Review: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Title Annihilation
Author Jeff VanderMeer
Series Southern Reach #1
Genre SciFi, Aliens
Format Kindle Edition
Page Length 209
Publication Date 4 Feb 2014
Publisher Fourth Estate
Read Date Mar 2018
Recommended Yes

For thirty years, Area X, monitored by the secret agency known as the Southern Reach, has remained mysterious and remote behind its intangible border– an environmental disaster zone, though to all appearances an abundant wilderness. Eleven expeditions have been sent in to investigate; even for those that have made it out alive, there have been terrible consequences.

‘Annihilation’ is the story of the twelfth expedition and is told by its nameless biologist. Introverted but highly intelligent, the biologist brings her own secrets with her. She is accompanied by a psychologist, an anthropologist and a surveyor, their stated mission: to chart the land, take samples and expand the Southern Reach’s understanding of Area X.

But they soon find out that they are being manipulated by forces both strange and all too familiar. An unmapped tunnel is not as it first appears. An inexplicable moaning calls in the distance at dusk. And while each member of the expedition has surrendered to the authority of the Southern Reach, the power of Area X is far more difficult to resist.

I picked this up after watching the Netflix movie of the same name. I loved the movie (you should deffo watch it) and decided I needed more. There are a number of differences between the movie and the book, as is to be expected, and I might do a comparison post soon.

This is a really good science fiction novel. This was the first I had read anything from this author. VanderMeer is somewhat of an established modern day powerhouse in the SciFi world and it is easy to see why. The balance between fact giving, plot driving narrative mixed with descriptive, thought provoking scenes kept me interested throughout.

I really like how this challenges the normal alien invades to take over everything by destroying all other life forms! Oh my god run for your lives! cliche. This is a much more scarier alien in my ever so humble opinion. This alien won’t shoot you with a laser and vaporise you. It ain’t after earth’s gold or water or diamonds. It hasn’t come here with a fleet of interdimensional spacecrafts. It simply wants to live. It just so happens that it landed on earth. The way it lives is to evolve by copying aspects of other life and developing with it’s new knowledge. It also changes the environment around it, hence, we have the Shimmer. No, not the Women’s Professional Wrestling promotion, but you should check them out too because they are wonderful. More of a changed environmental biome. Problem is, if you are in the Shimmer, it will change you too, for the shits and giggles. And the Shimmer is growing in size, rapidly. Imagine some ominous music played here because that would help with the dramatic effect I was going for. K thnx luv u.

The protag is wonderful. She is super savvy and full of courage but in a very realistic way. She has a couple of flaws, which I always like in a protag. I found the supporting characters to be less interesting if I’m honest, and at times I lost track of who was who. I think one of the risks of having a band of folk on a quest is that the supporting characters can meld together if not defined enough. I felt this fell into that trap. But it didn’t take away too much. Also, I was not too keen on the hypnotism and how that works. It just felt a little too unbelievable at times.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this. I’m glad I picked it up. I will probably read book 2 and 3 of the series if I get chance (it might be an audiobook situation) because I am interested to see where the story goes. There are a number of unanswered questions I would like answering. This is a solid Sci Fi novel that stays true to what we love about the genre, whilst giving us something a little new and refreshing.

Anyway, I’m off to build a tower under the ground because that makes perfect sense. Until next time, Peace and Love!

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  1. I did not realize the film was on Netflix already! I will have to add it to my queue. I am really stoked that this delivered for you. I read his book Borne and loved it! I was instantly hooked on his writing and world building. It sounds like he really delivers with this one. Stellar review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am always a bit hesitant with scifi because I never give myself enough credit with being able to understand this genre 😀 It sounds like great read though and I am thinking of very much checking out the film! If I enjoy the film, who knows, I might have to read the book, too 🙂

    PS! Underground towers always make me think of this film… Equilibrium, I think? If memory serves right it had this into the ground/deep-reaching ‘establishment’… always creeps me out…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are deffo smart enough for Sci Fi! I haven’t seen Equilibrium. The tower in this is really a tunnel, but the protag refers to it as a tower and not a tunnel. She makes a big deal of this and I’m sure there is some kind of symbolism here that I am missing! XD If you do watch the film, give me a shout and we can discuss the ending. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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