Book - 2014 | First Edition.
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Area X has claimed the lives of members of eleven expeditions. The twelfth expedition consisting of four women hopes 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.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.
Edition: First Edition.
ISBN: 9780374104092
Branch Call Number: S VANDERMEER, J.
Characteristics: 195 pages ; 19 cm.


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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.

Jul 17, 2019

Though most would consider it horror, Annihilation reads more like science fiction that unsettles the reader with its oddities and warped distance from reality. The narration is engaging and kept me enveloped for its entirety. I've never read another book quite like it, and I'm glad for it.

Jul 15, 2019

I stopped reading the Southern Reach Trilogy after the 2nd book. "Annihilation" was okay but purposefully and frustratingly hard to read. But it was a LOT better than the 2nd book "Authority" in which almost nothing of real interest or note occurred until the end, which of course being a trilogy resolved nothing. I'm serious - half the sentences in "Authority" were questions the 3rd person John Rodriguez (new director of the Area X research facility) was asking HIMSELF! And there was so much clutter in the story, about who wore what, back histories that were irrelevant and detailed descriptions of people coming and going. I couldn't believe this series was actually liked. I have just finished a collection of all of H.P. Lovecraft's works and his best stories do not compate at all - at least he eventually resolved the plot. And to boot, Jeff decides to make the lighthouse keeper gay, as if to check a political correctness box in the final book "Acceptance".

Hard pass - there is far better scifi out there.

May 11, 2019

Annihilation is the first book in a trilogy about agents of a clandestine government agency exploring a forbidden territory.

Annihilation is a parable about personal identity, epistemological frustration, and the elastic boundaries of human consciousness.

Annihilation is a short novel structured around themes of exploration, control, and survival. The principal character and narrator, identified only as "the biologist," is simultaneously de-personalized and carrying out a deeply personal agenda regarding her lost husband. She is part of a small team which experiences catastrophic internal conflict, and she encounters phenomena of evidently non-human origin that are overwhelmingly exotic. The book defies genre, but I might class it as mystical horror, with some science fiction and espionage tropes.

Despite the obvious differences, Jeff VanderMeer's "Area X" and the "Kefahuchi Tract" of M. John Harrison's novels (Light, etc.) have more than a little in common. The infection/mutation of characters and their ambivalent encounters with transcendent power are in both cases oriented toward a mysterious region of putatively non-human influence. Protagonists have all-too-human motives working themselves out in shockingly inhuman contexts. VanderMeer's prose is less writerly than Harrison's, but it is efficient and engaging, and both manage the sort of impressionistic feat of bringing the reader to identify with the crucial ignorance of the characters, who are themselves not terribly sympathetic in their traits and histories.

I enjoyed this book and its two sequels.

Feb 23, 2019

"Annihilation" tackles difficult subject matter- change, death, self-destruction- through a mind-bending and reality-warping sci-fi/horror lens. There's true horror to be found in these pages; and yet, at the same time, somewhat hidden beneath the layer of existential dread there lies a sense of beauty.

Hillsboro_RobP Feb 04, 2019

I'm starting to think that Jeff Vandermeer books should come with a disclaimer: Vandermeer does not care what the reader thinks.
Annihilation is half a beautiful exploration of genre creativity and half a maddening slog of vague hints and unanswered questions.
I have to applaud what Vandermeer did with his protagonist. You are not going to like her, and you definitely shouldn't trust her. I've read two of this author's books, and never has the narrator been reliable. The other characters are just as meticulously created. Some might even be the true protagonist.
I found myself, much like Annihilation's characters, crafting wild theories about the narrative with no way to reach a true conclusion. A fascinating short novel of literature-twisting science fiction.

Jan 10, 2019

Pretty slow-going, hard to understand what is happening, and not much action. At the end of the book, you still won't understand what the mystery holds or what is going on - need to read the next 2 books in the series. Wouldn't invest the time in the 3 book series if I had to do it over again, but each book does get better as characters carry over from book-to-book and you gain more understanding of the "border" and "Area X".

IndyPL_SteveB Jan 09, 2019

Creepy and compelling short SF novel, first of a series. If the movie *Alien* could be described as a “haunted house in space”, perhaps this book could be described as an “ecological haunted house” story.

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the Earth for decades. Eventually the government (we are not told *which* government) found an entryway, so they sent an expedition to explore it. Then more expeditions. Disasters occurred: sometimes no one came back; sometimes the expedition members killed each other; sometimes they came back but strangely blank or dying. The 12th expedition is composed of only four women – a biologist (our focal character), an anthropologist, a surveyor, and a psychologist. On the first day in base camp they discover an odd tunnel, which the biologist insists should be called a tower. As bad decisions are made and the biologist gets deeper into Area X, the reader is filled with dread.

Very well written but not a good book to be read late at night.

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