I realize I’m late to the bandwagon with this book, but I began Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer back in Febuary and read roughly 40 pages and didn’t come back to it until this past month. I picked it up again and I could not put it down! There is something so subversive beneath the surface and Vandermeer’s concise, but mysterious prose often leaves the reader wanting to know more, but only ends up becoming more confusing and unbelievable.
We follow a group of women who go out into what we come to find out as Area X. Each of the women is not named and are only differentiated by their roles. We come to the story where there is just a psychologist, surveyor, archeologist, and our main character, the biologist. The book proceeds as they come to a “tower” that holds curious spores and mysterious writing that the biologist only seems to understand at first.
Their mission is to map the mysterious region, even knowing that each previous expedition before them as ended up in either untimely deaths, paranoia, betrayal, amnesia, or just straight up disappearance. The group comes upon more lifeforms in the “tower” that surpass anything they have come across previously and the biologist begins to question everything she has ever known…
This book made me immediately request the second, Authority, which I know is very different from what I’ve heard, but there are so many things that Vandermeer leaves open and you just have to know more. Plus, I became weirdly attached to the biologist, despite all the strange things that happen to her over the course of the story. We find out more about her husband, who went on the expedition before hers and came back a shadow of his former self.
To me, the real testament of this book is just how strange it is. The eco-terror of Area X is especially haunting and the centering on individuals experience with attempting to comprehend the terrible, macabre, and incomprehensible is always a kind of unsettling experience. The book itself is rather slim(around 200 pages) so it makes for a quick, but deep read. I’m still thinking about the implications of what happens when nature reclaims what was taken from it.
This is a chilling but also tension-filled novel. It took me some time to get into it, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. A great read for sci-fi lovers and even Lovecraft enthusiasts.