Publication Date: Available now from Fourth Estate
Source: Purchased Copy
For thirty years, Area X has remained mysterious, remote, and concealed by the government as an environmental disaster zone even though it is to all appearances pristine wilderness. For thirty years, too, the secret agency known as the Southern Reach has monitored Area X and sent in expeditions to try to discover the truth. Some expeditions have suffered terrible consequences. Others have reported nothing out of the ordinary. Now, as Area X seems to be changing and perhaps expanding, the next expedition will attempt to succeed where all others have failed. What is happening in Area X? What is the true nature of the invisible border that surrounds it?
Blimey this was a creepy read! Really really good – after I finished it late last night it played on my mind for quite a while and sleep didnt come easy.. the sign of a good book as far as I am concerned.
We follow a group of women on an expedition to explore “Area X” – told from the point of view of one of them, the Biologist, the story creeps up on you, slowly building the tension as she tries to unravel the mystery that is this beautiful and yet dangerous place.
This is so cleverly constructed – for a start none of the characters have names, they are known simply from their job title within the group and for some reason this sets you on edge immediately – like the place they are investigating they have no anchor. You may think this makes it hard to relate to them, but strangely it makes them very very real, even if it is hard to get a sense of any of them bar the narrator. Seen solely through the eyes of one, the others take on an almost mystical quality, very much like Area X itself, where both everything and nothing could be real.
Speculative fiction at its best for sure – it is very hard to review to be honest, I would hate to give anything away, it is almost impossible to put down once you start. Another reviewer (writer J Lindoln Fenn) called it “So addictive the FDA should investigate” and that covers it nicely. Add to that Stephen King calling it “creepy and fascinating” and there you go. I would agree with both of those sentiments and add my own – Beware reading this one in the depths of night, you will almost certainly start jumping at shadows.
The descriptive prose is beautiful and deadly, setting the reader up for some genuinely scary moments and also some thought provoking ones. The Biologist herself is an appealing yet often unlikeable character and by the time I got to the end of it I was covered in goosebumps. That probably says it all.
Never have I been so pleased to have the next two books in the “Southern Reach” trilogy to hand already – I have started Authority, in fact did so first thing this morning and so far it is absolutely living up to the promise of Annihilation. Can I hope that the author will eventually answer all my burning questions about the nature of Area X? We’ll see – watch this space (although I’m not going to tell you!)
Highly Highly Recommended for fans of creepy, clever and addictive stories.
Find out more here: http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/
Follow the author on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/jeffvandermeer
A final note: The Hardback versions of the whole trilogy are beautiful. A great addition to any book collectors shelf.
Happy Reading Folks!