identified similarities or references to other modern writers in Annihilation. I think many of these are apt and very likely. However, I think the book’s inspiration may be much more culturally embedded. This involves the poetic epic of Beowulf, written in Old English sometime around the first millennium but referring to even more ancient events in 6th century Scandinavia. Beowulf’s ‘Crawler,’ the beast in Annihilation’s Tower, is Grendel, whom Beowulf defeats by tearing off his arm. But this is not the end of the saga. Grendel’s mother is a much more serious foe than her son. Beowulf must fight her in her lair deep under a lake. The outcome is a draw.

Vandermeer’s story uses many similar tropes to those of the author of Beowulf - the ghoulish monster threatening the (relatively) civilised world, the hero’s plunging into the depths to confront the ultimate challenge alone, Beowulf’s abandonment by his colleagues in his last (deadly) battle, and even the reference to the injured arm (the psychologist’s in Annihilation). The generally mysterious background and location is similar in both emphasising their saga-like character.

And just as Beowulf contains subtle biblical references, so too does Annihilation with its mention of sacrifice, personal transformation, resurrection, and spiritual continuity. What interests me most is the author’s concluding reference to a thorn inserted into humanity’s gene pool from elsewhere. I suggest that this thorn is in fact language itself, an Event beyond recall and a possible biblical reference (Babel’s Tower) that indicates the power of language and its inherent destructiveness. It is also Beowulf’s final foe, the indestructible dragon, against which he cannot prevail. The very word ‘annihilation,’ representing all language, is a hypnotic command (or magical spell) provoking suicidal efforts.

Hence my outrageous subtitle above.
Profile Image for Debra .
2,421 reviews35.2k followers
February 10, 2018
I picked up this book at my local library because I saw the movie trailer and was intrigued. Knowing it was based on a book, I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie.

Four women, an Anthropologist, a Surveyor, a Psychologist, and a Biologist (the narrator) make up the 12th expedition to AREA X. They do not share their names - names aren't necessary, their research is the most important thing these women need to focus on while in Area X. Area X is an area which has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Many expeditions have gone into the area but were their expeditions successful - the first came back basically describing a utopia, others came back not quite themselves and died soon thereafter from cancer and some committed suicide.

I'm not quite sure why anyone would want to volunteer to join in on any of these expeditions after knowing those facts; however, these women enter Area X. The Biologist's husband was on Expedition 11 and his return was not quite so happy because he wasn't quite himself anymore.

The women on their expedition, encounter various strange life forms, an interesting topography and learn that one of them may have secrets. I will leave it at that. This book is a very fast read. I read it in one sitting. The book has a creepy feel as I never quite knew if Area X was an alien environment, had nature "found a way" or perhaps turned on them, was this some strange evolution thing going on, etc. You get the picture. I had a lot of questions while reading this book that never quite got answered. Plus, one character seemed to have secrets and we never go to learn about them. This is the first book in the series and hopefully there will be some answers to the questions.

I went back and forth while thinking about rating this book. Do I give it a 3 or a 3.5-star rating? I did sit and read it in one sitting. It completely sucked me in. I enjoyed the writing and the story, but it also frustrated me as I had so many questions while reading it. Of course, the Author is not going to answer all my questions, that is what the next two books are for, but I still wanted just "something" more. I also appreciated how this book was a blending on genres: Science fiction, horror, mystery, etc.

See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews277 followers
June 3, 2014
What occurred to create Area X ? Is it an alien outpost ? Is it another dimension breaking through into ours ? The Southern Reach, the political entity in charge, is keeping it all a secret from humanity at large. Yet expeditions are put together to investigate and research it's existence. None of the previous expeditions have returned alive or have survived long after returning.

Interestingly everyone who "crosses over" must be hypnotized in order to keep them sane. The exact methodology of "crossing over" is also kept secret with no exact instructions on how to get back. They are instructed to just return to the entry point and will be extracted.

None of the characters are named other than by there occupation, as names cause a level of familiarity that the Southern Reach does not want to occur. All members of the crew are instructed to "watch each other". The leader of expedition twelve uses hypnosis to control all the other members of the group. All four members of expedition twelve are women.

Our protagonist has joined the expedition as her husband was part of a previous expedition and things did not end well.

This was a most enjoyable book if one enjoys traveling into the unknown, unknown on all levels.
Profile Image for Hannah.
595 reviews1,055 followers
October 29, 2017
Oh I liked this so.

I had this book on my TBR for what feels like forever and I am so glad I finally read it. Jeff VanderMeer has a brilliant imagination and the world he creates feels utterly original, startlingly so, but still grounded in something like believability.

There is not all that much to the plot: four women embarque on an expedition into Area X; they are the 12th expedition of this kind and all the ones that came before ended somewhat mysteriously. The reader never really learns what Area X is and how it came to be and what exactly happened to the people who went before. It becomes clear that the participants have not been told the truth but also maybe haven't told the truth either. The biologist, who tells the story, is an unreliable narrator that I still found myself rooting for. This book is vague and does not give any answers but rather than that being annoying for me it only added to its allure. I have been thinking about this book ever since I finished it and the more I do so the more brilliant I find it.

Jeff VanderMeer's greatest talent lies in creating an atmosphere so all-encompassing that I felt like I was part of the story. The book is highly unsettling and set my pulse running; I could not stop reading and yet dreaded finding out what was going to happen next. This creepy, unsettling, brilliant atmosphere was my favourite part of the book (and I have NO idea how they are going to try and recreate this for the upcoming movie).

First sentence: "The Tower, which was not supposed to be there, plunges into the earth in a place just before the black pine forest begins to give way to swamp and then the reeds and wind-gnarled trees of the marsh flats."
Profile Image for L A i N E Y (will be back).
395 reviews696 followers
March 21, 2018
By the time we were ready to cross the border, we knew everything... and we knew nothing

(Basically the description of yours truly’s feeling after reading the last page of Annihilation)

Ok I need a sixth sense in order to really ‘get’ this book it seems. And since I unfortunately don’t have that, I cannot say I enjoyed this book more than a nicely bizarre story of an intelligent and atypical scientist on her adventure to this place called Area X, wherever or whatever that is.

I’m quite certain that if not for the relatively short length (159 pages), I’d abandon this about 30% in. The book was slow and strangely ‘detached’ in its narration. Parts of the book were super science-y in its descriptions so much so that it was difficult for me to ‘connect’ with, well, anything really!

Should have easily been an atmospheric read given the setting but turned out not to be, for some starnge reason...

rating: ★★½

Profile Image for Annet.
570 reviews735 followers
August 20, 2016
Need to think about this one. Mixed feelings about it... still haven't made my mind up completely. but no doubt the story is exceptional...
Really intriguing, weird story, kind of a hallucination.
I liked the story concept and you keep reading, wondering what the .... is going on and how it will all end... but I did not particularly love it. Vague happenings, flat characters, and for me pages of contemplations that were not always engaging.
Still, an exceptional, creepy storyline that makes you keep on reading.
To tell a lot about it would soon end in spoiling. Not sure yet if I will read the sequels in this trilogy, but then again... how will it continue? that is the attraction of this book.
Profile Image for Melki.
6,038 reviews2,388 followers
February 25, 2014
The first thing I noticed on the staging level before we reached the wider staircase that spiraled down, before we encountered again the words written on the wall...the tower was breathing. The tower breathed, and the walls when I went to touch them carried the echo of a heartbeat...and they were not made of stone but of living tissue.

Four scientists embark on an expedition to Area X.

From the beginning, they view each other with suspicion and doubt; it does not help that they have been encouraged NOT to share too much information as it may skew their observations.

This book is wrought with disquieting suspense. The tension begins within the first pages and never really lets up. I was reminded of seeing Alien for the first time. You know something REALLY BAD is going to happen. It's just a matter of when...and what...

Finding out the true meaning of the word "annihilation" as it relates to this book was absolutely chilling, as is one character's realization:

"Perhaps this expedition had a different purpose than what we were told."

Thank you, Lynn, for knowing I'd want to read this book before I even realized it myself.
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