Book Review: Area X:The Southern Reach Trilogy

By Friday, March 20, 2015 0 Permalink

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 Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer

Genre: Science Fiction/Speculative Fiction

Plot: “Area X—a remote and lush terrain—has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. A secret government agency called the Southern Reach, has been sending expeditions to explore the mysterious landscape. But after the twelfth expedition enters Area X, a series of events occur that changes everything.”

 Review:  This is a very ambitious book review. I will attempt to discuss not one, but THREE books, and not reveal any major spoilers….here I go. The Southern Reach trilogy is composed of three books; Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance. This series has popped up on my radar several times, but I wasn’t that interested; until the Sword and Laser book club chose “Annihilation” for February. I checked the book out from the library, and then promptly fell down the rabbit hole that is Area X.

Annihilation starts off with a team of four women entering Area X. The POV is told from the team’s biologist, who we later learn has a personal connection to Area X. The expedition quickly falls apart, after the group encounters a mysterious “tower”. Even though it is the shortest of the series, Annihilation is my favorite of the three books. It is also more “horror” than science fiction to me, with the ominous tower and creature that dwells within. But I thought the writing was fantastic, and it above all else drew me into the mystery of Area X. Heck, I ended up reading the entire book in one night!

On to Authority, the second book in the series, which I liked the least. The main character, Control, I found rather boring compared to the biologist, the main character in the first book. The story opens with Control, becoming the new director of the Southern Reach. The book focuses on the bureaucratic side of the Area X mystery. Honestly, this book should have been way shorter and less repetitive. The story ends on a cliffhanger, much like the first book, and few questions are answered. At this point, I am way too invested in this story to stop now, so I checked out the third book from the library.

Lastly, we have Acceptance, which takes a different approach by switching between various narrators and points in time. I liked that multiple POV ‘s are used, this kept the story from being too one-sided. However, this book was a GIANT tease. Throughout the story you get glimpses of answers to the multitude of questions that you have at this point.

…and then it just ends! I was totally shocked! I’m the type of reader that dislikes unresolved plots. Unfortunately, the Southern Reach  trilogy left much of the ending open to interpretation. Which, after reading all three books, I found to be the most disappointing fact about the series.

Recommendation: This series is really big in the science fiction/new weird genre, and for good reason.  Overall, I thought that the books were well written, with an extremely unique plot. I’ve honestly haven’t read anything else like it. If you like speculative fiction, and don’t mind endings without resolutions, then I would still recommend reading this otherworldly series.

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