I need to stop picking up the first books of series because I get sucked in and
can’t possibly read any of the other 9,000 books on my “to-read” shelf until I’ve finished the whole series. And Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer (the first book in his Southern Reach trilogy) definitely sucked . . . me in, that is.
This is not a book for everyone. The reason I know this for sure is because it was my pick for our book club at work and one of my managers hated it (her words). Granted, I think she’s pretty picky, but so far it has received mixed reviews. But at least it makes for an interesting discussion. (I know this because our book club meeting lasted about twice as long as the previous one and my manager ended up giving it 3 1/2 stars instead of zero.)
This book is hard to describe, but I’ll try to give you the basic set-up (all of this is on the back of the book, so no spoilers). There’s this place called Area X, cut off from the rest of the world where nature has completely taken over human civilization. A group called the Southern Reach has been sending small groups into Area X to explore the area, to record observations and map the terrain. Some expeditions ended in mass suicide, others in civil warfare. Some members of the last expedition actually returned to their families, but they were like empty shells of their former selves and all died of cancer within the year. This book starts with the twelfth expedition, made up of four women, and documented through the eyes of the biologist.
And then, well, shit goes down.
My guess is that if you like shows like Lost and Fringe (wassup, J.J. Abrams), you’ll probably like this book. I even got some Stranger Things, Lord of the Flies, and Twilight Zone vibes from this book. (Also Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft vibes, according to some of the people in book club). I haven’t read the other two, yet, but already I have endless theories about what the hell is happening. I have a feeling that in the next one I’ll probably find out some answers, but they’ll most likely lead to thousands more questions. Seriously, this book was infuriating like that, and I loved every second.
All that’s left for me to do is to read the other books and also bug all my friends to read them so that I have someone to obsess over them with me.
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★