Genre: Science Fiction | Horror
Themes: Biological Contamination, Government Conspiracy,
Psychological Fortitude, Supernatural Lifeforms
All I can say is—Wow. I LOVED this book. It dug its tentacles into me from the very first page, and I’m not sure it’ll ever let go. Certainly not until after I’ve devoured the other two books in the Southern Reach trilogy.
Annihilation is smart. It’s creepy. It’s challenging. It makes you think, and it doesn’t give you all the answers. I only wish I’d picked it up sooner, instead of letting it sit and gather dust on my “To Read” shelf for the past four years because I’d heard it wasn’t very good.
Compounding my procrastination with Annihilation was the fact that I recently read Borne, VanderMeer’s followup novel to the Southern Reach trilogy, and I didn’t like it very much. I worried that Annihilation would be much of the same.
But while Annihilation certainly has elements of Borne (or is it vice versa?), and the story is told in a similar fashion, the effect is so much more successful—and haunting—in Annihilation. I’m not going to give you a summary of the story, because you can easily find that yourself, but I will tell you a few of my thoughts on the book.
Annihilation is seriously creepy, as much from what is said as from what is implied. The implications of the discoveries made by the expedition members are so strange and unsettling—and downright horrifying—that they make the most sound mind shy away with discomfort. Your skin crawls with anxiety at the possibilities, even as you try to paint a picture in your mind of what the author is describing on the page.
As I read the book, my mind flashed with echoes of Event Horizon and Sphere--two favorites, both for their disturbing images and seriously creepy implications—and even some of the more discomfiting elements of The Hunger Games (are those dolphins regarding me with human eyes???). Really, though, the most unsettling thing about Annihilation is that no matter how alien or grotesque the features and inhabitants of Area X may be, they are all inexplicably human.
There is still so much I can’t even begin to understand about this book, but like “the biologist,” I’m not turning back now. Further exploration of Area X (aka the inner workings of Vandermeer’s mind?) awaits.
"When you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you."
"Bodies were one thing; no amount of training could prepare you for encountering a monster."
"Some questions will ruin you if you are denied the answer long enough."