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By Andrew Lovett-Barron
Published in Reading
April 12, 2021
1 min read

I’ve recently signed up for a service called Readwise, which is surfacing and reminding me of books I read years ago. So there may be some half-remembered bits here.

Annihilation and the other books in the Southern Reach trilogy — Authority and Acceptance — create a kind of haze overtop of the richly described and completely unique world of Area X — an unknown and inaccessible haze that dropped over a small area of the American south. Across the three books, you’re broadly following the exploits of different individuals and vantage points, experiencing the mystery of this place.

This book is a visual delight. It takes you down richly described environments with just enough description and context to facilitate an image — but not so much that the image is obvious. Vandermeer’s use of descriptors instead of names is a good example of this — forcing the reader to construct their own understanding and bias of the characters, as they descend into a kind of unknown.

I’m also one of the folks who appreciated the movie. I watched it after reading the books, and while the story doesn’t feel all that right, the overall vibe — somehow both oppressive and inviting; ominous and beautiful — is wonderfully captured. The two can be appreciated for their own merit.

All I can say is read this book — at least the first. Annihilation grabbed me completely and served as a fascinating basis for exploring a mystery, a region, and ultimately identity across a number of vectors.


southern reachannihilationjeff vandermeer
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Andrew Lovett-Barron

Software Designer and Researcher

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