Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Review: Annihilation: A Novel

Annihilation: A Novel
Annihilation: A Novel by Jeff VanderMeer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Psychological thriller (Per publisher); Lovecraftian fiction (per me)
Reading Level: Adult
Recommended for: Fans of Lovecraftian stories, surreal or bizarro fiction
Book Available: February 4, 2014 in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook formats
Trigger Warnings: killing, mind control, murder, attempted murder

My Thoughts: An early reader of this book described it as, “A little Kubrick, a lot Lovecraft...” and who could resist that juicy plum? I'm not sure what genre to put this in, however. While it is dark fantasy, it is also very gritty and “real” in many places. Any elements of magical realism are subtle and maybe the result of an unreliable narrator. Or maybe not. Maybe these things really are happening. The problem is that everything seems almost dream-like in many places.

The Lovecraft comes about through the slow, creeping weirdness that gradually ramps up into more and more weirdness as the story continues. The plot is very surreal in many places. If a person isn't a fan of Lovecraftian fiction and/or bizarro or surreality, then they probably will not enjoy this story. However, if you take the time to focus and follow along, you will find yourself in a very interesting place. I, for one, will definitely be watching for the rest of this trilogy, to find out what happens, because it's just such a cool idea. I can't give you any details about the story as it would be very easily spoiled. But if you like Lovecraftian, surreal or bizarro fiction, then check this book out.

Series Information: The Southern Reach Trilogy
Book 1: Annihilation, available February 4, 2014
Book 2: Authority, available June, 2014
Book 3: Acceptance, available September, 2014

Disclosure: I received a paperback ARC from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Synopsis: Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died 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 months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

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