Annihilation - Jeff VanderMeer


By Jeff VanderMeer

  • Release Date: 2014-02-04
  • Genre: Literary
4 Score: 4 (From 382 Ratings)


The Southern Reach Trilogy begins with this Nebula Award-winning novel that "reads as if Verne or Wellsian adventurers exploring a mysterious island had warped through into a Kafkaesque nightmare world" (Kim Stanley Robinson).

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.
The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it's the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.


  • Creepy

    By Alioh61
    A good story with a lot of mysteries. I definitely feel the need to read the other two books to see what Area X really is. It was a bit slow here and there, but not so bad that I came bored. I recommend it. And, it really is creepy.
  • One word...

    By Martholomeow
  • A Different Kind of Story About a Very Strange Place

    By Prairie_Dog
    "Annihilation" is a very different book, which I'm not sure I can classify. It seems like science fiction, horror, and fantasy all at the same time. It has been classified by some as an example of the "new weird" and that seems to be as good a definition as any. It also has been compared to Lovecraft, and there are certainly elements of that in the book. The story revolves around the mysterious Area X, which is actually a fictionalized version of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. This area has been changed by an undefined as yet force, which has resulted in a barrier being formed around the area. The area is returning to a natural state, but one with very unnatural elements. A shadowy government organization called The Southern Reach is in charge of this area, and has sent 11 acknowledged expeditions into it to try to discover its secrets. The members of expeditions either do not return, or return strangely changed. This is the story of the 12th expedition. The four characters of this expedition are never named, just identified by their professions. Our narrator is "The Biologist" and she is a very unreliable narrator indeed. Often her narrative has a dreamlike quality. She tells her story of the 12th expedition, and we learn more about her and Area X from her memories that are triggered by her experiences. There is a great deal of her internal dialog, but oddly enough, there is little other dialog with the other expedition members. Surprisingly, not a lot actually happens in the book as far as actual events: two areas are explored, odd things happen, disturbing discoveries are made, and everything falls apart. Our Biologist is deeply changed by her experiences. I found "Annihilation" fascinating! The idea of the strange Area X is certainly fresh and different. I'm glad this is only the first book of the trilogy, as I have many questions that I hope will be answered, but I fear that not all of them will be (and that might be good too). I'm pretty impressed with the setting and concepts, and I'm looking forward to the second novel, "Authority," in which we may learn something about The Southern Reach...
  • Ick

    By Sencilla
    This novel drags on like a whining child. It initially sucked me, because I thought something was going to happen. But no. Unless more and more whining counts for something.
  • Wut

    By erikagwen
    The hell did I just read? I'm diving in to the next book bc I'm at a loss for words.
  • Overwrought and Incomprehensible

    By SimSimi Lover :)
    A very poor imitation of the "Wool" series by Hugh Howley.
  • Over Priced

    By Sparkleglimmer
    I was very disappointed in this read. It was just TOO WEIRD -- and I typically love an odd storyline. Maybe the other books are better? I find it a bit ridiculous that this 200 page novel is 10 dollars. If you want a good SciFi read try Stephen King's 11/22/63. It's two dollars more and you get 700 more pages of story!
  • Fascinating ideas

    By Ptgmy5387
    Altogether too wordy but fascinating, nonetheless. Few would read this first installment and not want to move on to the sequels (as I will). That it is crafted somewhat like a mystery novel, it should appeal to those beyond the hardcore sci-fi collectors.
  • Annihlation

    By Nickname which is creative
    I enjoyed reading this book. I bought it on a whim, with no idea of what it was about nor reading any reviews. It sat on my nightstand for a month before I picked it up to read. It turns out, the novel was pleasantly engaging. Mysteries expounded upon with just enough explanation to keep me reading, with a nice amount of creep factor woven in. I do not like books that subsist on bizarre perplexing experiences with no explanations or follow up to keep the balance. This book did not do that. It gave just enough information to make me want to keep reading.
  • Rambling and Empty

    By Ilacas
    If you read books for the prose as well as the plot- pass on this one. I questioned my grasp of the English language on almost every page because I literally cannot make sense of what I just read. A disjointed read pretending to be a serious book- the trilogy for me ended with this one.