Okay. Let me just say that I absolutely LOVED this book. I read it in about 4 days (keep in mind it’s only 200 pages long) but it is one of the best books I’ve read in recent times. It has everything I want from a book and it also helped me to discover the weird fiction genre. I’ll write more on this in my detailed review.
From the very first page I read, I felt very unsettled and nervous. The author mixes elements of horror and mystery so well that at no point I knew what was coming next, which kept me on my toes for the whole read. Sure there were some passages that I liked better than others, but still the book really left a strong impression on me.
It focuses on this 12th expedition into Area X and follows one of the members. This means that the reader gets a very subjective view of proceedings that are happening which makes the book even spookier. Thus, if you are someone who likes a good horror/mystery story, but are also a fan of sci-fi/fantasy, by all means, READ THIS BOOK. You’ll love it!
I'll rate this book a 9/10. I had an absolute blast, reading "Annihilation" and the only time where I felt that the book fell short, were the flashbacks to the biologist's previous life.
Jeff Vandermeer was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania in 1968. He has won many awards for his bestselling books and he is mainly associated with the weird fiction genre. Until now he wrote an array of different books from novels to nonfiction books and also short stories
Date of release: 2014
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I, again, have to preface my review by saying that this book was absolutely phenomenal. When I first read the blurb on amazon, I didn’t really know what to expect, and so I was very curious when I started reading it. Quickly I realized that the book was very addicting. Once I started I could hardly stop. It captivated me from the very first page, by creating this ubiquitous sense of unsettledness, which I loved so much. Jeff Vandermeer did a fantastic job, of keeping the reader in the dark, practically until the end.
Briefly, the story follows four women who embark on the 12th expedition into Area X. However, things quickly turn dark, when one of the women (then anthropologist) is found dead and another (the psychologist) goes missing. Yet, at this point, we are already quite far into the story (which is only 200 pages long, to be fair).
I got the first real shivers when they started to explore the Tower (or tunnel, whatever you want to call it). When they climb down into the Tower (I’m just going to call it the Tower from here on out), I felt the same sense of unease that I expected them to feel as well. This level of engagement with the characters is something I don’t really experience that often (see my review of “Das schwarze Schiff), but I absolutely love.
It went so far that at a few points I was genuinely frightened. For example, when the biologist explored the lighthouse and discovered the blood and later the diaries. When she then found the psychologist, I was startled because I was so engaged and identified so much with the biologist.
Now, let me touch on this new genre that I discovered. It’s called “weird fiction” and Annihilation falls within this genre. It is basically a mix of everything I love in a great book. This means elements of horror/mystery, science-fiction and some fantasy. In my opinion, this is the perfect recipe for a fantastic book. I also discovered some books that I think can categorized in this genre as well, and that I want to read next.
I feel like it is important that I talk about the storyline, too, in my review. And to be honest, it is really hard to write something concrete, because the way the book is written is designed to leave the reader still thinking about the book, long after the “story” has ended. If I want to be brutally honest, everything I can tell you guys, is that it focuses on this expedition into Area X. The book follows the biologist on her path and reflects what she feels and experiences. At the end, her three companions are all dead and she leaves base camp and tries to follow the path her husband took (he was on the 11th expedition) along the coastline of Area X. What exactly Area X is – we don’t know. What physical and psychological changes happened to the biologist – we don’t know (well, apart from the fact that she seems to glow and is able to regenerate tissue faster that normal humans). How did Area X “start” – we don’t know.
This vagueness is something that I don’t know how I should feel about. On the one side, I have to admit that while reading, this never bothered me. If anything, it helped enhance my reading experience, because (as I mentioned) I loved this mystery component. Only now, thinking back, I realize that I don’t know that much about Area X or the biologist, for example.
To finish, let me talk about what I didn’t like about “Annihilation” by Jeff Vandermeer. It is not much, but I didn’t really enjoy the passages where she talked about her life prior to her signing up to be a member of the 12th expedition. I understand the necessity of those passages to be able to relate more to the biologist and to learn about her relationship with her husband. It certainly helped me to understand the biologist’s situation better and to sympathize with her even more. Yet, I did not enjoy them as much as I did the rest, simply because they weren’t that exciting.
All those question that are still around, may or may not be answered in the two sequels “Authority” and “Acceptance”, both of which I will most certainly read, and I am looking very forward to doing so!
Finally, who is this book for? Well, if you are already familiar with the weird fiction genre but haven’t read “Annihilation” yet, then this is for you. If you are a fan of horror books, you might give this one a shot. If you like a good sci-fi/fantasy book that leaves you thinking about it, then you might enjoy this book, too. I certainly did!