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on 21 July 2017
I'm not quite sure how to review this one, I don't think I could even tell someone what happened in the book in a clear manner. Even though I have read it and understood all that I was reading i'm really not sure what happened!

The book is written from the perspective of one of a team going to explore a quarantined area. They will be the twelve party to be sent into Area X to document their thoughts and findings during the expedition. It soon becomes apparent that Area X is not what it seems. But it seems that no one can make sense of what is happening to the party. All they know is that something is going on in the tower/tunnel, and what is the drawer to the lighthouse? Will they find out before the group collapses?

I liked this book no wiser than when I started really. I think to get the full enjoyment from the book it is probably best to read the whole series back to back. I would hope that by carrying on the series you get more answers than you have at the end of this book. But leaving it here makes me sceptical of whether I will come back to the series or not.

It was written well, with good tension. Its one of those stories that you would find yourself craning your head round corners in a film to find out what is there before the director wants you to as you just want answers! Full of suspense but not a lot of loose ends get tied up if any.

If you liked the TV series Lost, I think this book is perfect for you.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 November 2014
This is an eerie, enticing and intelligent book that uses an SF structure, plot and idiom to probe questions about the nature of mysteries, and man’s relationship to the world we increasingly think we know, understand and, to some extent, control.

Like some other reviewers here, I was reminded of both HP Lovecraft for his evocations of the weird, grotesque and uncanny, and Solaris for its extension of the concept of sentient ‘beings’.

Other reviewers have discussed the plot: suffice it to say that this is tight and tense, but packs more thought into 200 pages than many novels of twice the size. Dare I say it, this is SF for those of us who don’t read SF.
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on 7 September 2017
I bought this book after learning that Alex Garland is directing a movie version - being a fan of his work, I thought I'd give it try.

This is a difficult book to review. Not because of spoilers, and maybe that's the point. I've seen a few comparisons to the TV show 'Lost', and I can see why. A mysterious land, an ambiguous ending, a story which seems to be always on the verge of but also always stopping short of giving you the answers you want. The writing style is also a little strange, no contractions, as far as I could see. But I found it utterly compelling. I'm not even sure why. Maybe it was just the writing style or the premise. There's an 'other worldly' quality to the whole thing. I also didn't mind the (relatively) ambiguous ending. The author gives you enough to come up with your own ideas and theories, without putting it all on a plate for you. I get that some might find the lack of answers frustrating or a cop-out (hence the Lost comparisons), but I really didn't, and I'm definitely going to read the sequel.
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on 11 April 2015
I don't know if there are many books like these out there, but I want to read them. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish.

We meet four women, only known by their titles; the biologist, the psychologist, the anthropologist and the surveyor, all on an expedition into Area X. They are expedition nr. 12 and they're there to figure out what's exactly going on or just not die (all the other expeditions have failed). I don't want to say anything else about the plot, because even though the plot has a timeline of about a week, so much happens and unravels at such a good pace that it's worth just not really knowing what's going to happen.

What really drew me to this book was the narrative, I love the clinical, biological approach to writing, how the world around us can be viewed in these cold hard facts and theories. It's really wonderful. What we're reading are the biologist's journal of her time in Area X and this very focused kind of writing makes for some very creepy passages. This books keeps you on your toes.
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on 6 September 2017
Started off well, middle section gathered pace and held you in suspense, the last chapter a let down. However in the context that this is a trilogy I am looking forward to the next installment eagerly. It would have been good if in the narrative did not just come from the biologist's perspective. Hopeful when I've read this trilogy it could be 4/5. . Looking forward to the film...
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on 26 May 2017
Enjoyable read- very different narrative style but this is part of the book's allure. Good character development and the writer keeps just enough back to maintain an air of mystery whilst still developing the story
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on 30 June 2017
A grrat start to a wonderfully unsettling series. I highly recommend picking up this trilogy.
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on 14 September 2017
Wonderful descriptive writing
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on 7 August 2017
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Annihilation is the first in a series of three science-fiction novels by Jeff VanderMeer, with the other two due to be published later this year. I'm glad there are two more books to come, because Annihilation is one of those novels that raises more questions than it answers - although it remains to be seen whether the next two books in the series actually offer any solutions or simply deepen the mystery.

Annihilation tells the story - in a sense - of a group of unnamed researchers entering Area X, a large stretch of coastal landscape rendered uninhabitable by 'the Event' some years previously. They have been recruited by Southern Reach, an agency that appears to monitor the border - if there really is one - between Area X and the rest of the world.

None of the expedition party knows what the Event was. None of them knows what it is about Area X that might be dangerous or why nobody can live there. They are led by 'the psychologist' who has trained them for the expedition and by whom they are constantly manipulated by hypnotic suggestion. Their equipment is inexplicably low-tech and their entry into Area X is something none of them can properly recall. They are known to one another only by their roles in the team - the biologist, the surveyor, the anthropologist and so on.

In short, everything in Area X is unknown, and as a result the group exists in a constant and debilitating state of unease and dread. There are vague hints on almost every page that something terrible, something sinister and watchful, lurks within the landscape, and yet nobody is ever quite sure what it might be. It's only a matter of days before the group begins to behave oddly, as if they are somehow absorbing the indefinable oddness of the environment. It's also clear that their perceptions of what they encounter vary considerably. A structure they discover is a 'tower' to our narrator but a 'tunnel' to the others. What is real and what isn't? And what does 'real' mean in Area X anyway?

There is a strong sense of Lovecraftian horror that runs throughout Annihilation, combined with a skilled, calculated matter-of-factness - the narrator is a biologist well known for her observant detachment - that reminds me of John Wyndham (high praise from me: Wyndham is probably my favourite science-fiction writer of all time).

It's fair to say that there are certainly moments when the narrative becomes more elaborate and descriptive, almost hallucinatory, as events take their psychological and physical toll on the biologist, but for me these are much less effective in building atmosphere than the subtler, more ambiguous allusions in the earlier chapters.
The nature of the story also means that character development is mostly secondary, and the biologist's expedition team mates are little more than an aid to driving the plot, but the biologist herself is, while clearly an unreliable and selective storyteller, reasonably well-drawn with enough back-story to induce me to care what happened to her.

If, like me, you enjoy books that question and confuse the reader, full of ambiguities and unspecified, unsettling suggestions that things are Just Not Quite Right, and you're open to the 'New Weird', Annihilation is definitely one for you.

The second novel in the trilogy, Authority, is due out in May.
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