- Annihilation - Southern Reach: Book 1 (Jeff VanderMeer)
- 208 pages
- Fourth Estate Ltd
- ISBN-10: 0007550715
- ISBN-13: 978-0007550715
None of the volunteers have names, just designation of skill. Names are for people who do not come to this place, they are left behind at the shimmering ethereal border, along with the rest of the worlds distractions. The volunteers in this research team include the Psychiatrist, the Engineer, the Biologist, and the Anthropologist. Within hours of setting up base camp, it is clear that Area-X is not an untouched Muir wonderland of nature and joy. The underground Tower of endless stairs and cryptic writing on the walls made of organic materials and microbial spores proves this.
The 30 years secret zone is filled with wild life, and confusing references to previous human existence. Houses that are nothing but shells, a lighthouse that carries mass significance in the Area-X training process. The animal life is bizarre, and at night a moaning tortured sound comes from the swamp. None of these things matter however, only the Tower and learning who wrote the words.
Overall, I was gripped. I read the majority of Annihilation whilst on a business trip. Airports, cab rides, lonely hotel rooms. It was appreciated that I could be consumed so easily into a fictional world. I moved from page to page anxiously devising theories of my own regarding the origins if Area-X and the mysterious Southern Reach. I was incredibly pleased with the end and satisfied with the level of questions remaining as a reader.
I was not sure what I was getting into with this Novel. It was well written, but purposefully clumsy in areas as the protagonist (lovingly referred to by her husband as his Ghost Bird) is capturing thoughts in a field journal. It clicked about thirty pages in when it became clear that the minds of all volunteers have been tampered with in order to create an artificial calm in times of stress. This causes some strange reactions that previously made little sense.
Annihilation has me in two conundrums. One: I read this with the expectation of a standalone novel. I have no idea why I thought this was a solo work, as the cover of the novel clearly states it is a trilogy, but I never claimed to be the smartest man around. Typically the trouble is that I really don't like starting book series when the risk is high that I will have time to finish it. This risk increases with lesser know authors who may never even write a sequel, no matter how much a reader would like it. Turns out this novel, which easily is packaged as a one time read, is the first in the Southern Reach trilogy. The publisher removed a lot of my risk/fear by releasing books two and three only months apart from Annihilation. The question now is should I read the next two, risking the possibility of modifying my standalone novel satisfaction? It is not common that a series can be so successfully compartmentalized..
I likely will. Otherwise...
Conundrum two: I could never read this article written by VanderMeer on The Atlantic with out feeling like I cheated.. The Atlantic: From Annihilation to Acceptance, A writers surreal journey
It covers the writing process associated with signing up for three books in a year. I read a couple paragraphs and am highly fascinated, but don't want to risk spoilers that I can see are littered through out it.
Disclosure- This book was provided for review purposes by the publisher, this makes me incredibly grateful as I REALLY LIKE BOOKS. I am also a fan of cookies, but have thus far been able to refrain from merging the two and having a terrible belly ache caused by ingesting sugar and wood pulp.