If you haven’t tried a VanderMeer book yet, give them a try. They are unlike any other sci-fi book I’ve read recently. I initially tried Borne many months ago and it just didn’t work for me. I decided to give it another try on audiobook and through that experience, I realized that I had the tone of the book completely wrong. Borne is supposed to be fun and lighthearted at the beginning but increases in seriousness but hopeful as it progresses. I took the book way to serious on the very first page. Anyway, a good book, though I thought the last act was a bit off in a way I can’t really explain.
I have to admit, going into Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot. I knew it was weird and I knew that sometimes new weird stuff just doesn’t work for me but I was really into this small book. The only thing I knew about this was that my sci-fi friends loved it and there was an Area X with some weirdness going on. I wonder how many times I’ll type weird in this review? Anyway, right away, at the very beginning, I knew I was going to like this book because no character had a name.
Yep, that’s right, no character had a name, and I thought that was fantastic. Each character had a specific job they had to do on the expedition to this Area X, but they were forbidden to share their names. I realized that this was a huge red flag, “these people gonna die,” moment, haha. The reader follows the biologist and her plant-loving, creepy crawly loving ways. What is also really great about this book is that every character is a woman. Something fascinating happens when the women don’t have names and just careers/disciplines, you see them as their roles in the group and not just the women in a story. I loved this decision by VanderMeer.
I don’t want to get too much into this book because I think the enjoyment comes from experiencing it. I did want some more background about or biologist because those parts of the story were so incredibly interesting to me. Maybe I’ll get more of that in the sequels. I never knew where the story was going to go and it had an atmosphere of dread and suffocation that I really dug while reading. It didn’t hurt that VanderMeer can really write extremely well. I was impressed with VanderMeer’s writing and he just got a fan for life.
I really liked this book and I ordered the second book the day after finishing this one from the library system. Excited to unlock more secrets of Area X. This book is a solid 4.5 for me with a perfect writing score.
20/25 Possible Score
4 – Plot
4 – Characters
4 – World Building
5 – Writing Style
3 – Heart & Mind Aspect