Select language, opens an overlay


Book - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:

Comments (85)

Add a Comment
May 10, 2021

Thought it was good except for the writing on the wall stuff.

Apr 05, 2021

This is a good book. It does a really good job with the subtle atmospheric horror and sci-fi vibe. I wouldn't recommend the next two books in the trilogy, since they don't really continue with the same atmosphere which the first book captured so well, although they aren't necessarily bad books.

Dec 28, 2020

Here's a word to describe this book: Perturbing. Now perhaps you like being unsettled in this way, which I guess is why there are whole genres of these kinds of books. Maybe for what it is, Annihilation is a good book. But this is my first (and most likely last) time reading this genre, so take my comments with a grain of salt. Let's start with what I did enjoy: the experience of a new and puzzling genre and the premise of exploring an unknown world with mystifying secrets. I just got bored on the journey! There was little action compared to the pages and pages of the narrator describing her childhood, her relationship with her husband, her scientific studies. Yawn. And the concept was so unreal that it didn't keep me engaged and definitely has not interested me in the rest of the trilogy. I also didn't like the way it reads like a dream. And not in the romantic sense of the word—I mean an actual dream: weird, vague, all-over-the-place; a hazy nightmare. I feel like there are deeper themes, but too vague or ambiguous for me to really understand which only made me feel stupid. But these are only my feelings about the book, and I see many others have really enjoyed it.

Oct 16, 2020

Jeff VanderMeer’s novel “Annihilation” bears little resemblance to the movie. If you were a fan of the movie, you may not like the book. The book is a slow burn cerebral experience that never really catches fire. Yes, there are many interesting things, but the story never ignites my imagination. It is just not my taste, though it may be yours. I’m glad I read it and believe there are many who will love it. I have no interest in reading the rest of the series.

May 15, 2020

This book is an excellent, atmospheric and unsettling spin on the science-fiction genre. A group of scientists, all of them women, are tasked with venturing into Area X: a coastal area that has been abandoned for 30 years which has produced a scientific phenomenon known as The Shimmer. The Shimmer appears as a strange glow that seems to change and morph the DNA of all organisms within it. The Shimmer is growing steadily in size, and the group of women are required to record any and all information they encounter, as well as trying to find clues about all of the previous expeditions. They are then required to return with their findings. These women are the 12th expedition into Area X; all previous expeditions have been fraught with lapses in communication, suicides, death, and mysterious disappearances.

The group of women are comprised of a biologist, a surveyor, a psychologist, and an anthropologist. The story unfolds as a series of observations from the biologist's field journal. We learn that the biologist's husband was one of the people in a previous expedition, and we see that this mission takes on a personal meaning for her as she tries to learn what happened to her husband. As readers, we also learn that the narrator, the biologist, is highly unreliable. She quickly lies to her teammates in order to venture further into Area X, despite one of the women disappearing and a series of mysterious incidents occurring. Vandermeer is excellent at slowly building tension and horror, and as the women venture deeper into Area X, the events that unfolds become even more mysterious and eventually, horrifying.

Many readers were frustrated that the end of the book left many questions unanswered, but I appreciated it; sometimes I feel that works of art that leave you with questions are often more powerful and impactful than those works that tie up all loose ends. This book is the first in a trilogy, and I will definitely be reading the next in the series to continue with this strange and fascinating journey. I also really loved that all of the main characters in this work were women; that is very uncommon in a genre such as science fiction. Overall, I found this work fascinating and there were times where I could not put the book down because I wanted to find out what happens next. I highly recommend this book.

RyanR_KCMO May 07, 2020

This book is another perfect example of science fiction at its best. Instead of using shockingly alien and bizarre situations for some effect, VanderMeer puts his characters into situations predicated by an anomaly but focuses on their very human and regular interactions. VanderMeer also respects the reader by not turning over all the stones and giving away the mystery. There are still so many questions at the end of the book. These blatant omissions are tools to focus the story not on the things being uncovered in “Area X,” but instead on the people sent to do the uncovering.

MickWF Apr 09, 2020

Unlike any book I’ve ever read. A perfectly strange blend unsettling beauty, slow burning tension and environmental cosmic horror. At less than 200 pages, this quick read stuck with me longer than any other book. It’s the first part of a trilogy, so make sure you have the other two on hand by the time you finish this one!

HCL_staff_reviews Mar 23, 2020

I was listening to NPR last year and heard a review of "Annihilation," and was intrigued. I put it on my Goodreads to-read list and finally got around to reading it this winter. I couldn't put it down. It chronicles an expedition to Area X, a quarantined area on a coast in an unidentified part of (an alternative, future?) United States. This is the first book of the Southern Reach trilogy, part of a genre called weird fiction. The main character in the book is "The Biologist," one of an expedition of the team of four into Area X from an organization called the Southern Reach. The team does not use their names and is composed of all females because they are trying to avoid problems that came up with the previous 11 expeditions. High jinks ensue, with the Biologist being simultaneously affected by and accepting the strange powers of Area X while also trying to keep a scientific mind. I had to read the sequel, "Authority," immediately after I finished the book. A great introduction to weird fiction. — Ian S., Communication

Tigard_AdrianneD Feb 23, 2020

Our detached and possibly unreliable narrator, a biologist, takes us through Area X, a pristine wilderness blocked off by mysterious forces filled with unusual animals. The biologist is part of the 12th expedition into Area X, feeling the urge to go there after her husband came back from the previous expedition a shell of who he was. VanderMeer has created an interesting space filled with lots of unknowns, and you don't get many answers in this book, and maybe not even in the trilogy. Still, the mystery is enough to hold you, and being left with questions only makes the mind wonder, and the work that much engaging.

OPL_AnnaW Dec 20, 2019

The first book in VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, this is sci-fi for folks that may not label themselves sci-fi readers. Mysterious things are happening in Area X, and a select group of professionals are tasked with figuring out why.

Sep 19, 2019

Numerous expeditions have been dispatched to explore the newly-discovered and bewildering Area X, but participants always come back altered or die prematurely (when they return at all). An unnamed biologist, whose husband participated in a previous expedition and has since died of cancer, joins the newest team setting out, and things get pretty creepy right away.

I guess I was expecting this to be a thriller of some kind, maybe even psychological. It was overall...unexciting, with no real climax of "aha" moment. Even the mysterious creatures were rather dull. I found I didn't really care what happened to the protagonist, and certainly not enough to read any further into the series.

Jul 17, 2019

Though most would consider it horror, Annihilation reads more like science fiction that unsettles the reader with its oddities and warped distance from reality. The narration is engaging and kept me enveloped for its entirety. I've never read another book quite like it, and I'm glad for it.

Jul 15, 2019

I stopped reading the Southern Reach Trilogy after the 2nd book. "Annihilation" was okay but purposefully and frustratingly hard to read. But it was a LOT better than the 2nd book "Authority" in which almost nothing of real interest or note occurred until the end, which of course being a trilogy resolved nothing. I'm serious - half the sentences in "Authority" were questions the 3rd person John Rodriguez (new director of the Area X research facility) was asking HIMSELF! And there was so much clutter in the story, about who wore what, back histories that were irrelevant and detailed descriptions of people coming and going. I couldn't believe this series was actually liked. I have just finished a collection of all of H.P. Lovecraft's works and his best stories do not compatre at all - at least he eventually resolved the plot. And to boot, Jeff decides to make the lighthouse keeper gay, as if to check a political correctness box in the final book "Acceptance".

Hard pass - there is far better scifi out there.

May 11, 2019

Annihilation is the first book in a trilogy about agents of a clandestine government agency exploring a forbidden territory.

Annihilation is a parable about personal identity, epistemological frustration, and the elastic boundaries of human consciousness.

Annihilation is a short novel structured around themes of exploration, control, and survival. The principal character and narrator, identified only as "the biologist," is simultaneously de-personalized and carrying out a deeply personal agenda regarding her lost husband. She is part of a small team which experiences catastrophic internal conflict, and she encounters phenomena of evidently non-human origin that are overwhelmingly exotic. The book defies genre, but I might class it as mystical horror, with some science fiction and espionage tropes.

Despite the obvious differences, Jeff VanderMeer's "Area X" and the "Kefahuchi Tract" of M. John Harrison's novels (Light, etc.) have more than a little in common. The infection/mutation of characters and their ambivalent encounters with transcendent power are in both cases oriented toward a mysterious region of putatively non-human influence. Protagonists have all-too-human motives working themselves out in shockingly inhuman contexts. VanderMeer's prose is less writerly than Harrison's, but it is efficient and engaging, and both manage the sort of impressionistic feat of bringing the reader to identify with the crucial ignorance of the characters, who are themselves not terribly sympathetic in their traits and histories.

I enjoyed this book and its two sequels.

Feb 23, 2019

"Annihilation" tackles difficult subject matter- change, death, self-destruction- through a mind-bending and reality-warping sci-fi/horror lens. There's true horror to be found in these pages; and yet, at the same time, somewhat hidden beneath the layer of existential dread there lies a sense of beauty.

Hillsboro_RobP Feb 04, 2019

I'm starting to think that Jeff Vandermeer books should come with a disclaimer: Vandermeer does not care what the reader thinks.
Annihilation is half a beautiful exploration of genre creativity and half a maddening slog of vague hints and unanswered questions.
I have to applaud what Vandermeer did with his protagonist. You are not going to like her, and you definitely shouldn't trust her. I've read two of this author's books, and never has the narrator been reliable. The other characters are just as meticulously created. Some might even be the true protagonist.
I found myself, much like Annihilation's characters, crafting wild theories about the narrative with no way to reach a true conclusion. A fascinating short novel of literature-twisting science fiction.

Jan 10, 2019

Pretty slow-going, hard to understand what is happening, and not much action. At the end of the book, you still won't understand what the mystery holds or what is going on - need to read the next 2 books in the series. Wouldn't invest the time in the 3 book series if I had to do it over again, but each book does get better as characters carry over from book-to-book and you gain more understanding of the "border" and "Area X".

IndyPL_SteveB Jan 09, 2019

Creepy and compelling short SF novel, first of a series. If the movie *Alien* could be described as a “haunted house in space”, perhaps this book could be described as an “ecological haunted house” story.

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the Earth for decades. Eventually the government (we are not told *which* government) found an entryway, so they sent an expedition to explore it. Then more expeditions. Disasters occurred: sometimes no one came back; sometimes the expedition members killed each other; sometimes they came back but strangely blank or dying. The 12th expedition is composed of only four women – a biologist (our focal character), an anthropologist, a surveyor, and a psychologist. On the first day in base camp they discover an odd tunnel, which the biologist insists should be called a tower. As bad decisions are made and the biologist gets deeper into Area X, the reader is filled with dread.

Very well written but not a good book to be read late at night.

Dec 23, 2018

All three books in the *Southern Reach* trilogy were published in 2014. *Annihilation*, the first book in the trilogy, is a short science fiction adventure horror novel about a team of female scientists tasked by a mysterious organization to investigate a mysterious jungle region known as Area X. VanderMeer so effectively channels classic Lovecraftian horror that I was half expecting Cthulhu to make a surprise appearance and inflict raging insanity on the helpless party members. Apparently the book was made into a Hollywood movie already; I find this somewhat surprising since there isn't much typical Hollywood action in the book.

Dec 17, 2018

Annihilation is one of the strangest, most surreal, enigmatic books I've ever read. It's certainly character rather than plot-driven, and other than the premise, which is very straight forward sci-fi, it defies genre. It feels more literary than anything else. We see the protagonist, a dispassionate biologist, psychically unravel in the pressure cooker of a strangely mutated landscape and the trickster government/military team she travels with. Who is the hunter? Who is the prey? What exactly is going on in Area X? What the hell is happening in that lighthouse? These are all questions you will ask during the course of the novel. Van DerMeer sort of answers them by the end. More importantly, he has created something so sublimely bizarre and other worldly, you sort of won't care.

OPL_DavidD Dec 05, 2018

I liked how much you got into the main character's head space, and what the book had to say about her and her circumstances. I'm a fan of introspective science fiction books with unreliable narrators, so this book pulled me in. I recommend it to any fans of introspective science fiction and the weird fiction sub-genre.

Nov 25, 2018

This book is vague. Not in either a good or bad way. It does a great job of intentionally leaving you in the dark as you imagine the wild possibilities of this ominous ecosystem. However, I saw the film first and actually enjoyed their interpretation a little more. Maybe it is an instance of what you see first is what you prefer. However, if you're into science fiction with a very sure sense of style, give a shot I suppose.

LPL_EliH Oct 31, 2018

At once lusciously imaginative and tense with dread, Annihilation is a gem of recent scifi. The mysteries of Area X are deep and satisfying whether you choose to finish the series--and trust me, it gets even weirder--or if you just let them ferment inside you for a while.

Aug 22, 2018

Annihilation is written like the protagonist is trying to remember a dream. You know how the details upon waking are all fuzzy and slippery? This makes the story both exciting but hidden in half-truths. Don't be surprised if upon reading a scene you feel like you glossed over important information. In this case, it wasn't reader inattention. The narrator is being guarded and cagey.

Aug 20, 2018

I decided to read this book after I heard Alex Garland speak about the movie he made based on this novel. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I must say I enjoyed the book. The psychological thriller aspect of the book wasn't a let down. All in all, reading this book was time well spent. I'll be sure to read the additional books in the series.

1-25 of 85 items

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings

To Top