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3.9 out of 5 stars
Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy)
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on 29 April 2014
One of the most imaginative and thought provoking authors today. Area x is a profoundly disturbing strangely calming but malign presence running through this book. Some of the creations such as the mysterious writer in the underground tower are the stuff of real genius and are truly unsettling.I already look forward to the final two instalments due this year. If you enjoyed Finch or any other of the Ambergris novels you will not be disappointed.
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on 15 March 2014
This reads like a cross between HP Lovecraft and Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake books. Very atmospheric&creepy. Scarey & depressing if you worry at all about how we're treating the environment!
That said it, it takes some time to start to feel involved with the characters, perhaps because they are not named as individuals but by their job titles and it's only really possible to identify with the narrator. I think this distancing effect may be intentional on the part of the author and I look forward to understanding more when the next volume comes out in May.
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Annihilation is part one of a 3 part story. All parts will be released in 2014 and if part one is indicative of the story as a whole, it will be a extraordinarily worthwhile journey ride the fringes of.

This is my first experience of Jeff VanderMeer's writing style and it felt very comfortable for me. I would categorize it as fitting nicely between Arthur C.Clarke's Rendezvous at Rama and HP Lovecraft's Shadow over Innsmouth. The tension is viscous, the characters relatable and the vivid reality of the world the author creates is absolutely believable.
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on 8 March 2014
My only gripe with this system of book writing is that I shall now have to wait for the next installment.
I think this saga has promise and providing it doesn't go down silly paths and off too hard to swallow tangents should be very rewarding.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 February 2014
orces unknown have severed Area X from the rest of the land, removing its human life, replacing it with jungle. Eleven expeditions have ventured into Area X, all of which have ended in disaster and violence. Annihilation follows the twelfth into the unknown. The team comprises four women - the Psychologist (the leader), the Anthropologist, the Surveyor and the Biologist (our narrator). There was a fifth but the Linguist had turned back at the last minute. She was the wise one.

While heading towards the known - a lighthouse on the abandoned shore - the four come across the unknown - an uncharted tunnel or, as our Biologist prefers, an inverted tower. Both fascinated and repulsed, the Biologist feels its walls pulse with life, its organic surface etched by letters forming an endless sentence. From this moment, the expedition begins to lose its grip on what may or may not be real, further compromised by the mindgames played by its team members.

Annihilation is a short novel but it is packed full of atmosphere, mystery and dark wonders. As an introduction to the Southern Reach trilogy, it works perfectly, opening up to us this sinister, uncertain world, containing the unknown and the familiar, but all distorted and strange. Intensifying the mystery and mood is the fact that none of the characters are named. Also, the reliability of our narrator is a mystery in itself.

Annihilation is an engrossing, beautifully written and imagined read, often feeling as thick with atmosphere and foreboding as the reeds through which the Biologist struggles. At times it is very frightening and I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle of what might lie in the inverted tower as well as the significance of the lighthouse and its lost inhabitants. The descriptions of the environment are deliciously creepy. And what caused Area X in the first place and why have so many expeditions ended in inexplicable disaster?!

Alongside this story of the twelfth expedition are clues to the fate of the previous mission, an expedition that holds a special fascination for our Biologist. Many questions are raised about Area X, its explorers and the society that sends these expeditions in, one after another, and when Annihilation ends it left me desperate for Authority, the second part of the series. While I would have much preferred the story to have been self-contained in one large volume, at least there is the satisfaction of knowing that all three books are released in 2014. I can't wait.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2014
I wasn't sure whether I would enjoy this, because it's been described as "Lovecraftian", and I'm not particularly a fan of Lovecraft (or of horror in general, for that matter).

But I really did like this novel. I personally wouldn't classify it as "horror". It's a great blend of mystery/ suspense/ thriller/ science fiction, and the author does a fantastic job of making this strange world come alive in the reader's imagination with his vividly-drawn descriptions and beautifully-lyrical prose.

And if you *are* a big fan of Lovecraft, I think you will enjoy this story very much.

My main disappointment with this book was that it is so short; however, each of the next two novels in the series (Authority and Acceptance) are twice as long. So I expect to get a lot more satisfaction as the series progresses.

Yes, there are a lot of questions left unanswered in this volume -- but I do feel that this one still makes a complete story unto itself. I am looking forward to the release of the sequels -- and fortunately, I won't have to wait very long.
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on 13 October 2014
Despite my reluctance, I read this book in its entirety, feeling both stimulated, disturbed and profoundly dissatisfied, almost knowing that I would be left with a mystery that no words could explain - which perhaps, after all, was the intention of the author.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 5 August 2014
Area X is a verdant disaster zone being monitored by a secret agency known as the Southern Reach; the Twelfth expedition sees a group of scientists enter the quarantined area to take samples of the environment and to better understand why it is there. Soon enough the expedition takes a sinister turn as the scientists begin to uncover secrets about both Area X and the Southern Reach. It soon becomes clear that Area X isn't quite what it seems - it is a place home to unknown creatures and derelict structures once home to untold horrors.

Annihilation is a truly spooky book and VanderMeer crafts the tale perfectly. The remoteness of the expedition is palpable and the prose beautifully written. Reminiscent of House of Leaves, Annihilation is a creepily superb introduction to what promises to be an enthralling trio of tales.
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on 23 June 2015
I liked the idea of the storyline and it did initially grab my interest. However I felt it lost it's way and became difficult to follow, for me, and in the end an unsatisfactory read. Sorry but I would not recommend it.
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on 6 November 2014
A really interesting scifi novel. I was impressed by the imagination and scale of it. However I did find it quite confusing - I'm not sure you're really meant to understand it!
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