Annihilation – By Jeff Vandermeer

Goodreads Synopsis: Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third 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 weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

The 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, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—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.

Find on Goodreads and Book Depository.

I originally got this book for my partner because he wanted to read the book before seeing the movie. He ended up loving it so much not only did he request the rest of the series from the library but he demanded I read the book as soon as possible. And since I’d already been a fan of Vandermeer since I read his book Borne, it was an easy wish to compile with. 😀

Annihilation is a surprisingly short book, standing at 190 pages. Both my partner and I were able to read it over a couple days, both of us starting it in the evening and then sadly having to sleep at some point. The book follows a group of women who are investigating Area X. We don’t know their names, only their professional titles. The book is told from the point of view of the biologist who is writing down what she encounters in this mysterious area. The whole story takes place in a short amount of time, and things quickly go downhill for the group.

Surprisingly I actually saw the movie before I read the book, before I even realized it was a book. I remembered watching the movie and feeling like something was missing, especially at the end which I thought was a letdown (to say the least.) The book is of course, much much better. Despite being so short it sets you in a bizarre slowly unnerving world and as the tension mounts so does the unsettling nature of the story.

I really liked the main character from a writer’s point of view, because she’s really not that likable. She’s unreliable, dislikes her companions, and generally keeps to herself. I liked this because I feel like you don’t see well-written female characters like this very often and I apricated her uniqueness. I also enjoyed how she interacted with her environment. And let me tell you, the ending of the book is so much more satisfying than that bullshit ending in the movie.

Both my partner and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. My partner called this book the best piece of cosmic horror he’s read in years, so ya know you should probably read it as well. 😀 In the end I gave this book five stars.

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