Mar 03 2018

Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer

The more I think back on it, the lovelier this novel grows in my mind. The atmosphere and tone are unsettling and consistently oppressive: I kept thinking how Lovecraftian it was, and yet so much better for not being rife with horrible stereotypes. Bad shit happens early to our four explorers who’ve been sent into Area X, the mysterious region that many expeditions have tried and failed to examine, and things gets crazy in a way that is both horrifying and disturbingly lyrical, with shades of horror and sci-fi — general, psychological and ecological — washing over everything as relentlessly as the incoming tide.

Above all, however, this is a deeply affecting love story between an introvert and the man she lost and is, perhaps, still looking for. It’s the kind of book that had me running to get the sequel. It’s the kind of book that makes me more interested in watching the movie adaptation than otherwise (especially since, hello, that’s Queen Amidala getting it on with Poe Dameron!) I’ve heard that the movie is quite different from the book but I’m willing to forgive it that because of all the wealth the book has to offer, tho I’ll likely be annoyed more by any changes to The Biologist’s relationship with her husband than to any changes to the constantly mutable Area X and whatever happens there.

Oh, and the only weakness of this book was the exceedingly wooden dialog. Granted, Annihilation takes the form of a journal written by The Biologist, who often seems a little deaf to the nuances of human interactions, so that’s forgivable once you figure that out, tho is quite jarring in the early stages of reading the novel. Regardless, I’m looking forward to experiencing more of the series, books, movie and all.

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