The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

It is time for me to get off of my patootie and actually write up some of these books that I’ve been reading. At this point in time I am three trilogies and two novels behind, which doesn’t speak very well of my time management or my self discipline.

Regardless, here we go with trilogy the first, The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. This trilogy consists of three books (shocking, I know) – Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance. I believe throughout the trilogy the author was attempting to achieve a sense of eeriness, what with the patch of land somewhere unspecified in the U.S. being eaten up by something the military calls a tremendously bad ecological disaster but which is really a creepy sentient world that is checking us out.

There are boundaries. There are tunnels through to the heart of “Area X,” as it’s called. There are expeditions, many of them, and there’s the Southern Reach where something only known as Central but presented as something rather CIAish is running things. People disappear. Plants write enigmatic words on a tower that goes down into the earth. A lighthouse contains the left-behind journals of every single failed expedition (so all of them, really), and sometimes people come back from failed expeditions (the kind where everyone is presumed dead), but they aren’t quite themselves, and then they die horrific deaths of cancer. There are weird howling creatures, and of course time works differently there.

It’s supposed to be creepy. It’s supposed to be a horror/maybe-sci-fi thriller. It’s supposed to give you chills.

It didn’t.

I didn’t mind reading them. I didn’t feel particularly forced into finishing the trilogy just for the sake of finishing it, but I wasn’t deeply involved with the books either. The characterization was a bit flat. I didn’t really care much about what was happening, or to whom. There were some good bits that I thought were original and I’m glad I read them, but I wouldn’t recommend this for someone looking for a really engrossing read.

I’ve liked Jeff VanderMeer’s other books. I’m not sure why these fell flat, but they did. Maybe he was trying to be Clive Barker and couldn’t quite pull it off.

Yay, only two trilogies and two books to go!

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  1. Sounds a bit like Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. But bulked up into a trilogy because marketing.

    Was it maybe aimed at a YA audience?

    Your assessment sounds like the Eight Deadly Words, “I don’t care what happens to those people.”

      • Laura Eilers on September 30, 2014 at 12:09 pm
      • Reply

      I read a lot of YA SF/F and this still didn’t make the cut for me. There’s a ton of good YA stuff out there.

      1. Good to know!

  1. […] Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer [Laura reviewed Annihilation as part of its trilogy, and didn’t like it as much as the SFWA […]

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