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Authority (Southern Reach #2)

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  20,639 Ratings  ·  2,499 Reviews
The bone-chilling, hair-raising second installment of the Southern Reach Trilogy

After thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X--a seemingly malevolent landscape surrounded by an invisible border and mysteriously wiped clean of all signs of civilization--has been a series of expeditions overseen by a government agency so secret it has almost been forgotten: the S
Paperback, 341 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by FSG Originals (first published May 2014)
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Sara Mazzoni Part Two ends with Chapter 18 and Part Three starts with 000 (again, like the first chapter); then there is Chapter 020. Chapter 019 is missing.

Part Two ends with Chapter 18 and Part Three starts with 000 (again, like the first chapter); then there is Chapter 020. Chapter 019 is missing.

There are two Chapter 000, they both tell about a dream the main character has about the sea – the place where he goes in the finale, I assume. In the second Chapter 000 his point of view has changed, he's now inside the ocean, looking up at someone who may be himself or somebody else. In the finale he jumps into the water, probably entering the Area X (or maybe he's already inside but he doesn't know...). The final chapter has no number.

The chapter preceding the final part is 00X. I guess it means now the Area X is spreading, and we cannot use human numbers anymore. Time itself is bending, Control experiences that several times; the reader experiences that too when chapter 000 appears again.

Where did Chapter 019 go? Good question. I guess it got sucked into the Area X.(less)
Dan Schuna The entire trilogy is amazing. The focus and tone of the story shift dramatically between the first and second books. I read these as they were…moreThe entire trilogy is amazing. The focus and tone of the story shift dramatically between the first and second books. I read these as they were released and am re-reading them already, less than a year later. HIGHLY recommended.(less)

Community Reviews

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May 11, 2014 Richard rated it it was ok
I can't give this more than 2 stars because the center of the book drags along like a sacked brick. I tried and tried to get into it, but I couldn't remain interested.

It just doesn't need 200 pages to get across the idea of the Southern Reach. Relationships barely develop past the first meetings and the whole thing feels stuck. I guess this mirrors the feelings the main characters are supposed to be experiencing in the least fun way possible.

None of the little mysteries really go anywhere exciti
Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 13, 2014 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
”In the black water with the sun shining at midnight, those fruit shall come ripe and in the darkness of that which is golden shall split open to reveal the revelation of the fatal softness in the earth.”

 photo AreaX_zps424bf064.jpg

John A.K.A. Control has been made director of The Southern Reach Facility. The last director finagled her way onto the last expedition into Area X and has never been seen or heard from again. The assistant director doesn’t only dislike him, but is working actively to undermine him. I’ve been in
Jun 06, 2014 Carmen rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone

"Imagine a situation, John, in which you are trying to contain something dangerous. But you suspect that containment is a losing game. That what you want to contain is escaping slowly, inexorably. That what seems impermeable is, in fact, over time, becoming very permeable. That the divide is more perforated than unperforated. And that whatever this thing is seems to want to destroy you but has no leader to negotiate with, no stated goals of any kind."

Control, also known by his
Sep 05, 2014 Carol. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Recommended for fans of metaphors, slow-moving puzzles

If Annihilation reminded me of Jeanette Winterson’s writing, then Authority reminded me of Kafka, but not the interesting Kafka, one of the boring ones, which surely if I say which one, my dear friends are going to quickly assure me that I’m quite wrong and there is no way Kafka could ever be boring with such Big Ideas. So maybe I don’t mean Kafka. Maybe I mean one of those other stodgy old writers from Advanced English who was clearly writing about the Human Condition in Big Fat Metaphors. Mayb
Richard Derus
Nov 14, 2015 Richard Derus rated it liked it
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: After thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X--a seemingly malevolent landscape surrounded by an invisible border and mysteriously wiped clean of all signs of civilization--has been a series of expeditions overseen by a government agency so secret it has almost been forgotten: the Southern Reach. Following the tumultuous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the agency is in complete disarray.

John Rodrigues (aka "Control") is the South
Jul 25, 2015 Stuart rated it did not like it
Holy crap, this book was unbearable! I'm trying to think of something good to say about this book...and failing. It reminds me of an unholy blend of the final season of Lost, The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, The Office, and Waiting for Godot. Endless trivial descriptions of bureaucracy, oblique dead-end details, and an obstinate refusal to further the plot in any way, other than with fruitless clues. It seems that fans of Annihilation were enthralled by the ominous Lovcraftian horror of Are ...more
May 15, 2014 Roblee rated it did not like it
The author, evidently paid by the word, tells a very long and atmospheric tale, approximately 200 pages overlong. An intriguing last few chapters and ending could stand alone as prelude to the final book.
Jan 05, 2015 Fabian rated it it was ok
An important cardinal rule of trilogies is broken with "Authority," Book 2 of the Southern Reach Trilogy. That which states that the second tome must build something out of the previous one, that its limits are expanded, that the adventure is transmogrified to its very apex (see, Star Wars episode 5, Godfather 2, "Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord" in Louis de Bernieres' Latin American trilogy... heck, even Catching Fire was the better of all the Hunger Games books). "Authority" does none of this--it ...more
Apr 26, 2016 Sheila rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
2.5 stars (somewhere between "meh" and "I liked it").

This is a middle book and it shows. The last 20% of this book is great--full of action. But you have to slog through the first 80% to get there. Specifically, what I didn't care for:

* I couldn't connect with the narrator.
* Repetitive, slow-moving plot.
* Instead of answers about Area X (Lovecraftian monsters? Aliens? A parallel dimension?), this is a book about government conspiracy/bureaucracy.

What I wanted was to find out what was going on a
Apr 09, 2014 Melki rated it liked it
About thirty-two years ago, along a remote southern stretch known as the "forgotten coast," an Event occurred that began to transform the landscape and simultaneously caused an invisible border or wall to appear.

The women seem to recall little about Area X. They say almost nothing about what they saw and what happened to them during their expedition. John Rodriquez/Control is tasked with finding the facts.

"What do you remember about your husband?"

"That I had one."

"Did you know he came back, lik
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)

I’m betting, if you’re like me, you had a ton of questions at the end of the wonderful ANNIHILATION. If so, you’ll be glad to know that Authority answers quite a few of them. Not all, but a few, and it’s a perfect filling in the sandwich of awesome that is the Southern Reach trilogy. Authority picks up a few months after the disastrous events of Annihilation and the biologist is in the custody of Southern Reach after being found standing in an empty parkin
The Floor beneath his shoes was grimy, almost sticky. The fluorescent lights above flickered at irregular intervals, and the tables and chairs seemed like something out of a high school cafeteria. He could smell the sour metal tang of a low quality cleaning agent, almost like rotting honey. The room did not inspire confidence in the Southern Reach.

Far from the formidable, shadowy, mysterious organization it was portrayed as in Annihilation, the Southern Reach is actually a painfully prosaic go
Jul 27, 2015 Brad rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, mystery
Honestly, I wanted to stay longer in Area X, not get relegated to an almost sterile administration building for most of the novel.

Control (the man, not the action) didn't even really begin to grow on me until well-past half-way mark. At least there were elements of spy-fiction, but in all honesty, the conflict in the novel was rather too light.

I know we're not supposed to have answers in this kind of novel. I don't really expect them. It's all about the journey and cultivating a sense of wonder
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Mar 03, 2014 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it really liked it
I read this book twice. I was 1/3 of the way through in the print and downloaded the audio because it is read by Bronson Pinchot, who I think is amazing. After finishing the book in audio, I went back and re-read the last 2/3, kind of backwards, starting from the last section and then deciding I should go ahead and re-read all of it to see what I had missed. I'm glad I did as there was a key scene I must have drifted off from in the audio.

Area X is scary and still very unknown when this installa
Mar 26, 2014 Lauren rated it liked it
This book was frustrating to read. I did not find Control as intriguing a viewpoint character as the biologist, and he spent the vast majority of this book running from place to place not finding any answers. There were occasional moments that were engaging, such as Control's interviews with "the biologist", and much of the last quarter of the book. I still think that Vandermeer's writing is fantastic, and the creepy moments in the book are genuinely creepy, I just wish that the book had spent l ...more
Apr 30, 2014 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2014
5 Stars

Authority by Jeff Vandermeer, book two in the Southern Reach series is a fantastic read. This book is not your typical middle novel as it is a very different book from Annihilation. Vandermeer continues to prove to me what an amazing author that he is, versatile, verbose, and a gift for painting the vivid picture.

Control is the star of this book and it takes place almost exclusively at the Southern Reach. This book is more of a mystery and a puzzle to solve than the adventure that was boo
David Katzman
Apr 30, 2014 David Katzman rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: lovers of highly crafted language, fantasy, horror, psychological drama, mystery...
An unsettling study of the ineffable. The indescribable. A slowly constricting knot. Our human edifices are evanescent. Or as I say in my novel A Greater Monster , "A home is paper thin."

Nature is a harsh taskmistress. Nature is implacable. We have been playing with fire for a long time now. Humans think they own the land. The clouds. The air. The water. We do not own it. It owns us. We've been borrowing it without paying back the principal. And it's going to come due soon.

Authority is the seco
There seems to be a trend, the last few years, and I'm rather liking it: in 2012, I found a couple of authors who got me very much on side with (what feels like) a new wave of fast-talking, clever fantasy. In 2013, I discovered that 'literary fiction' is a broader category than I thought it was, and more importantly, it doesn't bite. It's 2014 now, and I feel like the books that are inserting themselves into my consciousness at the moment are ones that play with the rules of genre, of sci-fi, of ...more
Nov 19, 2014 Steve rated it it was amazing
The border was coming to the Southern Reach.

Authority pretty much picks up where Annihilation left off, but not in a way that I could have anticipated. It turns out that the "psychologist" from book one, was also the director of the Southern Reach -- a scientific and military complex near the border of the mysterious Area X. All the public has been told about Area X is that an environmental accident occurred there, and that it is off-limits. The new director, John Rodriguez, tells the demoralize
Kristen Shaw
Wow, is all I can say about this trilogy so far. At times I thought I was veering towards liking Authority more than Annihilation, but really, both are immensely interesting books with their own pleasures. The strongest aspect of Authority, for me, is the slow build of tension. The pacing is absolutely terrific, making it difficult to put down. A lot of typical "horror" novels are a let down in this regard - they promise a great reveal which is usually disappointing. Authority doesn't disappoint ...more
I liked the narration but this story isn't working well for me. I'm playing with the idea of not reading the last one at all.

I probably will though, because I feel the need to finish the series after investing all this time.
Jun 22, 2014 S.A. rated it liked it
I give the cover five stars. It really is the best thing about the novel. Damned fine cover.

For some reason I have the overwhelming feeling that this Southern Reach Trilogy was at one time an entire novel. It feels like it was split into three for a better marketing angle. I could be dead wrong, but there's something odd about the whole set-up.

No matter, I enjoyed this book. It didn't make me sit up and scream in pleasure. There's something about the story that's still not clicking with me. Par
•KEE ᴛʜᴇ FREE •
This was a polarizing installment of the Southern Reach Trilogy, and for very valid reasons. I heard such praises about this trilogy for a while, and I was very happy buying the complete series in one swoop last year. When I finally decided to start reading, I was incredibly intrigued by the atmosphere and premise of it especially with the first book Annihilation which definitely gave me some Lost-esque vibes. That being said, this next book Authority was nothing like its predecessor. There is a ...more
Feb 22, 2015 Nikki rated it really liked it
Coming after Annihilation, this book seems to make so much more sense, to be begin with. There are still aspects of mystery, confusion, and not just around Area X — there’s missing time, people who haven’t even been to Area X seeming contaminated by it, etc, etc. But the horror is muffled, the adventure is muffled, and instead it becomes more of a spy story, a sci-fi story. Still a mystery story, but a different kind of drive to the narrative.

Don’t kid yourself for a moment that’s actually going
Dec 20, 2015 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, sci-fi, fiction
I'd imagine that this is the most divisive book in the Southern Reach trilogy (though it wouldn't shock me if some weren't fans of the last installment). Very little happens in this book, to be honest. Any readers looking for answers are going to be largely disappointed. But I think it's really essential to the story that VanderMeer is trying to tell, and the last 50-or-so pages are some of the most compelling and engrossing fiction I've read in a long time.

Authority jarringly switches gears fr
Oct 09, 2014 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read_2014
he Southern Reach trilogy is fast becoming one of my favorite reads of 2014 and I’m not yet at the conclusion. In ANNIHILATION, we were exposed to the strange and dangerous other world of Area X – terrain cut off from the rest of land by some mysterious event. We followed the latest exhibition consisting of a biologist, surveyor, psychologist, and anthropologist into the unknown and watched the breakdown of sanity in big brother-like live streaming. In AUTHORITY, the ambiguity is as abundant as ...more
May 07, 2014 Craig rated it really liked it
The second installment of the Southern Reach trilogy moves away from the eco-horror of the first novel, opting instead for a Kafkaesque tale of bureaucratic secrets, and mind control. You do get some answers, but they're the best kind of answers: ones that lead to more questions.

The novel, which examines the Southern Reach organization that oversees Area, is suffused with a sense of dread, underscored with frustration of the Cloud of Unknowing that comprises Area X. Several thematic motifs are r
Ashley Brooks
Apr 21, 2015 Ashley Brooks rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy, owned
Good heavens...this book took FOREVER to get where it was going. You could have lobbed off 100 pages and not been any the wiser.

Here's hoping it picks up in the final installment?!
Sara Mazzoni
Jan 30, 2016 Sara Mazzoni rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: weird
Tre stelline grazie alla parte finale, ma il libro nel complesso funziona poco. Il focus si sposta negli uffici della Southern Reach, fuori dal Confine. Il romanzo è più corposo rispetto al primo, che grazie all’agilità del suo formato trascinava il lettore in un’apnea weird di eccellente qualità. Qui non succede.

Le idee alla base sono troppo esili, anche se interessanti. La dilatazione delle pagine crea vuoti narrativi che si traducono nella noia del lettore. I veri movimenti arrivano solo ver
Mar 07, 2016 Giovanna rated it it was ok


Did I mention that the italian edition is gorgeous?

Authority didn't live up to my expectations to be honest. I really liked Annihilation and I was extremely curious to see where the story was going. Well, the answer is: nowhere. Until the last 40/50 pages literally nothing happened and if not for those pages this would have gotten 2 stars.

The potential is still there and I hope that the third book will be better, but I can't help but feel disappointed this time around. The plo
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Jeff VanderMeer's new novel is Borne, set for publication in late April of 2017. His most recent fiction is the NYT-bestselling Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance), all released in 2014. The series won the Shirley Jackson Award and the Nebula Award, was shortlisted for several others, and has been acquired by publishers in 32 other countries. Paramount Pictures/Scott R ...more
More about Jeff VanderMeer...

Other Books in the Series

Southern Reach (3 books)
  • Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)
  • Acceptance (Southern Reach, #3)

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“A circle looks at a square and sees a badly made circle.” 38 likes
“Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner I shall bring forth the seeds of the dead to share with the worms that gather in the darkness and surround the world with the power of their lives while from the dim-lit halls of other places forms that never could be writhe for the impatience of the few who have never seen or been seen. In the black water with the sun shining at midnight, those fruit shall come ripe and in the darkness of that which is golden shall split open to reveal the revelation of the fatal softness in the earth. The shadows of the abyss are like the petals of a monstrous flower that shall blossom within the skull and expand the mind beyond what any man can bear” 5 likes
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