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94 Reviews
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disjointed and disconcerting: an intriguing first episode
Unsettling and atmospheric, Annihilation sets a mysterious scene for the Southern Reach trilogy. It’s a sparse, short but self-contained story set in the near future, about one expedition into a quarantined zone where something… ‘other’ has established itself. All previous investigations have ended badly. Things don’t exactly go swimmingly...
Published 13 months ago by Rowena Hoseason

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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where lies the strangling fruit
Jeff Vandermeer has always specialized in "weird," often stories centering on fantasy cities and/or steampunk. He's a chameleon who can shift into whatever genre he slips into.

And yet, I was still mildly surprised when I heard that he was writing a trilogy of science fiction books. Sci-fi has less scope for the weird. But Vandermeer brings his own...
Published 14 months ago by E. A Solinas


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4.0 out of 5 stars A captivating madness, 13 Oct. 2014
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Ashvajit (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars A really interesting scifi novel. I was impressed by ..., 6 Nov. 2014
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Bookloverkaty - See all my reviews
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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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3.0 out of 5 stars good start, 9 Jan. 2015
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Good start to the trilogy, hopefully it improves with book two. Will be interesting to see how the story develops on the other side on the border.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting, 25 Mar. 2014
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This is an idea, more than a novel. The characters are deliberately vague, one of the faults I feel. I didn't engage with them and so by the end of the book I didn't care what happened to the characters. The setting is otherworldly, and odd enough to make me want to read the next book. The whole thing had a sort of bad dream quality to it that lefts scratching my head a few times. Is it worth reading? Yes. But just.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Expedition to area X, 12 Mar. 2014
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Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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A science fiction novel. First in a trilogy. Like science fiction novels of old it runs for less than two hundred pages - o be exact, one hundred and ninety five - and is divided into five long chapters.

Which are split into sub sections easily distinguishable by marks.

Set on Earth, it involves an area of land known as Area X. Which has been cut off from the rest of the world for three decades, and in which nobody lives anymore. Because something strange has happened there.

An agency called the Southern reach has been sending expeditions in. All of which have come to grief. At their own hands or by other means.

This is the journal kept by a lady biologist. A member of the twelfth expedition.

And it's the story of what she finds...

It's a book that takes a little getting used to, as it does throw you into the action from the word go and fills in a few details in due course. The main character, nor any of the other members of her expedition, are ever named. And since it's all seen through her eyes and written down as such, you are at the mercy of her perceptions.

Some of which never seem quite as strange as you might expect from the off, so initially it's a bit hard to see where things are going. Or why other characters do what they do.

But then hints of bigger agendas emerge and start to intrigue. And the book does start to become interesting as it develops a bit of narrative drive.

All the journal is interspersed with flashbacks to earlier stages in the biologists life as she describes some things about her past. And her marriage. These portions are very good and feel very realistic.

The book as a whole is pretty readable and pages turn nicely. It does provide some answers by the end, but leaves a lot left hanging for book two.

On the basis of which, I am inclined to have a look at that. This isn't classic writing, but it's a short, good and decent read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something rich and strange, 3 Jan. 2014
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Sensible Cat (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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The premise of this book is common enough in science fiction. An expedition has entered a wilderness area that has swallowed up all previous attempts to penetrate it, in mysterious circumstances. The area happens to be on Earth - as far as we can tell - nothing is guaranteed. It is also profoundly alien - whether it just feels alien or it's been colonised by an extraterrestrial life form is not clear at the beginning of the book. Possibly, this is one of the story's most haunting and disturbing qualities. Nobody is quite sure why Area X feels so unnerving; it just does. We are into uncanny valley territory here. Everything - the apparently dead trees, the tower that shouldn't be there, the animal howls in the night - could have a logical, Earthbound explanation. But the chances are, it doesn't.

What ensues is a masterclass in atmospheric tension building, memorable imagery and unreliable narration. It's the information withheld that is most intriguing. Why have the expedition members been trained separately and hypnotised to get them across the border? Why are none of them ever named? An atmosphere of mutual distrust pervades the narrative from the very first page, keeping us perpetually on edge. It's a neat portrait of toxic group dynamics as alliances shift and reform, given an additional twist that the narrator is almost pathologically introverted, unable to sustain even a satisfactory relationship with her own husband. Why has such a psychologically fragile individual been allowed on such a sensitive mission? We don't find out.

What we do find out, very early in the narrative, and significantly, is that the narrator is most at home studying terrestrial ecosystems. In fact, she does so obsessively, using them to retreat from normal human interactions and even to settle in remote, underpopulated parts of the planet. If you've ever watched a Life On Earth video and thought, "With species like that already on the earth, who needs aliens?" this book is for you. You could reasonably call it a study in alienation. I won't spoil it by telling you what eventually turns out to be living in Area X, but it will certainly give you a new angle on some of the strange and lonely corners of our own world, and encourage you to look at them in a new light.

Oh, and it might well scare the pants off you as well. It certainly had that effect on me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, 30 Sept. 2014
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A well written story with a great twist
Looking forward to reading the other two to see where it takes me
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5.0 out of 5 stars He says they are very good books., 16 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy) (Hardcover)
I brought the trilogy for my partner & he couldn't put them down. He says they are very good books.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A wasted opportunity, 9 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy) (Hardcover)
This is the first book by VanderMeer I have read, and purchased it on the advice of a book seller who described it as 'lovecraftian'. It isn't. The prose style is clunky, with awkward repetition of phrases that become annoying as the book goes on. I thought it might be a translation in to english, but apparently not.

The story goes along at a slow pace, not much happens, but it is engaging and I found myself intrigued by the ideas. As a one off kindle purchase at 99p I would give it 4 stars, but at £10 it barely rates 3 stars. I am certainly not going to bother with the other two books in the trilogy.

There is much better weird fiction available. 'Red Phone Box' by Warren Ellis et al is a great read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstood masterpiece, 29 May 2014
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This review is from: Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy) (Hardcover)
I loved this book and am currently reading the second part ("Authority") of this trilogy.
Those who have given it bad reviews are completly missing the point. The strange, disjointed, dreamlike quality of the story is precicely what makes it such a great read.
It's the first part of a trilogy and some answers are to be found in part two, but still more questions are raised. I don't think anybody can judge the story before all three novels are available.
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Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy)
Annihilation (The Southern Reach Trilogy) by Jeff VanderMeer (Hardcover - 27 Feb. 2014)
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