I’ve been a bit naughty with regards to my reading list. So my husband has been telling me how good the Southern Reach series was since shortly after it came out, but with my reading list as over-full as it is, I couldn’t quite justify bringing the series forward. Cut to the New Year, and we found out that the series has been adapted into a film. My husband was utterly bewildered by this turn of events, and is determined to see it to find out just how they’ve gone about adapting what is apparently a very weird series. So now I have until late February to finish the series in time to see the movie adaptation.
Annihilation follows a nameless biologist as she enters a strange place known as Area X as part of a scientific expedition. Little is known about the area beyond that there was an apparent environmental disaster, despite the apparent lushness of the ecosystems there. The members of the all-female expedition have been given the seemingly simple task of charting the land and taking samples of anything unusual. But it soon starts falling apart, starting with the discovery of an unmapped tunnel right near their base camp. Having just read Annihilation, I can kind of see why my husband was so confused about the trailer. While there is a lot that comes up that could be seen as scary, both with regards to the secrets that are revealed about the authorities behind the expeditions and the weird creatures that call Area X home, I think it’s the kind of scary that is very difficult to translate to film. It’s the kind of slow burn that most directors avoid, and it wasn’t in evidence in the trailer that I’ve seen.
As to the actual book itself, I absolutely loved it, but it’s a bit of a shock to the system after a lot of fairly standard novels. There’s surprisingly little character interaction, and what there is is very detached and clinical due to the introverted nature of the biologist. It ends up being strangely claustrophobic in tone, as there is no secondary viewpoint to balance her out and her clear disinterest and difficulties regarding social interactions only makes her more isolated as a narrator. She’s an intriguing voice to follow if nothing else. As for the plot, I probably couldn’t say if I actually know what’s going on in Area X, but I am hoping that the next installments of the series will be a bit more illuminating.
Seriously weird and claustrophobic, I would heartily recommend this if you’re happy with a slow burn and not much in the way of answers for now. The narrator is refreshingly introverted, although I appreciate it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. 5/5 Next review: Authority by Jeff VanderMeer