Genre: Fantasy/ Thriller
“Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner I shall bring forth the seeds of the dead”
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilisation. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In the first volume of the Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition. The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader, and our narrator, the biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
Not in a long time have I felt so utterly consumed by a book. A fact that is especially impressive when you consider it’s relatively short 195 pages. The atmosphere Vandermeer creates draws you in immediately, the world of Area X turns the reader into a moth pulled swiftly into its flame. I read it while on holiday and as soon as I finished was running around the caravan park commanding people to read it and understand its brilliance.
“I felt as If I could do anything as long as I did not mind being watched”
The Biologist introduces us to a mysterious land, untouched by civilisation for decades, and devoid of any humanoid lifeforms; but is that the truth? We follow our narrator as she discovers that the information she’s been given my not be accurate, and wonders just what this place is that she’s been sent to.
Our narrator is flawed. As all the best characters are, and her introverted and highly observational nature makes her the perfect person to tell the happenings and discoveries of the Twelfth expedition. The book is written in a jornal format, which works brilliantly to build tension as you are reading. Throughout the book you have major ‘dont-go-around-that-corner’ feels.
If the book was in another volunteers perspective who’s career wasn’t looking beyond things people normally see, I’m sure there wouldn’t be nearly as much exquisite detail. Though, considering how fascinating the book is, I would happily have read the book from each characters perspective.
“Can you really imagine what it was like in those first moments, peering down into that dark space and seeing that? Perhaps you can. Perhaps you’re staring at it right now.”
The prose throughout the book is perfectly descriptive and filled with the kind of Stephen King esque bone chilling quotes that you keep with you for a while. The memory of the book itself weighs like a heavy breath on my chest, one that I still feel when I glance at it on the shelf.
I read Annihilation in one sitting, completely unable and unwilling to put it down. I can’t accurately express just how much I felt effected by this book other than to say you are surely missing out should you decide not to read it! The urge to discover the mystery will ensure you race through the book and the spine tingling chill you receive from the events that occur will leave you making sure you door is locked at night! Seriously, read it. Read it now.
“There shall be in the planting in the shadows a grace and a mercy that shall bloom dark flowers, and their teeth shall devour and sustain and herald the passage of an age”