Arts + Culture » Literary

Annihilation

by Jeff VanderMerr (FSG Originals)

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Annihilation is the first volume in Jeff VanderMeer's sci-fi Southern Reach trilogy (all three books are being released this year). One back cover blurb compares VanderMeer to Stanley Kubrick and it's easy to see it with VanderMeer's distant but unsettling writing style. Content-wise he's closer to Lovecraft, with his characters slowly breaking down as they encounter the unknowable. In Annihilation the unknowable is Area X, a sealed off stretch of land slowly mutating into something alien, and the members of expedition team 12 are the poor bastards charged with mapping it out. The book is tightly suspenseful but loses momentum if you put it down and come back to it later. It's best to read it as quickly as possible, which isn't too hard as it's less than 200 pages. While it works as a standalone novel the pull of the writing is so strong it's hard not to pick up the next volume as soon as you finish the first one.

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