REVIEW by Carole: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

The Southern Reach Trilogy begins with this Nebula Award-winning novel that “reads as if Verne or Wellsian adventurers exploring a mysterious island had warped through into a Kafkaesque nightmare world” (Kim Stanley Robinson).

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 another, 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.





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About the Book

by Jeff VanderMeer

Southern Reach Trilogy Book One

Science Fiction & Fantasy

FSG Originals

Publication Date
February 4, 2014

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Carole’s Review

I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway years ago and for one reason or another, it never seemed to be the right time to pick it up and I eventually forgot all about it.  When the movie based on this book was released last year, I remembered that I had a copy of the book and pushed it to the top of my tbr pile.  I think one of the reasons, I didn’t pick it up years ago was that I feared I would need to read the whole trilogy to get the entire story but I found that this book worked well on its own.  I am glad that I finally decided to give it a try.

This was a weird little book.  Really weird.  I like weird so that isn’t a bad thing but I also found this book to be rather confusing at times and I am not a fan of confusing.  This was one of those books that made you wonder what was even happening at times and I think that the unknown elements of the story added to the overall mystery.  This story was set in a world where absolutely anything could happen and there was no predicting what might happen next.

I really can’t say that I liked any of the characters but I was intrigued by the biologist.  The story is told from the biologist’s point of view so the reader does get a little bit of her history.  The characters are known only by their occupation and assigned roles.  I didn’t really feel like I got to know this group of women all that well but it was interesting to see how each one dealt with the situation.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something out of the ordinary and a little strange.  This was a well-written story that moved quickly and kept me guessing.  I do feel rather satisfied by how this book ended and doubt that I will ever continue with the trilogy but would definitely be interested in reading more from this author.

See All Reviews by Carole


The review copy of this book was won by the reviewer via a Goodreads giveaway. All titles reviewed on this blog are a fair and honest assessment of the book. No monetary compensation was received in exchange for this review. For more information regarding our review process, please visit our Review Policy & Review Request Submission page.


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