Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. Annihilation, Authority and Acceptance

Format: Paperback

Pages: 195, 340, 341

Series: The Southern Reach Trilogy

Source: Library

Genres: Science Fiction

Publisher: HarperCollins Canada

Publication date: Through February 4th to September 2nd, 2014

The beauty of it cannot be understood, either and when you see the beauty in desolation it changes something inside you.

First impression

When I first approached the Southern Reach trilogy, I did it with almost everyone praising it, talking how weird it was. The Sword and Laser Book club had it as their February pick and that’s when I decided to definitely give it a go. Weird, you bet: with a lot of things going on, shifting POV from the first to the second and then in the third having a mix of about 4 of them there is a lot going on and this (at least in my case) makes you want to continue reading, even if just to know what exactly is going on down in Area X.

However, because off all the buildup, when I got to book 3, my expectations where pretty high. I wanted a mind blowing conclusion…and it just wasn’t what I got, which is why I ended up giving just a 3/5 to the last book. It was a closing, but almost a predictable one, and what I was liking about the other 2 books was exactly how unpredictable they felt.

People who asked questions didn’t necessarily liked being asked questions

Final thoughts

One thing I have to say for VanderMeer is that he is a terrific storyteller. All through the trilogy I would read and read without noticing how much time I had spent just siting turning pages. He writes in a manner that grabs you and won’t let you go. All of the characters are flawed, all of them have secrets and he presents them in manner that you cannot help but to want to know what else are they hiding, from the reader and even from their selves.

Annihilation is written as a diary, and it sets the story in Area X. We get to know the premise, the mystery of the area, but not the reasons behind it. A lot of people have complained that it can be too descriptive, being told in the eyes of a biologist, but maybe precisely because of this I found it fascinating. A world described in a biologist tone is always fascinating for me (yes, I am a biologist). Acceptance on the other hand, is told in the voice or at least through the eyes of Control, a government agent (?) that is now in charge of the division studying Area X. He will give more background not only to the Area but to the characters that were briefly introduced in the first book while at the same time, revealing deep issues of himself. By the time you are reading Acceptance some of the pieces have fallen into place but still, the whole image is a fractured one, and so this last installment jumps back and forward in time, to at the end merge altogether with the final reveal.

However, this reveal of sorts, didn’t cut it for me. I won’t give anything away, since this is a review for the whole series, but I felt that the “conclusion” lost impact. It felt, for lack of a better word, like a “meh” moment, which is sad when you are so invested and so intrigued by the other 2 books.

I’m not saying that it’s not an entertaining and well-built work. I would still recommend it to people looking for something different, merging SciFi and mystery. I would just recommend to keep the final expectations a bit lower. Maybe in that case, others won’t feel disappointed as I unfortunately felt.

Some things you can be so close to that you never grasp their true nature

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