Paperback - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Area X has claimed the lives of members of eleven expeditions. The twelfth expedition consisting of four women hopes 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.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014
Edition: First Edition
ISBN: 9780374104092
Branch Call Number: VanderMeer, J
Characteristics: 195 pages ; 19 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Feb 21, 2018

On the book...
Annihilation is a throwback in both style and themes to early 20th century horror and fantasy novels by writers such as H.P. Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany and Clark Ashton Smith in both themes and styles. Which means Annihilation--the title fairly screams "action"--will likely puzzle and frustrate many early 21st century readers.

Four women embark on a government expedition into the mysterious coastal lands called Area X, the 11th such expedition at least (there may actually have been more.) The organic mysteries that put them on the trail are revealed, very, very slowly. Once upon an era, this is what kept readers flipping pages. Today, in the era of tweet, this literary conceit is likely to cause many readers--including you--to flip the entire book instead and simply search elsewhere for quick adrenaline hits.

Very little "action" takes place in the first third of the story. Instead, internal dialogue through the first-person narrative of the biologist gives us speculation, reflection, explanation and other musings, such as this one: "...I have neglected to mention some details about the brightness. My reason for this is, again, the hope that any reader's initial opinion in judging my objectivity might not be influenced by these details." How...academic!

Admit I got fidgety myself. Like members of the expedition, I just kept going... We are rewarded around the half-way mark in the book.

This is the first of three novels in the author Vandermeer's Southern Reach Trilogy. I wasn't sure I'd bother with the next two until just near the end of this first instalment. I'm sure now. I'll be packing up for my second visit to Area X soon...

On the movie:
Some commenters mention the new feature film: "Super excited about the upcoming movie!" and, "I can't wait to see what the movie is like!"

My guess, based on the medium and the trailer: it'll be much different than the book. That's not "bad" or "good", just different. Thoughts, fears and nuance don't always translate well in a visual medium. The book's sub-plot--the relationship of biologist with her husband--is almost an afterthought in the book, but is possibly much more of a presence, in the movie, possibly even the rationale she undertakes the expedition. Again: it's easier to do this, visually. From what I see in the trailer, no subtlety as they enter Area X!

I'm happy the director is Alex Garland, a relative newcomer, who's first feature, Ex Machina was one of the best Sci-fi films so far this century. Lots of nuance in that movie, so here's hoping...

Jan 28, 2018

Amazing book that keeps you drawn in the entire time. I felt as if i was watching everything play out in front of me, which I sadly don't get often from books. Can't wait to finish the trilogy.

Jan 25, 2018

The first book in the "Southern Reach" trilogy. I've read plenty of reader's reviews about how "boring" this book is. I found it quite the opposite of boring. I enjoyed the ambiguity and the feeling of dread that was pervasive throughout the story. I don't think it's a typical Sci-Fi narrative. Maybe more character driven than most of this genre.

Jan 23, 2018

Really pleased with this book. "Science fiction" is a little out of my wheelhouse, but I do love a dystopia. I found the pace quick and exciting. Can't say the same for Book 2 though... Super excited about the upcoming movie!

Jan 02, 2018

Lyrical and strange and wonderful. I loved the unreliability of the narrator, the mystery of Area X, and the sense of horror as more and more was uncovered. Can't wait to continue with the series and see the movie.

Dec 13, 2017

Whatever the author was trying for doesn't even come close to working. Neither interesting or enjoyable.

AL_TARINA Nov 13, 2017

The surprising winner of the 2015 Nebula Award. A nearly pointless read that tries very hard to be the science fiction version of "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. It was also quite clear the author was trying to channel Arthur C. Clarke; unfortunately what worked for Clarke and McCarthy does not work here and the author comes off as unable, or perhaps unwilling, to give any definitive, believable statements. If you're more into atmospheric stories that refuse to tie up loose ends you may enjoy this book, however if you're looking for solid plot progression, explanations, and answers I would suggest steering clear of this book.

SCL_Justin Oct 23, 2017

This is the story of a scientific expedition, where the scientists have no names because they'll all be dead soon enough anyway. It was a creepy story of the psychology of people who are better off alone, the observers of nature, and how they are manipulated. It was deeply creepy and compelling, reminding me of Stanislaw Lem's Solaris or Peter Watts' Starfish

Highly recommended, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

Frustratingly ambiguous, yet addictive. It made me uncomfortable in all the right ways.

Cynthia_N Sep 20, 2017

I picked this up because I read it is going to be made into a movie. Very weird book (is it a tower or a tunnel?) and I can't wait to see what the movie is like! Current release date is February 2018.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

strangegazelle Jul 07, 2017

strangegazelle thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jun 19, 2017

VladTheGreen thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Feb 24, 2017

blairl thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Jun 23, 2015

red_cobra_341 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at MPL

To Top