Book Review: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

“There are certain kinds of deaths that one should not be expected to relieve, certain kinds of connections so deep that when they are broken you feel the snap of the link inside you”

-Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation

It’s the twelfth expedition into Area X and this time only four people were sent in, a biologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor and a psychologist. The expedition seems to be going well when the team discovered a tunnel of some sort or a tower as the biologist would call it. However this tunnel raised some questions as it was not marked on their maps as well as it is embedded into the earth. As the team try to unravel the mystery behind the tunnel they too discover secrets among themselves.

This book is a bit of a hit and miss, sometimes it’s great and really absorbing, sometimes you just can’t help but roll your eyes. That said, it’s still an interesting read. The book starts off with the biologist narrating the story. It is written in first person and I’ve always liked first person narratives so I thought it would be an engaging book. The team is composed of four women, and as mentioned before they have their own respective roles. Unfortunately the writing on them is mediocre as they are one dimensional, except for the biologist as we read through her narrative. But their personalities are bounded by their roles and we never see any character development among them.

The story is sometimes difficult to follow as a lot of it is made up of the biologist’s metaphors and internal monologues, where once it goes back to the story you might have forgotten where you left of. Another complaint is the use of words on the book, a lot of the words are hard to comprehend. For example

“why others had followed suit until it had become as inexorable as a long-ingrained ritual. By what impulse, what shared fatalism?

Unfortunately there are a lot of these phrases within the book and it does take you out of it.

The story though is intriguing there are a lot of mysteries in this book and a lot of them are unanswered, hoping the sequels will answer them, but they are exciting and it makes you want to read on. Area X is fascinating and you do want to figure out what is up with this place. A lot of the book deals with a person’s psyche as well as the horrors of hypnotism and they are played out well within the book. There are times where you are completely absorbed into a monologue or into an event only to be taken out by an unnecessary flashback.

Overall Annihilation is OK for a first book on a trilogy. It sets events up for the sequels and it leaves enough to keep you wondering what else is there. For 200 pages the book is fairly short, however with irregular pacing and confusing words the book proved to be a challenging read. Recommended for people who are into psychological thrillers.

Rating: 2.5/5