Annihilation

Annihilation

Book - 2014
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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 a biologist, who is our narrator. 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. They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers--they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding--but it's the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.
Publisher: London : 2014 Fourth Estate,
ISBN: 9780007550692
Branch Call Number: AF VAND

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From Library Staff

Natalie Portman stars as a biologist that signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don't apply.


From the critics


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s
stewstealth
May 13, 2018

A haunting narrative that is overly descriptive with no characterization except for the protagonist. The author conveys a chilling environment but not much logic(Even in the "real world") and we get no explanation for Area X ( A stupid name). As this book is quite short and published in the same year as the two other installments it is possible that when the trilogy is completed there is some sort of payoff. Hard to say at this point if it is worth reading.

j
JLMason
May 11, 2018

This short book is a hard-to-put-down, compelling read, well-paced in its gradual revelation of new information. Through the precise, detached first person account of the mission’s biologist, we see her interpretation of the phenomena in the familiar, but alien landscape in an abandoned area somewhere in the southern US (or maybe not!). Aspects of her behaviour (she has characteristics of Asperger’s) and of her past make us believe that she has unique abilities to understand and withstand the peculiar manifestations of Area X. The only troubling aspect of the story line is why the series of teams sent into the area are misled in their briefing and preparation. Many mysteries remain at the end, setting up the second instalment of the trilogy.

p
Pipthekat
May 07, 2018

This book started off slow, but by the end of the book, I was sad that it was over. It was a surprisingly good read.

For those who have watched the movie, either the director or the screen writer said that they had only read a couple chapters. So yes, it is different from the movie.

l
lecopaw
May 05, 2018

This was the longest short book I have read. If you enjoy endlessly contemplating your navel, this one's for you. I may or may not read the other two books of the series, or perhaps I already have, or thought perhaps that I should, but then again maybe it was only a whisper of a longing unobtainable or seen in a dream that dissolved within upon itself in another life made of this place in the depths of the tower.

DPLchandra Apr 26, 2018

Wait. What? Was that...? No. Wait. WHAT? This is one of those novels that when you finish, you're not quite sure what you read. Do not read this expecting everything to make sense, or to be neatly wrapped up in a tidy bow. Dreamlike fantasy/sci-fi. Weird. But good. But definitely weird.

c
chriscoleman
Apr 11, 2018

Annihilation is the first in a trilogy of novellas called the Southern Reach Trilogy. These three novellas are about Area X, a large area that encompasses the Tallahassee, Florida area of our southern coastline. The novella is completely different from the film starring Natalie Portman. Frankly I find the film much better. The novella is much darker and does not have any kind of happy ending. This contains spoilers.

Five women are recruited for a top secret mission into Area X, the location of a natural disaster which has rendered an area of the US along the southern coastline unfit for permanent residence. A top secret government agency called the Southern Reach manages this area and has recruited for and authorized 12 expeditions in the past three years to see if the area is now habitable. Knowing this, five women volunteer and are prescreened to go: the psychologist (leader of the team), the surveyor (ex-military), the biologist, the anthropoligist, and the linguist. They are told not to learn each others' names and only to refer to each other by their skills. They are also systematically conditioned before entering Area X to become hypnotized under certain verbal phrases spoken by the psychologist. Already, the tale is pretty sinister. They are told that they are the 12th expedition. The 2nd expedition killed themselves and the 3rd expedition killed each other so they are not allowed to carry weapons except for small knives. The surveyor, however, is permitted to carry an automatic rifle with scope. A handgun for each person along with a couple of rifles are contained within a lock box that only the psychologist may open. They are told to only record their observations and not their feelings and then they are sent in. As they approach the border, they notice the linguist is missing and they're told she chickened out and isn't coming. So there are four who enter the breach.

The story is told from the viewpoint of the biologist who has always been a loner and has secretly come to find out what her dead husband experienced. He volunteered for Area X two years as part of the 11th expedition, was gone for a year, then turned up at home with no explanation or memory of how he got there. He was obviously brainwashed and acted like a zombie which frightened her so she called the government phone number he told her to call in case of emergency. Black ops military personnel from Area X descend on their home and take him to Area X where he is put under observation. She goes with him. There he is diagnosed with systemic cancer in his entire body. He dies six months later. She discovers that ALL of the 11th expedition died of cancer.

The four women are hypnotized by the psychologist in order to cross into the breach. (The shrink even hypnotizes herself.) At base camp they prepare to check out the lighthouse only they discover a tunnel before reaching the lighthouse. This was the purpose of their visit all along. As they descend into the tunnel they see written words sticking out from the side of the wall. Upon closer examination the biologist realizes these are a network of fungi. As she's examining them the fungi open and spray her with spores. She gets the group out of there but never tells them that she was infected. What she does discover is that the infection makes her immune to the effects of hypnosis. And that's when the story gets really sinister.

a
Alfred367
Apr 09, 2018

I am among the minority of commenters who found this boring. None of the characters behave in a believable manner, even so far as I can tell before they enter Area X. The long expositions of a narrator of questionable sanity can be tedious to follow unless you are committed to the series.

This is not science fiction, except to people who don't distinguish between science fiction, fantasy, and mysticism.

Needless to say,I am abandoning the trilogy.

s
Sam_Stewart
Apr 07, 2018

four female scientists travel to Area X were anything could happen. This science fiction thriller was so interesting I couldn't put it down. Can't wait to read the rest of the series.

l
LNFurman
Mar 30, 2018

This book is led by a... frankly mentally unstable character who isn't entirely sure of what is real and what isn't, and many questions are formed from her instability. Over all a great read.

marycatlyons Mar 30, 2018

A very different read. It's not written in the traditional style and may leave some readers a bit lost and hurt at times as we can't trust our narrator. But I would say it's worth at least one read. It gives you quite a few things to think about that's for sure.

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Pipthekat
May 07, 2018

Pipthekat thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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Apr 07, 2018

Sam_Stewart thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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Jun 23, 2015

red_cobra_341 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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