Area 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.
A WRITER’S SURREAL JOURNEY
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.
THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN’T STOP TALKING
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.
CAN’T GOOGLE IT
Annihilation 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.