I knew about the film of course, but before that, I didn’t really know about the trilogy of books written by Jeff Vandermeer, despite them actually being already translated into the Czech language. I suppose I spend too many hours diving into the fantasy realms that I am missing out on a lot of post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller/horror action, which is pretty much what Annihilation is.
This review contains very mild spoilers
I had kind of a difficult start with the book, no point in denying that, but thinking more about the philosophy and course the book was taking, I was falling really hard. Not for the characters, you cannot really do that, but for the idea of the Area X, the main source of story and sci-fi in the book.
Imagine this. Imagine we were observers in an evolution, evolution of any kind. Is that something we could observe, knowing it is happening? Or would humans react the way we always do, with force, driven by fear and need to be superior? Over the course of the story, you are following five women, no names, only positions mentioned. Perhaps to clarify that this is indeed a story of the area, not the characters. To realize that army has taken over and in an army, your name is not important, unless its needed.
Knowing how the story progressed now, I can see the reason behind this decision. But when I began reading, it was one of the hardest parts for me to get over. It almost felt like a sloppy work, particularly the Psychologist, who seemed like your Sunday times colonist instead of studied professional.
But let’s get to the story itself. Area X is an unexplained ecosystem that started developing in The Southern Reach. There are some professionals sent exploring it, but nobody really returns, or do they? What is Area X and what is it becoming, I myself am on that path as I am getting ready (read: waiting for shipment to arrive) to read the second book.
Essentially what I really love is the deep philosophy you can find. Or perhaps it was just my impression. How we all begun? Our diverse faiths and our knowledge of how planet works are implanted into our brains since childhood and some of us, grow with it. Perhaps this ecosystem can do the same. The evolution progresses and who are humans to dare stop it or to tell it cannot happen. Area X is all that and more.
Annihilation has an amazing idea and writing of Jeff Vandermeer is very easy to dive into. Its a storytelling from the biologist’s point of view who takes us through the area.
It was an interesting choice of “main” character because she can be perceived in many ways. In one review online I’ve read she can be taken as autistic, while that is possible I think she was made who she is by the childhood she lived and the life she made for herself. She is not cold, not really, but she is scientifical not only about the Area X she is exploring but also in the way she leads her life. Which perhaps is a factor not many people can understand unless they themselves led what we can call “unfair and fucked up life”, you don’t need a diagnosis to become bitter, depressed or guarded. You only need experience and your own decision. Understanding the character of Biologist is perhaps what kept me reading when Psychologists character got on my nerves.
It all changes with the story. But you must pay attention to it, or you will miss the little details. “Creepy and fascinating,” said Stephen King about this book and the king of modern horror fiction is of course right.
is an American writer who writes on topics of sci-fi, fantasy and weird horror fiction. His fascination and devotion to ecosystems and nature perhaps come from his childhood he spent on the Fiji Islands.
Speaking of his writing, the book above won a Nebula and Shirley Jackson Awards. The Southern Reach Trilogy remains his best-known work, but Vandermeer goes on and released “Borne” in 2017, a novel that is best described as biotech apocalyptic horror.
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