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by Jeff VanderMeer

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Southern Reach Trilogy (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,8391126,998 (3.58)1 / 92
It is winter in Area X. A new team embarks across the border on a mission to find a member of a previous expedition who may have been left behind. As they press deeper into the unknown--navigating new terrain and new challenges--the threat to the outside world becomes only more daunting. In the final installment of the Southern Reach Trilogy, the mysteries of Area X may have been solved, but their consequences and implications are no less profound--or terrifying.… (more)
  1. 10
    As She Climbed Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem (sturlington)
    sturlington: I feel VanderMeer must have been reading early Jonathan Lethem when he wrote the Southern Reach trilogy, as well as watching old episodes of Lost.

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» See also 92 mentions

English (108)  Chinese, traditional (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (111)
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
I loved it, even though it strays even further from the Annihilation-style compact single story than Authority does. A satisfying conclusion to the trilogy despite (because of?) the questions it leaves unanswered. I can't make up my mind which of the stories I like more, Ghost Bird, Saul, or the Director. ( )
  misslevel | Sep 22, 2021 |
True horror is extremely difficult to come across these days. Thanks to CG in movies, horror has devolved into a cartoonish mess. (Most) Writers, meanwhile, focus on the grotesque, leaving little to the imagination. VanderMeer skips all that, building horror out of being present in a place rather than what really inhabits it. Sadly, it’s mired in pacing issues with the boring parts outnumbering the exciting ones.

Annihilation’s beginning is atrociously slow, leaving the reader in total mystery. It isn’t until the second act that the horror truly unfolds through slow, sweet build-up. There’s palpable tension between the characters, though most of them are utterly forgettable. It’s the Psychologist and the Biologist who really shine through. Unfortunately, even their characterizations feel ponderous and heavy, with the author often spending huge chunks of text on their feelings that don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Area X is a character unto itself, and boy oh boy, it shines more than the others. Beautiful and innocuous on the outside, but holds deep, dark secrets on the inside that are terrifying for human minds to fully comprehend. It’s host to both innocent and monstrous creatures who can be heard deep in the night. It’s also host to the Tower, which is a mystery unto itself.

The second book in the trilogy, Authority, focuses on Southern Reach, the enigmatic organization behind the expeditions. Not only is it very different from the first, it’s also much slower and even more ponderous, which I thought was impossible. We’re introduced to Control, who I felt was sloppy and had massive mommy issues. He almost reminded me of Archer, but not in a good way. The book mostly deals with office politics, showing how inept the organization truly is. It was refreshing to see mysterious behind-the-scenes organizations to be investigated, but damn, I wasn’t expecting this…

The book is slow as molasses and hosts only a few moments of true terror. Writing about any of them would be spoilers, so go ahead and read the book. Sadly, you’ll have to deal with a lot of unpleasantness before you can get to these fantastic scenes.

Acceptance, the final book in the trilogy, is easily much better. Much better pacing and characterization await. So does Area X in all its glory. The mystery unfolds and reveals its guts to only leave you asking for more. However, it doesn’t really expand much on the lore built in the last two books. It’s content staying where it is, instead raising even more questions that won’t be answered.

Most people compare the Southern Reach trilogy with Lovecraftian horror. See, the thing about horror isn’t really fear or anxiety, but a terrible dislike or repugnance towards something. There’s only one thing that was truly scary in these three books, and that too was revealed to be pathetic in a later act. Yes, the series doesn’t really have anything horrifying, or at least I didn’t feel that way, it does capture a sense of terribleness towards Area X and its denizens, especially those revealed in the last book. You feel disgusted by the organism and how it works, not truly terrified by its powers. Like Lovecraft, VanderMeer captures the essence of cosmic horror quite well, showing off how alien aliens can be. But sadly, like Lovecraft, his creations are dragged down by pacing and language.

Overall, if you’re feeling patient and up for a somewhat slow walk through nature, I recommend this trilogy. If you’re looking for fast action, skip. ( )
  bdgamer | Sep 10, 2021 |
So that's it? That's all we get?

I wish I had known. I wouldn't have wasted my time.

With this frustrating final book in the trilogy, I alternated between anger (because VanderMeer continued to stuff the pages with useless, time-wasting back stories), and annoyance (because the story wasn't going anywhere for the most part), with frequent side-trips into unadulterated boredom. There were large swaths of narrative that my eyes slid over but my brain couldn't get the gumption up to care about.

I'm entirely sick of novels that are trumpeted as the next evolution in horror, or the logical offspring to this author or that author...novels where the author has some talent (and VanderMeer does, when he tries), and some imagination (as VanderMeer also does), but, through the course of the story, not only does NOT bring it home, but steadfastly refuses to, instead choosing to deepen the mystery instead of attempting to clear the cobwebs.

Let me be clear: When you finish this novel, you will have gained very few answers to all the questions set up in the first two novels. But you will be treated to pages and pages and pages and pages of backstory, of telling versus showing, of annoying second-person point of view, and not much else.

I'm actually a fairly willing reader. I understand that there's times when an author wants to scatter clues and let the reader figure some stuff out. I'm a fan of that. It makes the reader feel like they're part of the story. But when you drop a single, ambiguous clue about once every hundred pages? No.

If you want to be left scratching your head, knowing far more about the characters than is needed, and knowing far less about the mysteries of Area X than you wanted, go ahead, read the books. But if you want a satisfying conclusion to a story, seriously, go read something else. This is not the trilogy you're looking for. ( )
  TobinElliott | Sep 3, 2021 |
The Southern Reach, the organization responsible for studying and overseeing the mysterious Area X, is falling apart. In his time since taking over the outpost, Control has stumbled across more than a handful of secrets within the organization but is nowhere near close to understanding Area X and what makes it tick. The conspiracies run deep and the paranoia is starting to run even deeper. There's only one option let: to go into Area X and find out what lies on the far island not visited by any previous expeditions. There's no guarantee the answers lie there, but it's the only shot left.

What a climactic conclusion to a trilogy. Things have built to quite a head here, leaving the characters and readers not really knowing where to turn or how to find the answers that they seek. And VanderMeer isn't just going to hand those answers over, either. Be prepared to have assumptions challenged and to go on not really knowing the answers to all of the questions you might have. If you want everything wrapped up in a nice little bow, you'll probably be disappointed. But if that's not a requirement for you as a reader, you will be in for quite a treat. ( )
  crtsjffrsn | Aug 27, 2021 |
I don't like loose ends and unexplained stuff. Ultimately, you are left with no answers as to what this was all about. ( )
  SocProf9740 | Jul 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 108 (next | show all)
[T]he real accomplishment of these books lies less in their well-designed plots than in VanderMeer’s incredibly evocative, naturalist eye....

At its best, VanderMeer’s language is precise, metaphorical but rigorous, and as fertile as good loam. More than mere atmosphere, the rich natural details are the trilogy’s most powerful technique — and, in some ways, its point....

With Area X, VanderMeer has created an immersive and wonderfully realized world; I wouldn’t be surprised if he revisits it. If so, I’ll happily sign up for the next expedition.
added by zhejw | editNew York Times, Scott Hutchins (Sep 12, 2014)
One peculiar satisfaction of being a reader is seeing an author you have followed for a long time finally break into the big time. VanderMeer has been a favourite among aficionados of New Weird fiction for more than a decade, exploring his fascinations with fungi, subterranean spaces and decay across half a dozen books. But with his Southern Reach trilogy – Annihilation, Authority and Acceptance, all released in 2014 – he has finally hit the bestseller lists. And with good reason. This trilogy is a modern mycological masterpiece.

Finding a way satisfactorily to pay off so much mysteriously tense apprehension is no small challenge for a writer – and VanderMeer manages to avoid banality and opacity both, and generates some real emotional charge while he's about it.
added by zhejw | editThe Guardian, Adam Roberts (Aug 27, 2014)

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jeff VanderMeerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Aaltonen, EinariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blomeyer, MarionCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellner, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCormick, CarolynNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyquist, EricCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pinchot, BronsonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sands, XeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Just out of reach, just beyond you: the rush and froth of the surf, the sharp smell of the sea, the crisscrossing shape of the gulls, their sudden, jarring cries.
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It is winter in Area X. A new team embarks across the border on a mission to find a member of a previous expedition who may have been left behind. As they press deeper into the unknown--navigating new terrain and new challenges--the threat to the outside world becomes only more daunting. In the final installment of the Southern Reach Trilogy, the mysteries of Area X may have been solved, but their consequences and implications are no less profound--or terrifying.

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Average: (3.58)
1 16
1.5 2
2 49
2.5 14
3 174
3.5 50
4 240
4.5 17
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