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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
1,6301284,443 (3.72)181
  1. 50
    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. 20
    Authority by Jeff VanderMeer (sturlington)
  3. 20
    Solaris by Stanisław Lem (ShelfMonkey)
  4. 10
    The Dream Archipelago by Christopher Priest (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Both contain landscapes and people that play with with our sense of reality.
  5. 10
    Wool by Hugh Howey (thenothing)
    thenothing: dystopia, conspiracy
  6. 10
    The Ruins by Scott Smith (BeckyJG)
  7. 00
    The Other Side of the Mountain by Michel Bernanos (marietherese)
  8. 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).
  9. 00
    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.

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» See also 181 mentions

English (124)  All (1)  Italian (1)  All (126)
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
This is a fun cosmic horror novel in the tradition of Algernon Blackwood's "The Willows," H.P. Lovecraft, J.G. Ballard's early disaster novels such as The Drowned World and The Crystal World, and the work of Thomas Ligotti. As an editor of the online magazine Weird Fiction Review, a collection of "New Weird" fiction, and the century spanning anthology The Weird Compendium, Jeff Vandermeer knows this tradition very well.

These works are not known for protagonists who are likable and well-rounded.They are usually obsessives who serve as a vehicle for observing the unimaginable cosmic forces that overpower the human world. This is what we have here, a biologist who observes and records and whose backstory is also about observing and recording. The test of a novel like this is how well it pulls off the descriptions of the uncanny, unimaginable, and inexplicable things the protagonist observes and whether we identify with the protagonist's death drive to not only observe but to willingly merge with and lose herself in these forces.

I admit it took me about 40 pages to shake the specter of Lost hanging over my reading experience. After that I really enjoyed Vandermeer's hallucinatory descriptions of the mysterious goings-on in Area X and found myself wanting to experience the dissolution of self the biologist so clearly desires. The build-up to the finale left me wondering how well Vandermeer would pull off the encounter with the ultimate horror and he didn't disappoint. I even grew to like this character in a way I have never liked the protagonists of Lovecraft, Ballard, or Ligotti. There's a sadness and melancholy here that is not present in those writers' work.

Not to get too lit-critty (except that it's, like, my job), but the writing found on the wall of the Tower and the source of the writing is a cool metaphor for the tradition of cosmic horror itself writing its way like a machine through Vandermeer's novel. I mean, it is essentially Lovecraft/Ligotti pastiche.

On to Authority! ( )
  wyattbonikowski | Jan 11, 2017 |
This is just a taste for a proper review to follow.   What freaked-up daydream I've just woken up from.   What lingers after having read it is the unbearable dread that it gives off. I've always thought that Vandermeer can set a book's atmosphere like no other writer. I just wish this volume and the two to come out this year should have been published as a single unity. That aside the first volume still works on several levels.   Another writer would not have been able to write a first volume as contained in itself as this one was. The ending was strange and a little bit off-putting. This would prove deeply unsatisfying in most novels, making me suspicious the writer couldn't actually decide what was going on, but it works here.   After "Finch" (which I didn't like), Vandermeer is the true master of the weird, the gory,. He's always able to pull twisted narrative threads out like a loose stitch." ( )
  antao | Dec 10, 2016 |
I would really like to give this 3.5 stars because it was better than 3, but not really a 4. Interesting concept and interesting heroine, but this short book seems to drag at times. The action and mystery at the end are what push it more towards the 4 stars. I'm glad this is a trilogy, because it left a lot of questions unanswered. Great for sci-fi and biology fans because it is told by a biologist. -Audio ( )
  aurorapaigem | Nov 23, 2016 |
I really expected to like this book, but didn't. I think VanderMeer does some great character work here, but I could not get into the world-building, and really the world-building is the whole thing.

I also felt like there weren't a lot of complex ideas here, no real food for thought. It's a horror story, a well-done horror story, but still a horror story, and I don't really enjoy horror stories. So I see why people with different fictional interests like this, but it wasn't my cuppa and I have no interest in finishing the trilogy. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
Lovecraftian horror, creeping and indirect. Lean, but not taut. A snake sunning itself on the path ahead. ( )
  CKHarwood | Oct 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 124 (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
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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