Southern Reach Trilogy, Book 1

eBook - 2014
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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: 2014.
ISBN: 9781443428408
Characteristics: 1 online resource.

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Jun 18, 2018

I'm with lecopaw and Alfred367. I bought the trilogy and am dontaing it to the library. Very dense, mega-descriptive sentences and passages. Difficult to follow. Strangely enough, I did finish all 3 but, even now knowing the ending (?), it left me unsatisfied. I will not check out another book by this author.

May 30, 2018

unsettling, creative sci-fi mystery

OLATHEAllisonB May 25, 2018

A slow burning story with Lovecraftian elements, "Annihilation" is vague and unsettling. Vandermeer does a nice job describing just enough of the setting and beings in Area X so that it is up to the reader to imagine what they might look like, which can be far more frightening than being explicitly told how they look. But the most chilling parts of this book are the interactions among the 4 human women who make up the exploratory team in Area X. No names are used and everyone, including the main character, are referred to by their job titles in the outside world (although one of them may have another secret role that is never fully explained). Sinister mysteries lie beneath the events of the plot, pointing to the promise of learning more in the rest of the series. This is not a book for those who prefer clearly outlined stories with predictable checkpoints and a neatly-tied-up ending, but it is a short and interesting read.

May 13, 2018

A haunting narrative that is overly descriptive with no characterization except for the protagonist. The author conveys a chilling environment but not much logic(Even in the "real world") and we get no explanation for Area X ( A stupid name). As this book is quite short and published in the same year as the two other installments it is possible that when the trilogy is completed there is some sort of payoff. Hard to say at this point if it is worth reading.

May 11, 2018

This short book is a hard-to-put-down, compelling read, well-paced in its gradual revelation of new information. Through the precise, detached first person account of the mission’s biologist, we see her interpretation of the phenomena in the familiar, but alien landscape in an abandoned area somewhere in the southern US (or maybe not!). Aspects of her behaviour (she has characteristics of Asperger’s) and of her past make us believe that she has unique abilities to understand and withstand the peculiar manifestations of Area X. The only troubling aspect of the story line is why the series of teams sent into the area are misled in their briefing and preparation. Many mysteries remain at the end, setting up the second instalment of the trilogy.

May 07, 2018

This book started off slow, but by the end of the book, I was sad that it was over. It was a surprisingly good read.

For those who have watched the movie, either the director or the screen writer said that they had only read a couple chapters. So yes, it is different from the movie.

May 05, 2018

This was the longest short book I have read. If you enjoy endlessly contemplating your navel, this one's for you. I may or may not read the other two books of the series, or perhaps I already have, or thought perhaps that I should, but then again maybe it was only a whisper of a longing unobtainable or seen in a dream that dissolved within upon itself in another life made of this place in the depths of the tower.

DPLchandra Apr 26, 2018

Wait. What? Was that...? No. Wait. WHAT? This is one of those novels that when you finish, you're not quite sure what you read. Do not read this expecting everything to make sense, or to be neatly wrapped up in a tidy bow. Dreamlike fantasy/sci-fi. Weird. But good. But definitely weird.

Apr 11, 2018

Annihilation is the first in a trilogy of novellas called the Southern Reach Trilogy. These three novellas are about Area X, a large area that encompasses the Tallahassee, Florida area of our southern coastline. The novella is completely different from the film starring Natalie Portman. Frankly I find the film much better. The novella is much darker and does not have any kind of happy ending. This contains spoilers.

Five women are recruited for a top secret mission into Area X, the location of a natural disaster which has rendered an area of the US along the southern coastline unfit for permanent residence. A top secret government agency called the Southern Reach manages this area and has recruited for and authorized 12 expeditions in the past three years to see if the area is now habitable. Knowing this, five women volunteer and are prescreened to go: the psychologist (leader of the team), the surveyor (ex-military), the biologist, the anthropoligist, and the linguist. They are told not to learn each others' names and only to refer to each other by their skills. They are also systematically conditioned before entering Area X to become hypnotized under certain verbal phrases spoken by the psychologist. Already, the tale is pretty sinister. They are told that they are the 12th expedition. The 2nd expedition killed themselves and the 3rd expedition killed each other so they are not allowed to carry weapons except for small knives. The surveyor, however, is permitted to carry an automatic rifle with scope. A handgun for each person along with a couple of rifles are contained within a lock box that only the psychologist may open. They are told to only record their observations and not their feelings and then they are sent in. As they approach the border, they notice the linguist is missing and they're told she chickened out and isn't coming. So there are four who enter the breach.

The story is told from the viewpoint of the biologist who has always been a loner and has secretly come to find out what her dead husband experienced. He volunteered for Area X two years as part of the 11th expedition, was gone for a year, then turned up at home with no explanation or memory of how he got there. He was obviously brainwashed and acted like a zombie which frightened her so she called the government phone number he told her to call in case of emergency. Black ops military personnel from Area X descend on their home and take him to Area X where he is put under observation. She goes with him. There he is diagnosed with systemic cancer in his entire body. He dies six months later. She discovers that ALL of the 11th expedition died of cancer.

The four women are hypnotized by the psychologist in order to cross into the breach. (The shrink even hypnotizes herself.) At base camp they prepare to check out the lighthouse only they discover a tunnel before reaching the lighthouse. This was the purpose of their visit all along. As they descend into the tunnel they see written words sticking out from the side of the wall. Upon closer examination the biologist realizes these are a network of fungi. As she's examining them the fungi open and spray her with spores. She gets the group out of there but never tells them that she was infected. What she does discover is that the infection makes her immune to the effects of hypnosis. And that's when the story gets really sinister.

Apr 09, 2018

I am among the minority of commenters who found this boring. None of the characters behave in a believable manner, even so far as I can tell before they enter Area X. The long expositions of a narrator of questionable sanity can be tedious to follow unless you are committed to the series.

This is not science fiction, except to people who don't distinguish between science fiction, fantasy, and mysticism.

Needless to say,I am abandoning the trilogy.

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