Book - 2014
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Baker & Taylor
Describes the 12th expedition to “Area X,” a region cut off from the continent for decades, by a group of intrepid women scientists who try to ignore the high mortality rates of those on the previous 11 missions. Original. 75,000 first printing.

McMillan Palgrave


The Southern Reach Trilogy begins with this Nebula Award-winning novel that "reads as if Verne or Wellsian adventurers exploring a mysterious island had warped through into a Kafkaesque nightmare world" (Kim Stanley Robinson).

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition 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 weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.
The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it's the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

& Taylor

Describes the twelfth expedition to Area X, a region cut off from the continent for decades, by a group of intrepid women scientists who try to ignore the high mortality rates of those on the previous eleven missions.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2014
Edition: 1st Canadian ed
ISBN: 9780374104092
Branch Call Number: SCIFI VAN
Characteristics: 195 p. ;,20 cm.


From Library Staff

Science fiction. For decades, Area X has been closed to civilization. Even though the government continues to send in secret expeditions to investigate the new wilderness growing in the area, no one knows why these explorers either fail to return or return as shells of their former selves. Annihi... Read More »

Area X has been closed to civilization for decades, although the government has been sending secret expeditions in to investigate this new wilderness. Why have none of these explorers returned unscathed? Annihilation opens with four women of the twelfth expedition being sent into Area X on a mapp... Read More »

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May 11, 2019

Annihilation is the first book in a trilogy about agents of a clandestine government agency exploring a forbidden territory.

Annihilation is a parable about personal identity, epistemological frustration, and the elastic boundaries of human consciousness.

Annihilation is a short novel structured around themes of exploration, control, and survival. The principal character and narrator, identified only as "the biologist," is simultaneously de-personalized and carrying out a deeply personal agenda regarding her lost husband. She is part of a small team which experiences catastrophic internal conflict, and she encounters phenomena of evidently non-human origin that are overwhelmingly exotic. The book defies genre, but I might class it as mystical horror, with some science fiction and espionage tropes.

Despite the obvious differences, Jeff VanderMeer's "Area X" and the "Kefahuchi Tract" of M. John Harrison's novels (Light, etc.) have more than a little in common. The infection/mutation of characters and their ambivalent encounters with transcendent power are in both cases oriented toward a mysterious region of putatively non-human influence. Protagonists have all-too-human motives working themselves out in shockingly inhuman contexts. VanderMeer's prose is less writerly than Harrison's, but it is efficient and engaging, and both manage the sort of impressionistic feat of bringing the reader to identify with the crucial ignorance of the characters, who are themselves not terribly sympathetic in their traits and histories.

I enjoyed this book and its two sequels.

Feb 23, 2019

"Annihilation" tackles difficult subject matter- change, death, self-destruction- through a mind-bending and reality-warping sci-fi/horror lens. There's true horror to be found in these pages; and yet, at the same time, somewhat hidden beneath the layer of existential dread there lies a sense of beauty.

Hillsboro_RobP Feb 04, 2019

I'm starting to think that Jeff Vandermeer books should come with a disclaimer: Vandermeer does not care what the reader thinks.
Annihilation is half a beautiful exploration of genre creativity and half a maddening slog of vague hints and unanswered questions.
I have to applaud what Vandermeer did with his protagonist. You are not going to like her, and you definitely shouldn't trust her. I've read two of this author's books, and never has the narrator been reliable. The other characters are just as meticulously created. Some might even be the true protagonist.
I found myself, much like Annihilation's characters, crafting wild theories about the narrative with no way to reach a true conclusion. A fascinating short novel of literature-twisting science fiction.

Jan 10, 2019

Pretty slow-going, hard to understand what is happening, and not much action. At the end of the book, you still won't understand what the mystery holds or what is going on - need to read the next 2 books in the series. Wouldn't invest the time in the 3 book series if I had to do it over again, but each book does get better as characters carry over from book-to-book and you gain more understanding of the "border" and "Area X".

IndyPL_SteveB Jan 09, 2019

Creepy and compelling short SF novel, first of a series. If the movie *Alien* could be described as a “haunted house in space”, perhaps this book could be described as an “ecological haunted house” story.

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the Earth for decades. Eventually the government (we are not told *which* government) found an entryway, so they sent an expedition to explore it. Then more expeditions. Disasters occurred: sometimes no one came back; sometimes the expedition members killed each other; sometimes they came back but strangely blank or dying. The 12th expedition is composed of only four women – a biologist (our focal character), an anthropologist, a surveyor, and a psychologist. On the first day in base camp they discover an odd tunnel, which the biologist insists should be called a tower. As bad decisions are made and the biologist gets deeper into Area X, the reader is filled with dread.

Very well written but not a good book to be read late at night.

Dec 23, 2018

All three books in the *Southern Reach* trilogy were published in 2014. *Annihilation*, the first book in the trilogy, is a short science fiction adventure horror novel about a team of female scientists tasked by a mysterious organization to investigate a mysterious jungle region known as Area X. VanderMeer so effectively channels classic Lovecraftian horror that I was half expecting Cthulhu to make a surprise appearance and inflict raging insanity on the helpless party members. Apparently the book was made into a Hollywood movie already; I find this somewhat surprising since there isn't much typical Hollywood action in the book.

Dec 17, 2018

Annihilation is one of the strangest, most surreal, enigmatic books I've ever read. It's certainly character rather than plot-driven, and other than the premise, which is very straight forward sci-fi, it defies genre. It feels more literary than anything else. We see the protagonist, a dispassionate biologist, psychically unravel in the pressure cooker of a strangely mutated landscape and the trickster government/military team she travels with. Who is the hunter? Who is the prey? What exactly is going on in Area X? What the hell is happening in that lighthouse? These are all questions you will ask during the course of the novel. Van DerMeer sort of answers them by the end. More importantly, he has created something so sublimely bizarre and other worldly, you sort of won't care.

OPL_DavidD Dec 05, 2018

I liked how much you got into the main character's head space, and what the book had to say about her and her circumstances. I'm a fan of introspective science fiction books with unreliable narrators, so this book pulled me in. I recommend it to any fans of introspective science fiction and the weird fiction sub-genre.

Nov 25, 2018

This book is vague. Not in either a good or bad way. It does a great job of intentionally leaving you in the dark as you imagine the wild possibilities of this ominous ecosystem. However, I saw the film first and actually enjoyed their interpretation a little more. Maybe it is an instance of what you see first is what you prefer. However, if you're into science fiction with a very sure sense of style, give a shot I suppose.

LPL_EliH Oct 31, 2018

At once lusciously imaginative and tense with dread, Annihilation is a gem of recent scifi. The mysteries of Area X are deep and satisfying whether you choose to finish the series--and trust me, it gets even weirder--or if you just let them ferment inside you for a while.

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