Series or Standalone: Southern Reach #1
Genre: Adult Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror
Publication Date: February 4th 2014
“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.”
The first in its trilogy, Annihilation follows a crew of four women, who undertake the twelfth expedition into an environmental disaster zone known as Area X. Governed by a secret governmental agency known as The Southern Reach, little is known about Area X or this governmental body.
Whilst this book follows the journey of four women into Area X, it focuses solely on the perspective of The Biologist. The narration is incredibly introspective and the complexity of the character makes this book special.
“Names belonged to where we had come from, not to who we were while embedded in Area X”
This small group of women know nothing about each other aside from their professions – to which they are referred to as. Vandermeer does not build any sense of camaraderie between them. Quite the opposite. Which aided to the eeriness of the story and helped give the novel tension. Loyalties and sanity are continuously questioned.
“It was a test of a fragile trust. It was a test of our curiosity and fascination, which walked side by side with our fear.”
Whilst I anticipated this would be slightly eerie, I did not at all feel like this was a horror novel. (As it is shelved as ‘horror’ on Goodreads.) I’m also someone who’s scared relatively easily? I’m really confused by this, truly. This was a more… gentle science fiction novel, if I can put it that way. In that it is slow-paced story peppered with intricate reflections on The Biologists life.
My biggest gripe with this book, was that on some occasions I had no idea what was happening. Having read a few reviews, it appears I’m not the only one who is confused! This Vandermeer could be illustrating something in great detail and I still would have had no idea what he truly meant. Consequently, I struggled to create mental images in my mind and became really annoyed as that takes me out of the story. Hopefully movie will illustrate a lot of what happened so I can come to understand.
The immensity of the situation slightly crept up on me, but ultimately wasn’t as satisfying as I’d hoped. Although I did enjoy it and am intrigued enough to continue with the series. Honestly, like many people at this time the movie is kind of why I picked this one up and I’m more excited for the movie.