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Annihilation

Southern Reach Trilogy, Book 1
Narrated by: Carolyn McCormick
Series: Southern Reach Trilogy, Book 1
Length: 6 hrs
4 out of 5 stars (227 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The first volume of the extraordinary Southern Reach trilogy - now a major motion picture written and directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina) and starring Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaac.

For thirty years, Area X has remained mysterious and remote behind its intangible border – an environmental disaster zone, though to all appearances an abundant wilderness. The Southern Reach, a secretive government agency, has sent eleven expeditions to investigate Area X. One has ended in mass suicide, another in a hail of gunfire, the eleventh in a fatal cancer epidemic. Now four women embark on the twelfth expedition into the unknown.

©2014 Jeff VanderMeer Creative, Inc. (P)2014 2014 by Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"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 contemporary masterpiece." ( The Guardian)

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Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Didn't like the narrator

The narrator has a very odd way of reading which made the story quite hard to follow. Her intonation was all over the place, yet her pace and volume stayed the same, even in dramatic or suspenseful moments. The overall effect was one of emotionlessness. I am not sure if this was a conscious decision on her part (given that the protagonist is a scientist writing an expedition journal this would make sense) but it didn't work for me at all.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Watched the movie, read the book.

I came by this book series via the netflix movie. It was incredible, so I started listening on the book, and ordered the whole book series. The book and the movie are almost as if two separate entities that are bound together by some of the characters and few similarities. I can't really compare them as they are so different, at least the way I saw saw the world in my head. But still the book is a piece of art. Loved it, will read again some day.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Oh gosh. Nope.

This book is the perfect storm of a narrator who, bless her heart and despite her best efforts, was not the person for this read, an opaque plot that never comes together or makes sense and prose that most decidedly does not sing. Pass.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • Athens, Greece
  • 06-03-18

Almost but not quite vague enough

Have you ever read a book that you couldn't give spoilers away even if you wanted to? Well this is it. I cant give spoilers because almost nothing of consequence that you cant deduce in the first 10 pages happens. The characters have no relatable motivations, no growth or arcs and no conclusions or catharsis of any form. The world is vaguely described but not vaguely enough so you are left with a feeling of incompleteness instead of surreal.

People that didnt enjoy the series LOST stay away.

People that expect hard science fiction stay away (the most sciency jargon is "eucariot").

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Tedious environmental Lovecraft

NON SPOILER REVIEW: While Annihilation is technically well-written and the individual scenes are quite enjoyable, progressing through the book makes one realize the lack of coherent structure and momentum necessary to bind a story of this type together. With two hours to go, I realized The Biologists relationships, insights and experiences weren't going to tie together in any neat character moment. And they didn't. It sort of all just fell into a heap, like being poured out of a bucket. I can push it around with the toe of my boot and see the whole, but it's still a weak gruel. The conclusion is a decompressed, toothless Lovecraft - a futile barrage of adjectives to describe the indescribable that doesn't hold the journey it took you on. The whole book is just a long winded justification to explain what has sort of been inexplicable. And I'm no better for the knowing. If you're into maudlin, sci-fi with a main character that keeps you as distanced as she does from the world, and that's more into justification than exploration, then have at it. There's a couple nice character moments, but it's not enough for me. If this was a 30 page short story, I think I would have loved it and the length would have justified the idea. The narrator does a solid job with what she's given. ps. I apologize, but I don't care if there are answers in the later books. I'm talking about this one. *** SPOILER * * * * Yes, I know her experiences as a biologist are a (pale) reflection of the experiences she was currently undergoing. Where observer becomes subject etc. But it's not enough. As I said, that's a 30 page idea. Tops. Sorry to be so negative.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Soulless, but good.

Interesting story. The Biologist is probably the least likeable character ever created. The narration fits her, although a lot of times felt like listening to an artificial voice, like Alexa or the Google Translate voice. Also, she pronounces the word "detail" in such a wierd way (-dettaele-) that it will haunt me for my life.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Doesn't make much sense after a single listening

I liked the first part of the book better than the second, because I thought that plotwise the story would explain itself. At the 5 hour mark (with a 6 hour book) I had the feeling that with a story still getting more complex and confusing, this is not going to be the case.
The descriptions of the enviroment were beautiful, and some of the 'insanity moments' were impressive too.
I would give 3 stars if this was a stand alone book, but I hope that the whole trilogy will explain the details.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Creepy and thought provoking

It was very unnerving. The protagonist isn't a very likeable character. But that is intentional. Open-ended and thought provoking. Read of you like forming your own conclusions.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A good book

Great narrator,very good book,it goes under your skin,i’ll read the others,there’s only one thing i would have chosen differently,the author could have been more descriptive ,seems to me kind of on purpose just to make you wanting more.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

tedious and scattered

overcomplicated, scattered logic and thought profession made it hard to follow and siimultaneously it was tedious and not enticing. the speaker was dry but this may be due to a very dry narrative
at no point in the story did I have a clue what was happening and what was revealed was spoonfed to the audience

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Profile Image for Lawrie Roboto
  • Lawrie Roboto
  • 02-04-18

Poor reading

I wanted to like this - it’s a story that definitely appeals to me, but unfortunately the narration by Carolyn McCormick is very, very poor. I was often completely pulled out of the story because she has no idea how to read out loud, and would voice sentences in such a confusing way - random pauses, inappropriate intonations, complete mispronunciations - that I had a hard time following the story at all. I wanted to enjoy this, but honestly, it was a relief when it was over.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Andy
  • Andy
  • 09-19-14

An interesting story let down by the production

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

30 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Matt
  • Matt
  • 07-04-16

By the third book i'd given up and was over it.

What would have made Annihilation better?

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.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

area x

What about Carolyn McCormick’s performance did you like?

brilliant, really well performed.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Annihilation?

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.

Any additional comments?

can I have my money back?

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Paul Driscoll
  • Paul Driscoll
  • 01-05-18

Tedious and poorly narrated

An interesting premise weakened by a poor narrator; at times read far too fast and barely understandable.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • TommyBurn
  • 01-04-18

Interesting story, almost ruined by narration

I think I'm pretty tolerant of narrators usually, but this sounded to me like a computer reading out an email. in places the intonation and timbre were just wrong with gaps where there shouldn't be or sentences running together.

the story was interesting. reminded me of J G Bllard. I am a bit luke warm towards Ballard, and to this, but if you are a fan I definitely think you will like this book.

I probably will give the other 2 in the series a go.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • nick384
  • 03-07-18

A lot about nothing....

For some reason I wanted to finish it, but I hated it ever step of the way.

There was a lot of words that shouldn't have been used and thrown together, it was like the author was sat with a dictionary and tried to use as many words as possible, it flitted between past and present with no reason.

Long drawn out monologues like along the lines of "it was a light, but less of a light, more of a ocean but it wasn't an ocean and I was drawing, I was a sparrow but also a duck and inside me was a fire that was in fact actually just my liver"

Pointless....

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Bonje
  • Bonje
  • 11-16-17

Dull

The reader of this book makes it impossible to enjoy she is dull and monotonous and lifeless bringing not life to the characters or story its is just awful

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for John
  • John
  • 07-03-16

The Jury is out ....

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for MarieSciFiAddict
  • MarieSciFiAddict
  • 05-02-16

Awful bizarre story

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.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • N. Tucker
  • 09-30-19

So bad

Clunky and corny with barely drawn characters running through cliched tropes of a slow moving morass of a hole-filled plot.

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  • Michael John Beggs
  • 01-15-15

Narrator is perfect

Carolyn McCormick is the perfect Biologist. Brilliant story, but I am really glad to have heard this as an audiobook because the narrator inhabits the character so well. Wish the next two books were available here.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mary
  • 10-06-17

Please add the whole trilogy

Please add the whole trilogy to Audible. Please! I am dying to hear the rest. Thank you.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • James
  • 01-24-17

Boundary pushing stuff

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This book was recommended to me by a friend. I have in turn recommended it to others. The genre is my thing and I was looking for something after relistening to the Dune series.

This book is not laid back listening. It has a constant undertone that kept me off kilter and made me think the whole way through. I imagine that I will get more from it each time I listen to it. I am going to get the hardcopy as well, as this is a story that is original, originally told and uses a very different style of prose to put together quite a complex and interesting story.

What other book might you compare Annihilation to, and why?

I don't think I can compare it to another book. The style is quite unique in that the full story is told in a linear fashion but is actually not a linear narrative.

Which character – as performed by Carolyn McCormick – was your favourite?

I listen to the books at 1.25x speed - I think this meant that I lost some of McCormick's intonation and phrasing. Others have praised her narration - I think they are right but there was something a little off kilter (and perhaps that was deliberate).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Robert W. White
  • Robert W. White
  • 04-05-16

lots of metaphor. pretty dry to follow.

thoroughly metaphorical. not really my thing but i will read the next book to continue the story. it is intriguing and i like the Lovecraftian feel to the story.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-13-19

Neutral, but curious enough for the next book.

Well written, am curious for the next book as it's a three part series... in hope for some action. Overall, it was interesting and I liked it.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-22-19

Excellent for insomnia

Did not like the book, will not finish, very dull story. The narrator far better performer than novel. Wasted money on my part.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Sonya Holmes
  • Sonya Holmes
  • 12-06-18

Clumsy gibberish

Charmless nonsense read as if it were an instruction manual. Difficult to finish, but mercifully short.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • David
  • 08-28-18

watch the film

got the book because I enjoyed the film. Bit of an error. Found it a bit flat, and not very stimulating. I actually struggled to finish it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Brenten
  • Brenten
  • 07-26-18

amazing book with an amazing performance

At first as I listened to the book, I thought the narrator sounded a little uninterested. however this does not last long and soon becomes one of the best books I have listened to, which is out of quite a few!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Merlin
  • Merlin
  • 07-23-18

Weird SciFi at it's best

Great narrator and a wonderfully hallucinatory and intriguing narrative. The author has the great skill of not attempting to over explain the inexplicable...