Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

By:  Jeff VanderMeer
published by:  FSG Originals
publish date:  February 4, 2014

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer. This is the twelfth expedition. Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

This book turned out to be totally not what I was expecting it to be.  I was expecting something vaguely post-apocalyptic, something kind of science-y.  This book ended up being really strange and really science fiction.  It reminded me a lot of YA dystopians where the population lives in seclusion and then they have to go "out there" and "out there" is totally crazy because of some wacky government conspiracy.  Arclight by Josin McQuein is probably the closest book I can think of that's somewhat similar.

It's about this expedition, the last in a succession of many, to go into this zone to check out what's going on.  Their mission is somewhat vague, just to kinda poke around and find the lighthouse and see what's changed since the last expedition.  They find all these strange plants that spell words and it's all really bizarre and trippy.  Then they start dying and it just gets more weird from there.

While this book was kind of odd and I was disappointed it's the first in a series, it wasn't a bad read.  I would recommend it to the sci-fi readers.  The post-ap and dystopian crowd might like it too, it seemed to have a bit of that air about it too.

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