Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeerAnnihilation by Jeff VanderMeer


byJeff VanderMeer

Paperback | February 11, 2014

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Eleven secret government expeditions and few have returned unscathed-the first book in VanderMeer's exciting new Southern Reach Trilogy and soon to be a major motion picture

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization, and the government is involved in sending secret missions to explore Area X. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died 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 months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

Annihilation opens with the twelfth expedition. The group is composed of four women, including our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all of their observations, scientific and otherwise; and, above all, to avoid succumbing to the unpredictable effects of Area X itself.

What they discover shocks them: first, a massive topographic anomaly that does not appear on any map; and second, life forms beyond anything they're equipped to understand. But it's the surprises that came across the border with them that change everything-the secrets of the expedition members themselves, including our narrator. What do they really know about Area X-and each other?

JEFF VANDERMEERis a two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award. He has been nominated for the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, the International Horror Guild Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Bram Stoker Award and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. His most recent books have made the year's best lists of Publishers Weekly, ...
Title:AnnihilationFormat:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 7.5 × 5 × 0.52 inPublished:February 11, 2014Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1443428396

ISBN - 13:9781443428392

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Eerie, Lovecraftian read This book gave me trippy nightmares and kept me thinking long past its last page, which I think says something important. What a strange story. I loved it and I didn't. The premise is straightforward enough: an all-female twelfth expedition team ventures into the mysterious AREA X to detail their findings. A lot of people have remarked this, but it felt very Lovecraftian. I'm a firm believer that cosmic horror is best suited to literature.. there's nothing more impossibly frightening than the distorted, momentary monsters your imagination can conjure after vague descriptions. Annihilation was at its strongest when it was in the throes of its horror scenes. The creature design.. wow. Horror is my go-to genre for all media and VanderMeer did phenomenally creating haunting, truly terrifying creatures. That thing that lives in the reeds. What the fuck was that? Good god, I was terrified. It speaks to VanderMeer's level of immersive writing to have this sort of visceral reaction. I felt like I was in VR. Everything about AREA X was so warped like being in some fever dream. For me, this is what a bad drug trip would be like. I was lying in bed after, thinking about reincarnation, and how that has always interested me – being pulled into some great cosmic light then redistributed across the universe as pure energy into other beings. *Self* no longer really has meaning after that. But there's something so disturbing about the thought of that happening before one is ready. Not "not ready to die", but not ready to be transformed, to be morphed into something semi-human. Maybe being stuck, half-human, half-??? and what sort of grotesque creature does that turn you into? Aaaaa it was just so frightening to think about. I can see why ghosts would want to linger. As for the actual story: I could honestly skip past The Biologist's flashbacks - her relationship with her husband, although integral to the plot, was so dry. I understand that she was leaving a factual account of her experiences through a journal but it just fell flat next to the excitement nightmares VanderMeer was crafting within AREA X. I'm really torn between running to the bookstore to pick up the rest of the series or just leaving it be. It really doesn't seem to need further explanation. What could an author possibly construct to make cosmic horror more digestible? I think it's almost a betrayal to show all the cards. No magician's act was ever truly enchanting with the curtain pulled open.
Date published: 2017-11-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok i love this book and would 10/10 recommend to anyone interested.
Date published: 2017-10-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok i love this book and would 10/10 recommend to anyone interested.
Date published: 2017-10-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED THIS BOOK! This book was an absolutely incredible read! I couldn't put it down!
Date published: 2017-09-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Chilling and sublime I read this in two days, it was so gripping and mysterious... An awesome intro into what I can only assume is a thrilling series.
Date published: 2017-09-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Very Mysterious Very well written and descriptive. Creates the atmosphere and feeling when you read. It can be a little dry at points but there is always wonder. Nothing is much explained in the first book of what is going on, ended with a large cliffhanger but at the same time could be a stand alone book. That is, if you don't mind not having the answers.
Date published: 2017-08-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Almost had me This book immediately had me hooked from the opening pages. I liked the characters, the scenario, the world, the writing. I could not put this book down. I loved how little was explained and things were rather described for the reader to develop their own explanations but this awe wore off when I go to the ending portion of the book. Things began to unravel and it came apart for me. I'm not sure but I felt like the author was trying so hard to create an atmosphere that the story itself was not properly delivered. I know this is one book of a trilogy but as a book should still deliver on its own and for me it simply fell flat in the latter half.
Date published: 2017-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING I can't say enough good things about this novel! This was a thrilling read- highly recommend! I couldn't put it down
Date published: 2017-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED IT Honestly this book has been one of the most creative things I have read in a long time. Not only is the writing engaging and fast paced but the characters despite not having a name have very fleshed out personalities and are relatable. Upon reading the first few pages this book reminded me of the 1982 film, "The Thing" which also had an eerie feel with a sense of distrust among its main crew. The ending was a bit confusing but hopefully the other two books hold some answers to what happened at the end of this one. Some aspects of this book reminded me of The Madmans daughter which is another YA -sci fi novel. There is a movie coming out based on this book and hopefully the book is done justice and has the same eerie tone as Ex-machina.
Date published: 2017-07-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What a mindf*ck! I really wasn't sure what I was going into with this first book of the Southern Reach Trilogy and I'm glad I didn't because it completely took me by surprise by how different to what I thought it was. Calling the first chapter 'Initiation' was right - the scene is set with a brief overview on the flap jacket of the book but outside of that, "Annihilation" drops us right into Area X and the middle of the plot. The twelfth expedition of the four women - nameless but identified as a biologist, psychologist, surveyor, and anthropologist - are already underway and we are left to discover the surroundings and events that have led up to this point through the eyes and words of the Biologist. Truth be told, the first 20-pages or so were tough to get through as I was as lost as every expedition had been, and needed some time to ease into the style of Jeff VanderMeer and the mysterious world he has crafted. But beyond that, I was enraptured by it, possessed and easily suggestible by it even. There is something so claustrophobic yet so expansive about the way the story is told. It's detailed in what it has to say, coming from a very logical perspective that is of the Biologist, and while I usually detest books that overrun in minute descriptions, I had quite an absorbing experience reading "Annihilation". It was almost as though I was playing a first-person role-playing game and my avatar was the Biologist. The dark, isolating atmosphere that permeates from every corner of Area X weighs down on you, creating a foreboding sense of dread that eventually creeps under your skin. You will become as paranoid as the women of the expedition were, and feel the uncertainty and loneliness that run through the mind of the Biologist. It will be interesting to see how this book is adapted to the big screen since it is a very internalized narrative. While the movie has me pumped, I can't wait to dive in to read the other two books in the series and unfold the mystery bit by bit for my own peace of mind.
Date published: 2017-04-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Totally Bizarre and Totally Fun I completely forgot I had to read this for my book club, so I put my other books aside to read this. I must say I was pleasantly surprised! I’ve heard all of the comparisons to LOST, and I have to agree – this felt very reminiscent of that show. Similarities include, but are not limited to: hog hunting, placebos, a mysterious monster (smoke vs slime), and a mysterious vessel of sorts (a hutch vs a tower). In case you’re wondering, I thoroughly enjoyed both. We open up with an all female crew venturing into Area X. Our narrator is the biologist and she is traveling with the psychologist, the anthropologist, and the surveyor. This is the 12th expedition into Area X, which is being studied by a government agency called Southern Reach. Throughout the story we learn more about the 11 expeditions that traversed Area X before them, as well as the motivations behind the biologists involvement in the project. This is an imaginative, science-fiction read, but I didn’t personally find it to be scary or a work of horror as many call it. For a short book, I didn’t read it as quickly as I thought I would. There isn’t a lot of dialogue, and the majority of the book is made up of the biologists thoughts and observations, which made it feel a bit slower than I expected. This is a fun and escapist book, and I will be continuing with the series and hope to find answers to some of my questions!
Date published: 2017-04-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Lovecraftian Well, that didn't take long. This short book is an interesting look into the 12th expedition into Area X. Told from the point of view of the biologist of the expedition, we discover the environment and some of the mysteries of Area X. In the period covered in the book, you only really get to know the biologist, mostly through her telling about her past before going on the expedition. And she isn't the most likable character ever written. The other characters get very little (if any) back story given about them. But it doesn't matter because the book doesn't have time for character development. What it does have time for are the weird occurrences in Area X and Vandermeer is all about the 'new weird', having edited a couple of anthologies within the genre. This book fits into the category as having clearly been influenced by Lovecraftian fiction. There's unique and odd creatures, 'haunted' buildings and psychological tricks. The mystery of the book straddles all three of those aspects. In the end, this is a small piece of a greater mystery and I'm not sure I care enough about the mystery of Area X to carry on with the other books in the trilogy.
Date published: 2017-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Annihilation is mind boggling and twisted and freighting and disturbing. What? What did I just read? Annihilation is mind boggling and twisted and freighting and disturbing. This book is incredibly hard to review because of its weird story. Four women are sent into an area called Area X that has popped up with no explanation. The entire area is shrouded in mystery and you soon find out that the women chosen for the expedition are given very little information and outdated equipment when they enter Area X. This book is told in journal format written by one character. This format works exceptionally well for this kind of story because it adds to the mystery and intrigue of Area X. Should the reader trusts the writer or not? Jeff VanderMeer’s writing is beautiful and fits the story and narrative well. His word choice and description of events and things add to the mind boggling and twisted plot. A different writing style wouldn’t have the same effect that Annihilation has. The reader is given very little information about Area X as a whole. By the end of the novel, the reader still doesn’t have much information about it or what’s inside it or even what happened throughout the course of the novel. Even without this crucial information, the novel kept me glued to the pages. What information the reader is given is intriguing enough to continue reading in hopes of more. Overall, Annihilation is an absolute wonder of a novel. If you’re looking for something mind boggling and twisted to read, look no further. However, I will warn potential readers that if you need world building to enjoy a book you probably won’t enjoy Annihilation.
Date published: 2017-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Like a rollercoaster - glued to your seat, scared, interested.
Date published: 2016-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic This is a poetic, haunting tale with a really unsettling vibe that kept me thinking long after I finished the final page. The story of a team sent into an place known as Area X, the scene of a long-ago biological disaster, this book follows the exploits of the all-female team as they discover what really went wrong in Area X. Kicked it up because Stephen King recommended it, and I highly recommend it to horror and fantasy fans alike. Vandermeer is a clever and elegant writer.
Date published: 2016-12-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from all right book. a bit confusing, but okay #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Could not finish it This is quite a short book, but I still couldn't finish it. I really tried, read 100 pages, but I felt no attachment to any of the characters and no desire to find out what happened to them next. If you like reading books where you have no idea what is going on even when you are halfway through, then read this, but otherwise I would skip it.
Date published: 2015-08-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Annihilation I thought that this was a gripping, if somewhat frightening, read. The author leaked out details about the people, circumstances, surroundings, and "other things" with a contolled slowness that made it difficult to take a break.
Date published: 2015-01-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Promising but... Kept me reading for a while then it starts to ramble on and on and on... Hopefully the second book will bring back the tension.
Date published: 2015-01-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Captivating A wondrous and insightful composition. I loved the introverted nature of the biologist, which complimented the tone of dilapidation and aloneness that is found in Area X. What a perfect character to analyze this anomaly-filled space. She embodies the sense of wonderment in discovery and the urge to make sense of the world around us.
Date published: 2014-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Would make a great movie In November, I was in Toronto for a blogger meet-up and before the Ottawa Blogettes headed over to the event we were lucky enough to enjoy a coffee with the gals from Harper Collins. Kaiti and Suman are down to earth and very easy to talk to. Many of the Ottawa gals read predominantly YA so it was nice to get a chance to chat about upcoming adult books with Kaiti. There were a few books that were coming out in 2014 that she recommended and among them was Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. I was quite excited when it showed up in my mailbox a few short months later. This novel has already been optioned for a movie and I can certainly see why. It focuses on an expedition to Area X. Little is known about Area X and all previous expeditions have not garnered much information. The book focuses on the 12 expedition which is comprised of four women. There is an anthropologist, a surveyor, a psychologist and a biologist. The narrator of this story is the biologist and she describes a world that is intricate and interesting. The best part of this fairly short story is the incredible world building that Vandermeer does. We get to explore Area X as the narrator is exploring it and thus we are always kept in suspense about things. If the narrator is unaware of what creature lurks behind the creepy noises being made during the middle of the night, then we too are kept in the dark. Area X seems to be very organic and seems to have grown all on it's own. While the author does an amazing job at describing the creatures and seemingly intelligent plants in this novel, I think this would be an awesome thing to see in video format. The book is full of description but there is also quite a bit going on within a short period of time. It keeps the reader engaged and wanting to know more. This book is part of a trilogy and all books will be released in 2014. I must say that I am glad that I won't have to wait too long to figure out what's going on in this world. I would hate to have to wait for a year for the next installment of this story. My only dislike of the book was that it was difficult to connect with the narrator. You learn snippets about her life before Area X and you get to know her personality a bit while reading but it was difficult to really feel for her. Things tended to be very surface with this character. That being said, the narrator does have difficult making connections with those around her so this more than likely done intentionally. Regardless of that, I think I would have liked this novel even more if I could have felt empathy for this character. Overall, I quite enjoyed this book and I will definitely be reading the rest of this series.
Date published: 2014-08-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Horror fantasy that grabs and holds This book reminds me most of Solaris, a book and film about an ill-fated trip to Mars (I think Mars, anyway). An expedition arrives at the site of exploration. They believe they are the 12th such expedition, but soon find out there have been more. The small team does not bond, and in fact comes quickly to suspicion. Vague threats Are everywhere. There are mysterious towers and lighthouses to be explored. Nature is like something from Van Gogh's Starry Night painting. The end is equally mysterious, but not frustrating. I am keen to open the next book, wondering if it will be equally mysterious, or will turn new soil.
Date published: 2014-08-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Annihilation Looking forward to books 2&3
Date published: 2014-06-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Annihilation Very readable but just did not connect with the character. Probably should have been titled Assimilation instead.
Date published: 2014-06-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An interesting start... Well written Great writing... Good premise... Like how the author really got in to the biologists head... The character's flat analytic view though kills some of the potential excitement... A lush landscape but shrink wrapped... Will read the next one with interest... 4 stars for the writing...
Date published: 2014-04-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Surreal An engrossing read that takes place in a haunting, dreamy and surreal landscape. Vandermeer's writing is beautifully descriptive. Looking forward to the next installment.
Date published: 2014-03-18

Editorial Reviews

“Immersive, insightful and often deeply bloody creepy, this is a startlingly good novel … A major work.”