This book is proof that you don’t need bug-eyed monsters or little green men to convey a sense of strangeness. Jeff VanderMeer achieves that in Annihilation, conjuring up a setting that abounds in all the usual terrestrial flora and fauna. The impression of alienness is heightened by a nameless narrator — and several other characters who also remain nameless. There is great mystery about this place, called Area X, but it lies either on Earth or on its double.
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
The narrator is an unusually introverted woman who is a biologist, a member of a five-person scientific team that is the twelfth expedition dispatched by unnamed superiors to plumb the mystery of Area X. All five are women. One is a linguist, a second an anthropologist, another a surveyor, the last a psychologist. Even before they cross the mysterious, invisible barrier that lies at the fringe of Area X, the linguist drops out, leaving just four on the team. Together, they proceed using a map they’ve received from their superiors, heading toward a lighthouse on the coast, but quickly discover that the map has omitted . . . something. Something very important. That something is the centerpiece of the plot. And as the four women walk further into Area X, their behavior begins to change in peculiar ways. Is the . . . something the source of the changes? How will we know?
Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy #1) by Jeff VanderMeer ★★★★☆
Winner of the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Novel
Annihilation is devilishly clever, well written, and hard to put down. The novel effectively conveys a sense of strangeness, and the suspense is overpowering.
Jeff VanderMeer is an award-winning science fiction writer based in New York. In addition to the three novels that constitute the Southern Reach Trilogy — the others are Authority and Acceptance — he has written several other novels.
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