Book Review: Annihilation
ashley | In Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation, a group of four are sent on an expedition beyond “the border” to explore Area X, an area in which eleven groups have been before and either vanished or died under tragic or mysterious circumstances. They stumble upon a tunnel – or a tower – and descend deep into the depths of the unknown, where they quickly uncover a world of unimaginable things.
The suspense and creepiness are rampant in this short read. Their exploration of the tunnel/tower is incredibly fascinating but equally frightening. They’re discovering things that don’t seem possible and putting themselves further into situations that aren’t in their best interest, but the curiosity and the draw is too strong, they can’t resist it. That draw captured me, too, drawing me further and further into the book, obsessively needing to know what was happening, a logical explanation for everything.
The group of four are all female, but are all nameless, known only the anthropologist, the surveyor, the psychologist and the biologist. The psychologist is the leader, while the biologist is the first person narrator. I really liked this dynamic, how the narrator was not the leader, it made for some unique perspectives you would not have gotten had they been one in the same. Throwing these four very different people together on one mission created a lot of interesting points of view and input.
For a complex character who claims she doesn’t like to show her cards much, we spend a lot of the book learning about the biologist and what brought her there, instead of focusing on the real interesting part of the book, Area X. I kept thinking we would eventually get past the biologist’s inner monologue, but it never ends. Even when she comes face to face with the Crawler, it’s all about her and not what is happening. I felt this was a wasted effort and I was slightly disappointed in the ending. I don’t know what I was expecting but I felt on edge through the whole book waiting for the other shoe to drop and it never did. I felt things were rather anti-climactic.
That said, this is the first of a trilogy so perhaps there’s more detail in the following books. And honestly, the bulk of this story was gruesome and horrific; VanderMeer does an incredible job of leaving a trail of suspenseful bread crumbs and I was hurrying along eating them up. With every step further into the mysteries of this area, another little pieces of the puzzle slid into place, but the pieces were so far apart that you couldn’t quite put together the whole picture. This part was a very creepy read that I really thought was something solid. I just wish it held on there at the end.