Annhilation - Jeff VanderMeer

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Mystery
Synopsis: 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. 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.


Review: I seem to have had a lot more patience with this book than other readers have. While it is definitely flawed, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The only way I can think to explain how I felt reading is it this: I was dumped into this fantastic, possibly otherworldly environment named Area X which is genuinely fascinating, and forced to wear blinkers while observing it. The blinkers, in the story, are the immensely dull narrator. I constantly felt like if the narrative could just break free of her inanity that there is actually an amazing world to be explored.

That said, I didn't find the retrospective insights into the narrator's life as dull as some reviews have described them, but they were very long-winded. For the most part, she recounts her past experiences in order to relate them to her experience of Area X, but the reality is she could really shorten these reflections and still make an adequate comparison. There was simply no heart in the narrator or in her memories of her husband, nothing for the reader to connect with emotionally. I frequently pictured her just stopping dead in Area X, with a glazed look in her eyes, while she spent fifteen minutes reminiscing about tadpoles, before continuing on her merry way.

There's definitely a lot of creativity in this book, and right up to the very end I was absolutely enthralled by Area X and wanting to know its secrets. Because of this, I'm going to chance reading the other two books.

All in all, I can see why this book gets mixed reviews, but for some people - myself included - sheer fascination with Area X is enough to overlook the flaws.

Rating: 3/5 

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