Book Review: Annihilation

Bizarre, Creepy and Atmospheric: Jeff VanderMeer’s Journey Through Area X

“The tower, which was not supposed to be there, plunges into the earth in a place just before the black pine forest begins to give way to swamp…” reads the first line of Jeff VanderMeer’s “Annihilation.” It is a cryptic, and even confusing sentence. It truly sets up the book in an incredible way, because the book IS vague and perplexing. The reader may have to re-read paragraphs to grasp their meaning and let it sink in. This is not a bad thing. VanderMeer’s novel is thought provoking and out of this world.

The story revolves around a group of four women: a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor. They are part of the 12th expedition into Area X. Area X is a place in South America that’s been reclaimed by nature. Many expeditions have been sent in to discover why this happened, but all who venture there suffer horrible and mysterious things. One expedition committed suicide all at once, another killed each other, and one had all of its members return home, but not as their former selves.

The book is told from the biologist’s perspective as she fights against the power of nature and her squadron to discover the secret of Area X, all while discovering more about herself.

  “Annihilation” is a wild ride through and through. The imagery VanderMeer weaves is masterful, as it is a vague sort of describing that allows the reader to create the image partially by themselves. VanderMeer demonstrates his ability to write throughout the whole book, and the amount of thought he put in shows.

The ending is completely bizarre and open-ended, leaving readers confused, but somehow satisfied as well. One gets the feeling that the book couldn’t have ended any other way.

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