Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer


Desolation tries to colonize you.

What it’s about: An expedition of four unnamed female scientists ventures into the mysterious Area X, where a catastrophic but unknown event occurred, resulting in the disappearance of all the people who lived there and the emergence of a strange environment with even stranger wildlife.

What I liked about it: I used to be a superfan of the TV show Lost until it broke my heart. If there was ever a book that does what Lost tried to do, and does it successfully, it is Annihilation. Area X, like the island, is a weird, unsettling, indefinable place where disquieting things happen that cannot be explained. Those who venture into it are irrevocably changed. The atmosphere in this book is thick and growing thicker. The reader is affected as well, drawn in alongside the biologist, whose journal we are reading, as she discovers that Area X is much different than she had been led to believe, while also gradually revealing the strange connection she has to the place. Though Annihilation doesn’t attempt to explain away its mysteries, it does show them to the reader, and pretty quickly too. We are not allowed neat and tidy explanations. Instead we see a person succumbing to the (otherworldly?) mystery that is Area X. Clearly, there is a sequel to read, but I was still satisfied with the ending of this book. This is, in my opinion, a horror novel, and it is very effective at building disquiet in the reader, as well as a sense that reality is fundamentally untrustworthy. A quick and entrancing read.

Who might like it: Readers of weird fiction who don’t mind a bit of ambiguity in exchange for a lot of atmosphere.


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