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on 6 March 2015
You know those sci fi movies where a group of adventurers head off in space only to find an intriguing, yet grotesquely dangerous, life form and the science officer is hell bent on protecting it, though it is keen to destroy them?

This isn’t really like that but in some ways it shares similar characteristics. We do have a group of adventurers, all women, heading off on an expedition of Area X, a section of the continent that has been cut off for generations. They do encounter life forms that may prove dangerous. The science officer, in this instance a Biologist, is enthralled and wants to know more. That’s where the similarities end.

Annihilation proves to be quite the introspective journey for our Biologist, the narrator. We learn every detail of what she sees and experiences with numerous remembrances of earlier times. There is much that is mysterious in this book. The further she goes, the deeper the mystery becomes and she is desperate to unravel it. The Biologist is intelligent, and even likeable, and puts her knowledge of natural sciences to good use. She is clearly a survivor... but is that a good thing?

I don’t want to give anything away so I will stop here. I did enjoy this novel and look forward to reading the follow up book, Authority.

If you like sci fi, and exploring in the great unknown, this will be right up your street.
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on 10 March 2017
This was a hard one to rate for me.

It would have been a solid 4 stars if the ending had of been better.
With more explanation and finality.

I understand that there are more books in this series and the author may not want to explain things in more detail until later, but I was just left wanting so much more.
I needed to know more!

The first 3/4 of the book was so strong.
It was mysterious, dark, scary, confusing (in a good way) and all terribly interesting!
Yet it all seemed to just fizzle out towards the end with a lot of waffle and not much actual explaination.
Lots of big words strung together in a beautiful way masquerading as plot.

I am not fooled you tricksy book!

And the sections that focused on our main characters marriage were just dull.
Less of that please!

I am as yet unsure about whether or not to carry on with this series...
I desperately want to know the secrets of Area X, but I don't think I can cope if book two has the same amount of explanation as this first instalment.
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on 2 February 2015
Not long after I started this book the thought entered my head that this somehow reminded me of that great work, "Solaris". We puny humans come face to face with something vast and incomprehensible, alien and powerful. We try to understand it with that pathetic faith we have in rationalism and scientific investigation as it also explores us, sending tendrils of curiosity into our cavernous minds, mining all.
Then another thought came into my mind; this is like that other great work, "Roadside Picnic" where something truly alien and dangerous has been inserted, deliberately or accidentally, into our world. Pitfalls and grave dangers are scattered amongst the seemingly familiar, ready to transform us and enslave us at any thoughtless moment. We stumble through a surreality, like a dream that takes on menacing overtones.
And now, having finished, I realise this is both those books and neither of them. On my bookshelf it will take its place alongside both, another vision of the truly unknown and mysterious. A wonderful piece of writing that is at once gentle and beautiful whilst fascinatingly deadly.
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on 20 March 2014
The first in a trilogy to be released across this year, Annihilation is a weird and detached story about a team of scientists exploring an 'environmental disaster' zone called Area X. The novel makes no moves to actually explain the origins or even specifics about Area X. The only know that previous expeditions have been sent and disappeared or returned and died.
What is striking about this novel is that none of the expedition crew have names. They are simply the Biologist, the Psychologist etc.
This adds to the strange feel about the book. Its a very Lovecraftian story, which genuinely unnerves and creeps out with its spooky goings-on.
Its written in a very straightforward and clear manner which I enjoyed, as its not too simple and cloying but doesn't try too hard to be ultra-sophisticated. It can be enjoyed by adults and YA audiences.
If you're into weird or supernatural books then I do recommend this, it definitely leaves you wanting more. It gets four stars because its not that long and I feel that if the all the books in the tril are this length, it could have been published as one volume.
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on 16 January 2018
Vivid and almost hypnotic - fittingly, with hypnotism factoring as a core theme to the story. The lack of names and the almost robotic qualities to the characters can be distracting, and might distance the reader even, but they are decisions which work together to create a kind of confusion which pumps energy through the narrative like blood through an artery. Such uncanniness is complemented by scattered descriptions which seem to trip over themselves, hurriedly seeking to make sense of the narrator's environment, and in turn lead her to reconsider her formative years which nurtured her passion in biology. For a while I was wondering where the story was going, as remaining pages diminished quickly and in some ways the plot seemed in no hurry to progress; however, the completed account becomes a neat package, attaining what could be described as a poetic form when viewed in its entirety. I'm intrigued to see what Jeff Vandermeer accomplishes with this trilogy, and with no knowledge of the sequels, would at the very least recommend Annihilation as an engaging short read in its standalone volume.
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on 13 February 2017
There was something about this book that I found really compelling, I just had to keep reading to find out what was going on. From that perspective it's a great read, the mystery is all consuming and the feeling throughout is ominous, you can just feel the "not rightness" of Area X coming straight off the page. The Biologist, whose journal narrates the story, is another mystery within Area X, she has no name and you only get the details she decides to give you, this really adds to the uncertainty of the facts you are presented with, I ended up questioning everything, it's a very clever way to add to the atmosphere of the story.

What I am frustrated about now I've finished is the lack of resolution, I still have no clue what Area X is and what happened there, is there a creature? Is The Biologist just mad? Is this all some big government conspiracy? Who are the Southern Reach? I've been left with more questions than answers and I hate when a book does that to me! I guess I'll just have to read the next one to find out ...
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on 12 August 2017
This book is beautifully designed. It looks great. Unfortunately I am struggling to say anything else good about it. Oh.... actually..... it's less than 200 pages long. That was good. That at least explains why such a shortish book (assuming vol 2 and 3 are of similar length) wasn't just published as a single volume. Well, 200 pages of this I can just manage..... I don't remember the last book I gave up on but if this had been 600 pages.... I really could not have finished it.

Four women are sent on an expedition to Area X. For some reason it's difficult or dangerous to get there. Previous expeditions have not come back or have returned 'damaged'. The narrator is a member of the expedition. Various things happen. None of them are explained. We learn quite a lot about her, but we don't really care. She is rather anonymous. Most of what happens is rather weird. Worse, the weirdness seems to have no reason, no point. It is weirdness for the sake of weirdness. Sorry, but my time spent reading this was wasted.
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on 20 October 2016
I chose this book because it was described as "if J.J.Abrams and Margaret Attwood wrote a book together..." from that I was sold!

It did read a little like Oryx and Crake and it did have many similarities to the TV show Lost. I found that I was very drawn into the narrative even though part of the style I did not enjoy - the characters were purposefully vague. The female characters were a little too stereotypically masculine but also highly interesting.
It was a good sci-fi read and I finished it in a few days (despite long days at work). I am not frantically purchasing the next one as I can bear not knowing what happens next but I would certainly give the second book a try sometime.
It was a very easy and fast read and despite not loving it 100% I did thoroughly enjoy it.
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on 18 December 2017
Reads like the kind of thing I'd have written when I was 12. The Author was obviously trying to copy Lost, but where that TV program made up for its lack of plot with some attempt at characterisation, this book fails to do even that. The characters, such as they are, are laughably thin. Each is only described by their job title e.g. The Biologist, and its painfully obvious that the Author has absolutely no knowledge of biology, psychology etc. It's not intellectual, original or even all that weird. Certainly doesn't make me want to read the other books. Even makes me less likely to watch the movie. One star for effort (just writing a book is more than I've done after all) and one start for it being mercifully short.
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on 16 March 2018
I watched the movie and instantly bought the book. Boy, it did not disappoint! it's imaginative, mysterious and eerily beautiful.
I understand, why people, who like things spelled out for them, could find this book unsatisfying. It does not provide answers, only more questions. You never find out what is Area X, what's really happening there or what had started it. But this is the point! The narrative is an account of the biologist's experiences. We know only as much as she does, and she doesn't find answers. She can only speculate and come up with theories. And I loved it, as it forces us to re-live her journey and leaves a lot to the reader's imagination.
I am really looking forward to reading the next installment !
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