If J. J. Abrams, Margaret Atwood, and Alan Weisman collaborated on a series, it might be this awesome.
This collection includes all three novels in the epic Southern Reach trilogy: Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance. Praised for its evocative prose, chilling psychological twists, and intriguing story arc, this series has amassed high critical and popular acclaim, with book one landing on the New York Times best sellers list.
Dive into the mysteries of Area X, a remote and lush terrain that has inexplicably sequestered itself from civilization. Twelve expeditions have gone in, and not a single member of any of them has remained unchanged by the experience - for better or worse.
©2014 VanderMeer Creative, Inc. Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance © 2014 by VanderMeer Creative, Inc. (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
This series starts off like "Lost" - mysterious place with lots of questions.
Book 2 is a slog. It's all inter-company squabbles of the Dharma Initiative.
Book 3 is decent with some action. A bit dreamy and weird and hard to follow but the answers are coming right? And then it ends so abruptly I actually yelled "WTF!" at my car stereo. If you want a great start that then will waste hours going absolutely nowhere... Area X is it.
Think 'Lost' or 'The Leftovers'. Two tv shows that play on piling up many questions. Area X is a nice deal, three stories of an anthology sold as one. An unexplainable expanse has opened up in a forgotten part of the world. A government agency full of secrets over sees its exploration. You the reader are never given answers. The characters are always trying to find out just what the heck is going on.
As an idea, this anthology is 5 stars. Amazing idea. One of the best ideas I have come across in the sci-fi genre.
The manner in which this idea unfolds over the three stories is exquisite. Beautifully done.
I found this story lacking though. Its hard to read/listen to. Its very slow. Where it should be relying upon suspense, it rarely does. Its well written. But wordy. I like introspection, but there is too much of it here. It could have been bettered by more conversations between the characters.
I also found that the characters were all very similar. That one character they all really are is good, but I don't think everyone acts this way. Reading 5 or 6 characters that take on this same over all persona becomes deadening.
You know how when one book has a good idea, 500 other authors take on the same concept? Like Interview with a Vampire started a slew of vampire novels or how you can find 1000 different zombie titles on audible right now? Area X stands alone. I hope other authors are inspired by this concept & that 10 years from now we see it explored in more detail. I think that VanderMeer has something good, but that it has not been explored to its fullest.
Easily in the top 20, if not the top 15. If the ending was not so stark ( and that is being mild ) maybe even finer. The 3 different stories are disjointed to be sure, with different performers as well, but on balance this is an epic journey, and one well worth going on.
The underlying story is fascinating ( if not always clear ) but the most compelling piece is ( predictably of course ) the characters. Control...The Director...the Lighthouse Keeper. They truly DO stick with you, and you want to know...WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON??!!
Wow, a difficult choice. As time wore on in this journey, the Director drew me in. Especially in the last book and how she was was portrayed. A wonderful journey with stunning performers. Carolyn McCormick turns in a scintillating performance.
Gosh, there as so many. Frankly, what moved me is the ending or the FRICKING LACK THEREOF.
Seriously, this is a long trilogy, and a serious commitment of emotional and personal energy To have the ending so....sharp...( no spoiler here ! ) is maddening, for reasons that the next listeners will understand.
That may be petty, but as other reviews have noted, we require a 4th book, in the trilogy, if you know what I mean.
Otherwise, the resolution of book 1 is a moving piece.
My comments above capture my sentiments. This is an amazing work, marred only by the challenges already presented. I highly recommend this offering to any reader. It is worthy of your time, notwithstanding.
I didn't read the description before plunging in head first. It is well written and very intriguing, I loved the horrifying elements, the justifications with theories, and the associated madness.
Enjoyable and at the same time unsettling. It was like a mystery that, as it was revealed, became even more mysterious. For the most part the narrators were very good although ghost bird seemed to stumble a bit at times. I would like to know what has happened to Control, Jackie, Grace, Ghost Bird, Saul, Gloria, and, especially, Whitby!
The first book is dry and very tedious, and the narrator does not help much. Book two really gets more in depth and creates good characterization across the cast of the first and second installments. This discrepancy makes sense in terms of the story's structure, but is almost unbearably painful to endure as a reader/listener.
The final part of the trilogy feels a bit hurried, if anything, because it is trying to tie up loose ends that were really woven well in book 2. The flashbacks to finally create a backstory to the most enigmatic characters of the trilogy wok as a swan song.
This is an adequate story, but a mediocre performance and questionable pacing put this on a beach-reader or traffic-listening level. It's easy to zone out and ignore parts of the story, and you find yourself not missing much.
Scientist soldiers battle giant aliens and each other at the edge of our imperiled world and ecosystem in the southern reach. A thriller that works its way backwards from cataclysmic events to reveal the seeds of destruction and subterfuge caused by corrupt, ambitious scientists and government officials and the emotional drama of a cadre of fighters who try to outwit the enemy and share what it feels like to fight for the tiny shards and moments of goodness of humanity while losing the battle amidst hopeless odds and surreal light show physics.
I have a lot of trouble trying to describe these books. I guess my elevator pitch would be something like Roadside Picnic by way of meditative naturalism, North Florida ecology, and psychedelics.
At its core, it's mostly about people attempting to understand and cope with the unknowable, on a lot of different levels. It's EQUAL parts horror, introspection, melancholia, peace, mystery, creeping dread, beauty, and just plain weird fiction. It made me feel strange and serene, and at times, viscerally dislocated from reality in a way that only a handful of media experiences have.
People have talked about the horror elements of this book being dependent on the reader's own personal boundaries - their view of the human experience, concept of nature, etc, and I fully agree. It's scary in a lot of places, sure, but it's not "a horror book", or "a science fiction book", in the way that you would expect based on those descriptions. It's a trip to go on rather than a series of problems to understand and resolve.
The characters were fascinating to me, and their narrative felt intensely visceral, partly because of the wonderful narration which I believe enhanced the tone and mood of the stories rather than trampling on them, which could have all too easily happened with different actors and direction.
There's apparently a movie deal in the works, but I can't see that doing it any justice unless they somehow combined the directoral qualities of The Coen Brothers, David Lynch, Cronenberg, god knows who else, and then didn't even attempt to make it profitable.
Vandermeer creates some very engaging characters--I often listen to books while I run, and on more than one occasion I found myself taking several extra laps around the block instead of finishing up my run because I wanted to hear more from them.
I found the Director grew increasingly compelling throughout the books--Carolyn McCormick's performance enthralled me when she took center stage in the story.
There were many great moments throughout the books--the flashbacks to the Director's past in the pre-Area, Control's troubled and fascinating history, but it was probably the revelations at the end that made the most impact on me. While I thought the ending worked, it also really left me wanting to hear the continued story of these characters in the new status quo.
How can I describe this series... Easier to compare it style to other works as to not spoil anything. It would fit right in among old pulp fiction. It has a little bit of lovecraft and mythos, it has a bit of swamp thing. It's very different from most things classified as science fiction, so does not belong in that classification. This will be one I come back to; I need to see if many of my suspicions have merit or if the story just took me for a ride. I recommend this book to anyone that likes strange (weird) tales.
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