If J.J. Abrams and Margaret Atwood collaborated on a novel, it might look something like Annihilation, the first in an extraordinary trilogy. Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilisation.
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.
This is the twelfth expedition. Their 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 and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to 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. Annihilation is the first volume in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, which will be published throughout 2014: Volume two (Authority) in May, and volume three (Acceptance) in September.
©2014 Jeff VanderMeer Creative, Inc. (P)2014 2014 by Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"A tense and chilling psychological thriller about an unravelling expedition and the strangeness within us. A little Kubrick, a lot of Lovecraft, the novel builds with an unbearable tension and claustrophobic dread that lingers long afterwards. I loved it." (Lauren Beukes, award-winning author of Zoo City and The Shining Girls)"Original and beautiful, maddening and magnificent." (Warren Ellis)"One of those books where it all comes together - the story and the prose and the ideas, all braided into a triple helix that gives rise to something vibrant and alive. Something that grows, word-by-word, into powerful, tangled vines that creep into your mind and take hold of it. Annihilation is brilliant and atmospheric, a novel that has the force of myth." (Charles Yu, author of How to Live in a Science Fictional Universe)
A creepy, other-world story that reminded me of a cross between Ian Banks (not the scifi) with a dash of Into the mountains of madness. But, oh god, the narration!
The dialogue was delivered well but , on the whole, this has either been badly edited or her read was done in a hurry. There are no gaps over 1 second between sentences. The text runs into itself. Sentences are left meaningless and there is no sense of pace. Tension is killed. With a little more breathing space the mistakes in the read could have been forgiven - McCormick can get the tone right. I just found myself shouting "PARAGRAPH" a lot.
It's a shame the production spoils an otherwise interesting story
The book is brilliantly narrated, a nice range of modulation without ever going over the top or becoming distracting.
The opening third focuses on the interpersonal politics of a group of researchers, and in that way reminded me of Le Guin's 'Vaster Than Empires, and More Slow.
'The middle third owes a great debt to Lovecraft's 'At the Mountains of Madness.'
The impact of research on a personal relationship reminded me of the Chiang short-story 'Division by Zero.'
There's both humour and drama in the first act's scenes featuring the interactions of a group of scientists, each with different specialisms. I particularly enjoyed those.
The mad rush of the very ending, and the prospect of the future it looked out upon, I found affecting.
This was particularly because the book had sagged in the middle, and the writing in those parts seemed stale, which highlighted the verve and panache with which the conclusion was accomplished.
I'm still wondering if this is a fantastic book or something that doesn't make sense at all. Yes, like the other reviews you are left hanging with questions and nothing really is explained, but it's explained enough that you want to read the other two in the trilogy to find out!
It was one of the strangest stories I have ever heard or read. Very weird and absolutely hard work not to end listening before it was finished. I was constantly living in the hope the story would start to behave alas totally in vain.
A really great story, fantastically told. Strongly recommend. Will be checking out the next in the series as soon as my next credit comes in. Can't wait for the film!
Also, and this is perhaps more a general point but it is so refreshing to read a book (particularly of this genre) that features a female protagonist (and mostly female supporting characters too) yet it's almost incidental and steers clear of the tired clichés about female characters. She is written as a person and I don't think you see enough writing like that in books, TV or films.
There's too much waffle, the whole trilogy should be edited down to a single book. I found myself bored completely with utter disinterest in most of it. Some good bits of thriller horror sci-fi, but then stopped caring. Didn't even bother finishing the third book, just gave up on it and moved on to much more fun/interesting audiobooks.
brilliant, really well performed.
I'd get rid of anything personal to the characters, the memories, flashbacks, inner thoughts, make it far more expositional and a thriller. the incredible amount of garbage and waffle in between suspenseful scenes bored me out of my skull. I also got the sense that many descriptive elements were contradictory of themselves, that there were things being expressed that "may or may not have been happening" whilst I appreciate wanting your audience to "experience" what the characters are going through, I actually ended up just hating the story. I find it really funny that the book is compared to a project that JJ abrahms would do. In his early years he directed "lost" which alienated much of his fan base by leading them down a confusing and utterly pointless story... same thing with this book. confusing and pointless. Had great potential though.
can I have my money back?
Having reached the end of the first book in the series I'd agree with one coolest I read that suggested it was a bit like Margaret Atwood re-writing 'Roadside Picnic". There were some aspects of the prose that I wasn't entirely happy with & feel a bit of editorial work would help. So would I recommend it? Yes, but with reservations. It's a flawed work, & a bit short. Kind of sketchy in places ..... tho to be fair this is better than being over-written, & the sketchiness the authir would reasonably argue was largely deliberate. An omnibus edition will probably follow in a couple of years & be more satisfying as such. I am interested enough to see if the author has the ideas to lead this to a satisfactory resolution, which was obviously never going to be the point with a first volume.
Awful and dull. You have no idea what is happening, but not in a good way. Not helped by Carolyn McCormack's dull and monotonous voice with little character difference. I loved her in The Hunger Games, but this is just too flat and dull for an already flat and dull story.
Annoyed I wasted my time listening when I could have spent my time on something more enjoyable, a dentists appointment maybe.
Don't waste your money.
An ultimately unedifying story, pointless and uninvolving, with little character development and read by an actor whose cold and uninterested performance left me wondering why I should care about the protaganist in the slightest . I listened to the end assuming the denouement would pay off with a spectacular twist. I waited in vain. As first book of a trilogy I can only assume the books are aimed at masochists.
"good reading, preferred the chalet format."
It felt quite easy to get through this because there were only 5 long chapters. I liked that and I liked the reading, I think it got better as the book progressed. I just found the story a bit meh. it started well but for a bit confusing in places and then just a bit boring maybe. I was listening at work so it was maybe a bit difficult imagining all the details and concentrating on work at the same time.
Why would you make the first book in a trilogy available in Australia, and then NOT make the second two available?! You publisher muppets need to sort yourselves out.
The book is excellent by the way. Shame the author won't get paid for the next two.
"Story not very interesting"
Struggling to finish this. Read well. Boring no where to go story. I just didn't care where this was going to go.
"Short but full of curiosities"
I havent read the print version but I thought the Audio was good. The narrator has a bit of a weird style of over emphasising everything which was kind of annoying - but the story was good enough to get past that. She also narrated the Hunger Games trilogy which brought to mind a sort of association between the books, even though there is none.
The Biologist in that she's relatable in her curiousity and wonder at Area X, as well as her introversion. The Psychologist is an interesting character but we dont ever know enough about her.
Its a little over the top in the way the sentences are constructed but it isn't too bad.
Nothing is as it seems
I think this book could have been a LOT longer as it has you asking more questions than the answers it gives you. I really hope the sequels will flesh out the story more as currently its a place where weird things happen but we don't really get very much of an idea at all about whats going on. The first person telling also allows the author to hide a lot from us and there really isnt even any history into the region.
Well worth listening to as its short and if you like the weird and the wonderful, then you will like this.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.