Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer (2014)

annihilationArea X is a wild and mysterious land that has been walled off from the rest of civilization for decades. A team consisting of an anthropologist, a surveyor, a psychologist and a biologist cross the border to study the area and understand why all of the previous eleven missions failed. Immediately on their arrival the team realizes Area X is full of bizarre unnatural creatures and the land seems to be transforming into something familiar, yet also unrecognizable.

A few thoughts …


Little did I know this book would derail my Canadian Thanksgiving weekend reading plans. At 195 pages, I was able to read Annihilation in two days. The first in Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, the story was so taut with paranoia and WTF is going on? questions, I couldn’t pull myself away.


After finishing the book, I had to know more about the series. I found this fantastic Atlantic magazine article written by the author himself that provides the great backstory of how he was inspired to write the first book while suffering the aftermath of a root canal and losing sleep over a recent oil spill near his home in Florida. It also details the choatic period following the success of Annihilation and the author’s reckless decision to write the second and third book right away, so that the entire series could be released in the same year!



One of the interesting things about Annihilation is all of the characters are women. We don’t know their names or much about them (with the exception of the narrator), rather we get to know them by their actions during the course of the story. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a similar character set-up.


As she begins the mission, the narrator reveals how much she is an introvert and has been her whole life. She shares how being an introvert has influenced her career path and affected her marriage, and how she would rather interact with the trecherous and strange environment of Area X than the other women on her team. I found the way she faked-it-till-she-maked-it resonated with me because I’m introverted and like to operate under the radar as well. I don’t know if this is weird, but I compared myself to the narrator a lot.


snoopyAnnihilation is fast-paced and not predictable even when the author reveals what’s ahead early. I read the story holding my breath and feeling an awful dread for the characters. Each investigation to understand what was happening in Area X just led to more questions and confusion, and the inevitable realization that maybe all of it was beyond the human capacity to understand. And isn’t that what life is really like? What is the point of all of this? Nobody knows!

Authority, the second book, is up next and of course I’m dying to know where they go from here.

4 Stars


10 comments on “Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer (2014)

  1. Rebecca
    October 15, 2016

    I read this book recently and I’m also intrigued enough to pick up the next books. I really enjoyed it. It left an indelible impression.
    Rebecca @ The Portsmouth Review
    Follow me on Bloglovin’


    • ebookclassics
      October 20, 2016

      Even though the next book doesn’t pick-up where this last one left off, I would like to see how it how reveal more about the mysterious Area X. Look forward to hearing what you think about the next two books!


  2. Waiiiiit. Are those new covers or something (your image)? I haven’t read this (yet?) but I bought the 3-in-1 hardcover edition in the peak of my buy-all-the-post-apoc-fiction haha.


    • ebookclassics
      October 20, 2016

      The images are from the Atlantic article I linked to in the post. I really thought they had this cool, old school vibe. I don’t know if any physical print versions have those covers.


  3. Brian Joseph
    October 16, 2016

    I read the entire series a few months ago.

    I found this book to be fantastic. I enjoyed the following two also. I thought that they were very imaginative and well worth reading. With that I did not think that they were quite as a strong as this one.

    I agree with you as to the reasons that this was so good. I like the fact that all the characters in this book were women. As you alluded to it creates an interesting character dynamics. It is also creates a nice change of pace from just about every other story ever written.


    • ebookclassics
      October 20, 2016

      Oh, I’m going to have to find your reviews now. I’m not surprised to hear that the two other books weren’t as good. Jeff Vandermeer wrote them in a few short months on little sleep and during the chaos of his first book tour.

      A deeper exploration of the dynamic between the women would have been interesting, but I guess it wasn’t relevant to the plot. It occurred to me that the biologist’s husband probably could be considered a character. What do you think


  4. buriedinprint
    October 16, 2016

    Okay, okay…you’ve convinced me to pull out the book in the daytime to keep reading (cuz reading it at night was just too creepy)!


    • ebookclassics
      October 20, 2016

      It definitely is a creepy book. I look forward to reading your review!


  5. Naomi
    October 16, 2016

    This book has been on my radar for a while, but you’ve convinced me that I definitely want to read it. I didn’t realize that all the characters were women, and that the narrator considers herself an introvert – those two elements alone sound like a god reason to read the book!


  6. ebookclassics
    October 20, 2016

    The emphasis on introversion in relation to one’s environment really fascinated me. It made me think a lot about myself and how I interact (or don’t) interact with other people. I love to socialize, but solitude really suits my nature too.


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