Book Review: Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer

4 Stars

This is the first in a trilogy being released rapid fire-style this year. (For more on this new trend, see this post.) This is yet another book that I’ve had to ruminate in for a bit before deciding exactly what I thought of it. What is going on with my TBR list this year that this keeps happening to me?

Anyway, the premise here is that there’s a wild area (nature takes over civilization kind of thing) on Earth (I assume) called Area X that a mysterious company keeps sending expeditions to. The expeditions are to explore and record their observations, take samples, etc. Teams of scientists, mostly. This book picks up with the 12th expedition. The problem is, all the other expeditions–in one way or another–never came back, including the husband of the biologist (who is our POV).


The biologist finds out pretty quick that the company who sent her kept some things from the group. What happened to her husband here (and all the other expeditions, for that matter)? What is the mysterious tower? What’s in the infamous lighthouse? What part does hypnosis play in their situation? Why does some of the wildlife look somewhat…human?

The writing style is a bit different, since the entire book is supposed to be the biologist’s recordings in her journal. It comes of more scientific and straightforward than what I’m used to. But that’s fine, because it’s a journal (though not written in diary entries, but chapters; no Dracula kind of stuff here). The result of this choice is a kind of distance from the characters, including the biologist. It gives the book an overall sense of the surreal, and leaves you wondering if this narrator is actually reliable.

I came out of this book with more questions than answers, which is why I’ll be moving on to the second book in the trilogy (and why they decided to release it all this year).  I recommend giving this one a go, simply for the fact that it should only take you a couple hours to finish. If you don’t like it, there’s not that much time wasted.



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