Paperback Release: Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer
Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 208 pp. $13
When I page (scroll) through the catalogs looking for books I’d like to review in upcoming blog posts or book reviews, different things catch my eye that attract me to one book, or one author, over another.
In the case of Annihilation, I recalled the summer I graduated high school, when I read one of Jeff VanderMeer’s previous books: BookLife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer. I was 18, and it was a nonfiction book about how to be successful in this business we call writing, and I was hooked.
Let’s be frank: Annihilation is no BookLife. I requested this book because I enjoyed the first so much, but I continued past the first page because this book is just as good, if for different reasons.
There are very few characters in this book, and even fewer that have names. The protagonist, unnamed and undescribed aside from “the biologist,” whose perspective we follow through the story. We’re told all four members of this expedition, the biologist, the anthropologist, the surveyor and the psychologist, are all women.
The women are going into Area X, an extremely mysterious section that seems to affect everyone that explores it in different ways. The biologist is on the twelfth expedition; her husband was on the eleventh. Everyone from the eleventh expedition abandoned the mission and made their way back home. He came home earlier than expected and an entirely different person.
Now, the twelfth expedition seems to have effects of its own, and no one knows quite what’s going on.
For as vague as the story is, it’s quite captivating. Annihilation is the first in a trilogy to be published throughout the year (Authority will be released in June, and Acceptance in September) and it’s purpose is, essentially, to introduce us readers to Area X and to the experience reading this trilogy will undoubtedly be. It’s different, but it’s interesting and oddly compelling.