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Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer


by Jeff VanderMeer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Southern Reach Trilogy (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,7811303,942 (3.71)194
  1. 60
    Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky (Tuirgin)
    Tuirgin: The Strugatsky Bros.' Roadside Picnic seems to be a touchstone of the Southern Reach Trilogy—and this continues with greater parallels in Authority. The styles of writing are entirely different, but the concept of Area X is a definite echo of the Zone. Roadside Picnic is a classic of European Science Fiction and well worth reading.… (more)
  2. 30
    Authority by Jeff VanderMeer (sturlington)
  3. 20
    Solaris by Stanisław Lem (ShelfMonkey)
  4. 10
    Wool by Hugh Howey (thenothing)
    thenothing: dystopia, conspiracy
  5. 10
    Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer (LiteraryReadaholic)
  6. 21
    American Gods by Neil Gaiman (LiteraryReadaholic)
  7. 10
    The Dream Archipelago by Christopher Priest (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Both contain landscapes and people that play with with our sense of reality.
  8. 10
    The Ruins by Scott Smith (BeckyJG)
  9. 10
    The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway (hairball)
    hairball: Maybe it's the fuzzy cover of the one book, but they remind me of each other.
  10. 00
    The Last Letter (Conversation Pieces, Vol 31) by Fiona Lehn (psybre)
    psybre: Also set in an odd near-future (where an environmental disaster has made an entire island dangerous and soon to become uninhabitable).
  11. 00
    The Other Side of the Mountain by Michel Bernanos (marietherese)

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» See also 194 mentions

English (127)  All (1)  Italian (1)  All (129)
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
Just the right mix of mystery and action. Very clever. Looking forward to getting my teeth into book2 ( )
  CarolynDenman | Jul 21, 2017 |
The borders of Area-X are ever expanding, inch by inch, millimeters, how much is unknown. Does it extend into the ocean? How did it come into existence? What exactly is It and is it a threat to humanity? The Southern Reach recruits volunteers to enter the secret confines of Area-X to search out answers to these very concerns.

None of the volunteers have names, just designation of skill. Names are for people who do not come to this place, they are left behind at the shimmering ethereal border, along with the rest of the worlds distractions. The volunteers in this research team include the Psychiatrist, the Engineer, the Biologist, and the Anthropologist. Within hours of setting up base camp, it is clear that Area-X is not an untouched Muir wonderland of nature and joy. The underground Tower of endless stairs and cryptic writing on the walls made of organic materials and microbial spores proves this.

The 30 years secret zone is filled with wild life, and confusing references to previous human existence. Houses that are nothing but shells, a lighthouse that carries mass significance in the Area-X training process. The animal life is bizarre, and at night a moaning tortured sound comes from the swamp. None of these things matter however, only the Tower and learning who wrote the words.

Overall, I was gripped. I read the majority of Annihilation whilst on a business trip. Airports, cab rides, lonely hotel rooms. It was appreciated that I could be consumed so easily into a fictional world. I moved from page to page anxiously devising theories of my own regarding the origins if Area-X and the mysterious Southern Reach. I was incredibly pleased with the end and satisfied with the level of questions remaining as a reader.

I was not sure what I was getting into with this Novel. It was well written, but purposefully clumsy in areas as the protagonist (lovingly referred to by her husband as his Ghost Bird) is capturing thoughts in a field journal. It clicked about thirty pages in when it became clear that the minds of all volunteers have been tampered with in order to create an artificial calm in times of stress. This causes some strange reactions that previously made little sense.

Annihilation has me in two connundrums. One: I read this with the expectation of a standalone novel. I have no idea why I thought this was a solo work, as the cover of the novel clearly states it is a trilogy, but I never claimed to be the smartest man around. Typically the trouble is that I really dont like starting book series when the risk is high that I will have time to finish it. This risk increases with lesser know authors who may never even write a sequel, no matter how much a reader would like it. Turns out this novel, which easily is packaged as a one time read, is the first in the Southern Reach trilogy. The publisher removed a lot of my risk/fear by releasing books two and three only months apart from Annihilation. The question now is should I read the next two, risking the possibility of modifying my standalone novel satisfaction? It is not common that a series can be so successfully compartmentalized..

I likely will. Otherwise...

Conundrum two: I could never read this article written by VanderMeer on TheAtlantic with out feeling like I cheated.. The Atlantic: From Annihilation to Acceptance, A writers surreal journey

It covers the writing process associated with signing up for three books in a year. I read a couple paragraphs and am highly fascinated, but dont want to risk spoilers that I can see are littered through out it.


This book was provided for review purposes by the publisher, this makes me incredibly grateful as I REALLY LIKE BOOKS. ( )
  JasonBrownPDX | Jun 12, 2017 |
Mixed thoughts...a very odd, short book, but still intriguing. I suppose the proof will be in the sequel(s), because at first reading, I did not like the style nor the world he created. Apart from the weird tableau, his insistence on the anonymity of his characters in this book is annoying (referring to them only as their professions, or "my husband"). Still, there is a creativity that is there and I certainly didn't read this expecting something familiar. The story however, while clearly an opener for something to follow - meaning unresolved mysteries leaving the reader hanging - did not end with me wanting more... I barely forced myself to finish this one.

I should reveal that this is the first fiction of VanderMeer's I've read. It could well have been the last, but I will read at least the next to see if it gets better and I do admit curiosity to see where he is going. If he was trying for scary...sorry, the annoyance factor eliminated that (but to be fair, no fiction book can ever scare me). Eerie? Well, yes, but "weird" is a better descriptor. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Haunting story of a mystery that remains a tantalizing mystery still at the end of the book. In many respects this book reminded me of A Voyage to Arcturus by David Lindsay. The plots bear no similarity, but the sense that I can almost understand what the story is about is very similar. This explains the wide range of responses to this book. Some people love it, others hate it. If you want all the answers by the end of the book, then this is not for you, because by the end of the book you will probably have even more questions.

I also was intrigued by the book, because as a biologist myself, I can relate to the main character. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
Kinda torn on this one. The first 90% was extraordinary. Very very disappointing ending. ( )
1 vote kallai7 | Mar 23, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 127 (next | show all)
...strange, clever, off-putting, maddening, claustrophobic, occasionally beautiful, occasionally disturbing and altogether fantastic...Annihilation is a book meant for gulping — for going in head-first and not coming up for air until you hit the back cover.
added by zhejw | editNPR, Jason Sheehan (Feb 7, 2014)
"Annihilation," in which the educated and analytical similarly meets up with the inhuman, is a clear triumph for Vandermeer, who after numerous works of genre fiction has suddenly transcended genre with a compelling, elegant and existential story of far broader appeal.
added by zhejw | editLos Angeles Times, Lydia Millet (Jan 20, 2014)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jeff VanderMeerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aula, NikoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blomeyer, MarionCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellner, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyquist, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strick, CharlotteCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
The tower, which was not supposed to be there, plunges into the earth in a place just before the black pine forest begins to give way to swamp and then the reeds and wind-gnarled trees of the marsh flats. Beyond the marsh flats and the natural canals lies the ocean and, a little farther down the coast, a derelict lighthouse. All of this part of the country had been abandoned for decades, for reasons that are not easy to relate. Our expedition was the first to enter Area X for more than two years, and much of our predecessors’ equipment had rusted, their tents and sheds little more than husks. Looking out over that untroubled landscape, I do not believe any of us could yet see the threat.
Desolation tries to colonize you.
"Annihilation!" she shrieked at me, flailing in confusion.  "Annihilation! Annihilation!" The word seemed more meaningless the more she repeated it, like the cry of a bird with a broken wing.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374104093, Paperback)

If J.J. Abrams, Margaret Atwood, and Alan Weisman collaborated on a novel . . . it might be this awesome

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. 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.
     This is the twelfth expedition.
     Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is 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.
     They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.
     Annihilation is the first volume in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, which will be published throughout 2014: volume two (Authority) in June, and volume three (Acceptance) in September.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:32 -0400)

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.… (more)

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