Book - 2014
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Eleven secret government expeditions and few have returned unscathed-the first book in VanderMeer's exciting new Southern Reach Trilogy and soon to be a major motion picture

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization, and the government is involved in sending secret missions to explore Area X. 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.

Annihilation opens with the twelfth expedition. The group is composed of four women, including our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all of their observations, scientific and otherwise; and, above all, to avoid succumbing to the unpredictable effects of Area X itself.

What they discover shocks them: first, a massive topographic anomaly that does not appear on any map; and second, life forms beyond anything they're equipped to understand. But it's the surprises that came across the border with them that change everything-the secrets of the expedition members themselves, including our narrator. What do they really know about Area X-and each other?

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2014
Edition: 1st Canadian ed
ISBN: 9781443428392
Branch Call Number: SF VAN
Characteristics: 195 p. ;,20 cm


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Apr 05, 2021

This is a good book. It does a really good job with the subtle atmospheric horror and sci-fi vibe. I wouldn't recommend the next two books in the trilogy, since they don't really continue with the same atmosphere which the first book captured so well, although they aren't necessarily bad books.

Dec 28, 2020

Here's a word to describe this book: Perturbing. Now perhaps you like being unsettled in this way, which I guess is why there are whole genres of these kinds of books. Maybe for what it is, Annihilation is a good book. But this is my first (and most likely last) time reading this genre, so take my comments with a grain of salt. Let's start with what I did enjoy: the experience of a new and puzzling genre and the premise of exploring an unknown world with mystifying secrets. I just got bored on the journey! There was little action compared to the pages and pages of the narrator describing her childhood, her relationship with her husband, her scientific studies. Yawn. And the concept was so unreal that it didn't keep me engaged and definitely has not interested me in the rest of the trilogy. I also didn't like the way it reads like a dream. And not in the romantic sense of the word—I mean an actual dream: weird, vague, all-over-the-place; a hazy nightmare. I feel like there are deeper themes, but too vague or ambiguous for me to really understand which only made me feel stupid. But these are only my feelings about the book, and I see many others have really enjoyed it.

Oct 16, 2020

Jeff VanderMeer’s novel “Annihilation” bears little resemblance to the movie. If you were a fan of the movie, you may not like the book. The book is a slow burn cerebral experience that never really catches fire. Yes, there are many interesting things, but the story never ignites my imagination. It is just not my taste, though it may be yours. I’m glad I read it and believe there are many who will love it. I have no interest in reading the rest of the series.

May 15, 2020

This book is an excellent, atmospheric and unsettling spin on the science-fiction genre. A group of scientists, all of them women, are tasked with venturing into Area X: a coastal area that has been abandoned for 30 years which has produced a scientific phenomenon known as The Shimmer. The Shimmer appears as a strange glow that seems to change and morph the DNA of all organisms within it. The Shimmer is growing steadily in size, and the group of women are required to record any and all information they encounter, as well as trying to find clues about all of the previous expeditions. They are then required to return with their findings. These women are the 12th expedition into Area X; all previous expeditions have been fraught with lapses in communication, suicides, death, and mysterious disappearances.

The group of women are comprised of a biologist, a surveyor, a psychologist, and an anthropologist. The story unfolds as a series of observations from the biologist's field journal. We learn that the biologist's husband was one of the people in a previous expedition, and we see that this mission takes on a personal meaning for her as she tries to learn what happened to her husband. As readers, we also learn that the narrator, the biologist, is highly unreliable. She quickly lies to her teammates in order to venture further into Area X, despite one of the women disappearing and a series of mysterious incidents occurring. Vandermeer is excellent at slowly building tension and horror, and as the women venture deeper into Area X, the events that unfolds become even more mysterious and eventually, horrifying.

Many readers were frustrated that the end of the book left many questions unanswered, but I appreciated it; sometimes I feel that works of art that leave you with questions are often more powerful and impactful than those works that tie up all loose ends. This book is the first in a trilogy, and I will definitely be reading the next in the series to continue with this strange and fascinating journey. I also really loved that all of the main characters in this work were women; that is very uncommon in a genre such as science fiction. Overall, I found this work fascinating and there were times where I could not put the book down because I wanted to find out what happens next. I highly recommend this book.

RyanR_KCMO May 07, 2020

This book is another perfect example of science fiction at its best. Instead of using shockingly alien and bizarre situations for some effect, VanderMeer puts his characters into situations predicated by an anomaly but focuses on their very human and regular interactions. VanderMeer also respects the reader by not turning over all the stones and giving away the mystery. There are still so many questions at the end of the book. These blatant omissions are tools to focus the story not on the things being uncovered in “Area X,” but instead on the people sent to do the uncovering.

MickWF Apr 09, 2020

Unlike any book I’ve ever read. A perfectly strange blend unsettling beauty, slow burning tension and environmental cosmic horror. At less than 200 pages, this quick read stuck with me longer than any other book. It’s the first part of a trilogy, so make sure you have the other two on hand by the time you finish this one!

HCL_staff_reviews Mar 23, 2020

I was listening to NPR last year and heard a review of "Annihilation," and was intrigued. I put it on my Goodreads to-read list and finally got around to reading it this winter. I couldn't put it down. It chronicles an expedition to Area X, a quarantined area on a coast in an unidentified part of (an alternative, future?) United States. This is the first book of the Southern Reach trilogy, part of a genre called weird fiction. The main character in the book is "The Biologist," one of an expedition of the team of four into Area X from an organization called the Southern Reach. The team does not use their names and is composed of all females because they are trying to avoid problems that came up with the previous 11 expeditions. High jinks ensue, with the Biologist being simultaneously affected by and accepting the strange powers of Area X while also trying to keep a scientific mind. I had to read the sequel, "Authority," immediately after I finished the book. A great introduction to weird fiction. — Ian S., Communication

Tigard_AdrianneD Feb 23, 2020

Our detached and possibly unreliable narrator, a biologist, takes us through Area X, a pristine wilderness blocked off by mysterious forces filled with unusual animals. The biologist is part of the 12th expedition into Area X, feeling the urge to go there after her husband came back from the previous expedition a shell of who he was. VanderMeer has created an interesting space filled with lots of unknowns, and you don't get many answers in this book, and maybe not even in the trilogy. Still, the mystery is enough to hold you, and being left with questions only makes the mind wonder, and the work that much engaging.

OPL_AnnaW Dec 20, 2019

The first book in VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, this is sci-fi for folks that may not label themselves sci-fi readers. Mysterious things are happening in Area X, and a select group of professionals are tasked with figuring out why.

Sep 19, 2019

Numerous expeditions have been dispatched to explore the newly-discovered and bewildering Area X, but participants always come back altered or die prematurely (when they return at all). An unnamed biologist, whose husband participated in a previous expedition and has since died of cancer, joins the newest team setting out, and things get pretty creepy right away.

I guess I was expecting this to be a thriller of some kind, maybe even psychological. It was overall...unexciting, with no real climax of "aha" moment. Even the mysterious creatures were rather dull. I found I didn't really care what happened to the protagonist, and certainly not enough to read any further into the series.

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Dec 28, 2020

Some questions will ruin you if you are denied the answer long enough.

MickWF Apr 09, 2020

That’s how the madness of the world tries to colonize you: from the outside in, forcing you to live in its reality.


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