Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy

Jeff VanderMeer
Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy Cover

Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy



I really loved this book. It's rare (at least for me) to find a book that is both a page-turner and a meditation. The writing is lyrical, the characterization is convincing, and the plot is engaging and creepy and dreamy. I liked the movie adaptaiton as well, but the book is a little different and well worth reading.


I can't think of another book where my expectations and the execution were more mismatched. I was so disappointed! I really loved the poetic strangeness of Annihilation, and was expecting more of the same. Instead, what i read felt like a watered-down generic Michael Crichton novel, except wihtout even much suspense or charisma. The book centers around a main character who I found totally uninteresting, if not downright unlikeable. The absurdly (and very obviously) named "Control" takes over the agency in charge of containing/monitoring/studying the mysterious Southern Reach intrdouced in Annihilation. Control, serving as a barely-inflated audience stand-in, ploddingly investigates the mysteries of the Southern Reach, interspersed with lots of flashbacks to Contorl's past, clearly intended to add depth to his milquetoast personality (and to add, a little, some extra tidbits to the superfluous backstory of the Southern reach). And in the end... frankly doesn't really discover anything really that interesting or illuminating beyond what was already presented in Annihilation. Certainly nothign that justiifed the length of the book, whcih was like 4 times longer than it needed to be. In the whole book, there were a handful of scenes that really echoed the striking weirdness that pervaded Annihilaiton. And I guess the end of the novel was necessary to set up the third installment. But overall, I didn't feel like it was worth the time I spent reading it.


So, I LOVED LOVED LOVED Annihilation, and I HATED HATED HATED Authority. This book, Acceptance, I feel neutral about. (So, it's a little like the Three Bears, except that Acceptance isn't "just right" - it's just "better than Authority.") While still falling short of the neat execution of Annihilation, Acceptance at least marked a return to more of what I liked about Annihilation. While I ddin't love the jumps between the different characters and timelines, which made the book feel unnecessariliy convoluted, I found the back story on the Southern Reach interesting enough, and in general I thought this bok had good pacing and a nicely infused sense of foreboding. I think it almost redeems the trilogy... somewhat. On the other hand, it's only worth reading if you are the kind of reader who really wants a phenomenon explained (as in, only if you have a burning desire, after reading Annihilation, to find out more of the "why" behind the Southern Reach.) If you liked Annihilation, and are content with its open-endedness, I'd suggest giving both Authority and Acceptance a miss.