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Annihilation (Southern Reach #1)

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  97,924 Ratings  ·  12,455 Reviews
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 eleve ...more
Paperback, 195 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Ben Hathaway The first 40% is soul-destroyingly dull. It improves marginally in patches but remains for the most part consistent in experience to going on holiday…moreThe first 40% is soul-destroyingly dull. It improves marginally in patches but remains for the most part consistent in experience to going on holiday with a group of elderly Germans to a wallpaper convention in Northern England.
Anne C. I am not autistic, nor a specialist on autism. I did, however, identify with her desire for solitude, her detached observations, and her need to be…moreI am not autistic, nor a specialist on autism. I did, however, identify with her desire for solitude, her detached observations, and her need to be self-reliant. I don't think that makes one autistic.
I also didn't find her boring, but part of that was because she is an unreliable narrator, which one of my favorite kinds of narrative strategies, because life is full of unreliable narrators.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
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Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
”...but whether it decays under the earth or above on green fields, or out to sea or in the very air, all shall come to revelation, and to revel, in the knowledge of the strangling fruit and the hand of the sinner shall rejoice, for there is no sin in shadow or in light that the seeds of the dead cannot forgive…”

 photo AreaX_zps0d11e624.jpg

An Anthropologist, a Surveyor, a Psychologist, and a Biologist, all female, make up the 12th expedition to AREA X. The expeditions that have come to this region before have not fared
May 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
I am sure that it will shock to many readers my low rating of this popular novel, but sadly I think that it's the best way to express my own personal reading experience with the book. And I prefer to be honest than just giving a high rating if I don't believe on it.

First of all, I don't hate the author and I am not looking for affecting the average rating of this novel.

Basically, I had to balance the meaning of each rating here on Goodreads against what I thought about my reading experience with
Dec 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really good books. Very different. Very atmospheric and different than anything else I've ever read.

I read part of this trilogy off the page and listened to some of it on audiobook. And looking back, I wish I'd read the entire thing off the page. I think it would have been a better overall experience that way.

Highly recommended.
Maggie Stiefvater
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommended, adult
FINE, FINE, FINE, I'm buying book 2.
Brendon Schrodinger
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, horror
Well it seems like Annihilation has divided the SF community into two, lovers and 'meh'ers. I'm pretty sure I'm one of the latter. I have been trying to think why a novel with a blurb that instantly sparked my curiousity was just so bleh. There are parts here that I love. I think the whole novel was under a cloud of boring, grey fungus spores.

While you have this wonderful premise of an expedition to a remote 'Area X' where the world is not quite right after some mysterious intervention from out
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Really a waste of time. The book seems to be going for the eerie "each man is every man" type of feeling that you got from Cormac McCarthy's "The Road," in which none of the characters have names. Here we have a small group of women, among them "the psychologist," "the surveyor," and "the biolgist" (our narrator) exploring Area X, a supernatural-type district that borders our own mundane world. I found myself completely uninvolved and not at all scared or disturbed by the team's discoveries. It ...more
I was expecting more from this book. I will read the next one at some point, mainly because I know there is a next book. If I didn't know there was one, I don't think I would have been left expecting more. The book did not really draw me in and I found it to be somewhat repetitious. All this was disappointing considering the hype I have heard about it.

But, since there are two others in the series, and the series as a whole is critically acclaimed - perhaps I will find something more as the story
Dan Schwent
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks, 2015
Four women, the twelfth such expedition, enter the mysterious Area X to observe and collect samples. Will the calamities that have befallen previous expeditions befall them as well?

I'd read four Jeff VanderMeer books prior to this one and they were all unsettling in one way or another. This one was par from the course.

Annihilation is a horror tale about secrecy, the unknown, and insanity. The biologist is the narrator and an unreliable one at that. The other characters are known only by their jo
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned, 2017, underrated
“Silence creates its own violence.”

My initial reaction: BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN

And I'm still sitting here, wondering and pondering.
This novel was spectacular in every aspect. The best books are those that keep their secrets to themselves. Those, that don't tell you everything, that make you desperate for information that you will not receive. It's the mystery that keeps one interested, the depths that you want to explore. They make your fingers tremble because you want to touch everything, know t
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
I am convinced now that I and the rest of the expedition were given access to these records for the simple reason that, for certain kinds of classified information, it did not matter what we knew or didn't know. There was only one logical conclusion: Experience told our superiors that few if any of us would be coming back.

Area X is thought to be a myth. A conspiracy theory. Something whispered about in environmental circles.

But it's real. Appearing 30 years ago and baffling everyone with its exi
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, not-for-me
2.5ish stars.

I wanted to like this, and I think I probably did - I convinced myself I did - until I realized that maybe I didn't. I finished and had to have an internal conversation with myself (much like the biologist in 90% of the book) to identify that, beneath the eerie, suspenseful surface, the feeling I was left with was, well, a vacancy of feeling. I'm down with New Weird (VanderMeer's Borne is one of my recent favorites), and I can burn with the slowest of burns, but for whatever reason
Richard Derus
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

***MOVIE UPDATE: The Alex Garland adaptation will hit theaters on 23 February 2018. Garland's 2014 debut was Ex Machina, for which he got an Academy award nomination...let's hope this means good things.***

The Publisher Says: 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
Leonard Gaya
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
A swimming pool. A rocky bay. An empty lot. A tower. A lighthouse. These things are real and not real. They exist and they do not exist.

This is one of the weirdest pieces of literature I have read in recent months. I guess this short novel is redolent of the strange fascination one sometimes feels when gazing at a heavy, sleepy pool of water, where fish and tadpoles swarm and waggle among dead weeds, and more massive creatures seem to be lurking in the dark, unfathomable depths underneath.

Area X
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Dr. Moreau + Sphere + Hunger Games + Lord of the Flies + the first half of the MaddAddam trilogy = this bizarre intro into the "Southern Reach" trilogy. There may even be some groovy transcendentalist Thoreau thrown somewhere in there! The platform here is potent enough a dose to ensure the future reading of the next novels.

May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What occurred to create Area X ? Is it an alien outpost ? Is it another dimension breaking through into ours ? The Southern Reach, the political entity in charge, is keeping it all a secret from humanity at large. Yet expeditions are put together to investigate and research it's existence. None of the previous expeditions have returned alive or have survived long after returning.

Interestingly everyone who "crosses over" must be hypnotized in order to keep them sane. The exact methodology of "cro

Welcome to Area X. Ecologically pristine. Cut off from civilization. Hostile to humans. What lurks there? Does it have a name? Will you live to tell about what you've seen? Who will believe you?

If one can be said to "do" weird, then I don't think I do it very well. Annihilation -- the first book in the Southern Reach Trilogy -- is Weird with a capital 'W' with its roots in H.P. Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood. It has a post-modern mindfuck vibe as well reminiscent of House of Leaves.

That is to
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I picked up this book at my local library because I saw the movie trailer and was intrigued. Knowing it was based on a book, I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie.

Four women, an Anthropologist, a Surveyor, a Psychologist, and a Biologist (the narrator) make up the 12th expedition to AREA X. They do not share their names - names aren't necessary, their research is the most important thing these women need to focus on while in Area X. Area X is an area which has been cut off from the r
l a i n e y
By the time we were ready to cross the border, we knew everything... and we knew nothing

(Basically the description of yours truly’s feeling after reading the last page of Annihilation)

Ok I need a sixth sense in order to really ‘get’ this book it seems. (view spoiler) And since I unfortunately don’t have that, I cannot say I enjoyed this book more than a
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, sci-fi, biopunk
So I went to the Natural History Museum in NYC and watched a wonderful IMAX film about the wonders of the ocean world, the horrors of a living coral reef, and animals that more properly resembled plant life. One life form slowly devours another, using all the myriad tricks of evolution, from symbiosis and natural selection, to rise, unerringly, to be the top of the food chain.

I felt like I just read a SF/Horror hybrid that was just narrated by Jacques Cousteau, full of even and progressive prose
Ɗắɳ  2.☊
I don’t know why I was feeling so generous when I initially slapped a two-star rating on this book. Perhaps I was still riding the high of Paradise Sky, or perhaps I was willing to ignore some of my annoyance due to the brevity of the story. But whatever the case may be, it’s time to rectify that error because, overall, this was a pretty awful reading experience.

Annihilation recounts the twelfth expedition into the mysterious Area X—an ecologically devastated swampland in the southern United St
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The first thing I noticed on the staging level before we reached the wider staircase that spiraled down, before we encountered again the words written on the wall...the tower was breathing. The tower breathed, and the walls when I went to touch them carried the echo of a heartbeat...and they were not made of stone but of living tissue.

Four scientists embark on an expedition to Area X.

From the beginning, they view each other with suspicion and doubt; it does not help that they have been encourag
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved-it, sci-fi
Oh I liked this so.

I had this book on my TBR for what feels like forever and I am so glad I finally read it. Jeff VanderMeer has a brilliant imagination and the world he creates feels utterly original, startlingly so, but still grounded in something like believability.

There is not all that much to the plot: four women embarque on an expedition into Area X; they are the 12th expedition of this kind and all the ones that came before ended somewhat mysteriously. The reader never really learns what
Will M.
May 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Curiosity could be a powerful distraction

When the 12th expedition planned on further investigating the mysterious Area X, things started to get weird again. The team was comprised of a biologist, anthropologist, surveyor, and a psychologist. This expedition proved to be just as dangerous as the first 11. Will this one finally be the successful one, or will it be the worst one of them all?

Annihilation received a huge amount of buzz and positive feedback over the past few months. I've also bee
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

“We all live in a kind of continuous dream. When we wake, it is because something, some event, some pinprick even, disturbs the edges of what we’ve taken as reality.”

Welcome to the place that lies outside of Trump’s wall that Mexico paid for. It is known as Area X . . .

“Our mission was simple: to continue the government’s investigation into the mysteries of Area X . . . We were the twelfth expedition.”

After my failure yesterday I
Heidi The Hippie Reader
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A group of female scientists and professionals are sent to explore a region that is not like the world they know. Annihilation is a hypnotic science fiction/thriller that weaves its spell slowly. Then, all at once, it has your complete attention and you find yourself hanging on every word. I loved it.

Isolation from the modern world and technology places this tale in an anachronistic bubble: "One rule for an expedition into Area X was that we were to attempt no outside contact, for fear of some i
Jul 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of jeanette winterson, environmental exploration, the New Wierd
"The effect of this cannot be understood without being there. The beauty of it cannot be understood, either, and when you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you. Desolation tries to colonize you."

So is it with Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. Summaries do not do this book justice. Its story colonized me. It was not an invasion; it did not attack my brain, insistent that I continue reading. I was not forced by fear to discover if the hero lives. My limbic system did not spike m
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jarringly beautiful and horrifying. Easily my favorite book so far this year.
Barry Pierce
Annihilation is a sci-fi novel that follows a team of four women as they explore a mysterious region known as Area X. A shady company called Southern Reach is sending teams of biologists, anthropologists, linguists, architects and others into Area X to try to discover just what it is and why it has become so inhospitable. Thus far, being one of these team members has a 100% mortality rate. Just what is Area X and what is killing everyone?

This novel would be nothing without Tarkovsky's Stalker. I
Joe Valdez
The next stop in my end-of-the-world reading marathon was Annihilation, the first entry in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy. While the novel doesn't introduce a doomsday scenario or send the population of a major city fleeing in terror, an apocalyptic vibe permeates the story, which is elliptical, imaginative, removed, occasionally creepy and mostly lifeless.

The heavily concept oriented novel deals with an expedition into Area X, an ecological dead zone that has appeared in an unnamed re
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

So often people fight it. Fear it. Don't understand it. Fight it because they fear it due to their lack of understanding. This book, in a way, is about change and mankind's fight against it even before we understand what it is.

The book details how there is an area in the US that is ... different. About 30 years ago this somehow came to be although we don't know if it was all of a sudden (which it almost has had to be in order to be perceptible) or gradually. In any case, the area is called
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Journey into the mind? 10 25 Jun 15, 2018 08:32AM  
Annihilation: Area X and identity 13 73 Jun 14, 2018 07:05PM  
Nerds & Encrenque...: Annihilation (Março/2017) 13 35 May 19, 2018 03:57PM  
The BOOK/MOVIE Club: Book #19 - Annihilation 10 61 May 01, 2018 08:03PM  
Around the Year i...: Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer 23 147 Apr 22, 2018 03:10AM  
Stephen King Fans: Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer 53 168 Apr 18, 2018 02:36PM  
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NYT bestselling writer Jeff VanderMeer has been called “the weird Thoreau” by the New Yorker for his engagement with ecological issues. His most recent novel, the national bestseller Borne, received wide-spread critical acclaim and his prior novels include the Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance). Annihilation won the Nebula and Shirley Jackson Awards, has been translat ...more
More about Jeff VanderMeer

Other books in the series

Southern Reach (3 books)
  • Authority (Southern Reach, #2)
  • Acceptance (Southern Reach, #3)

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“The effect of this cannot be understood without being there. The beauty of it cannot be understood, either, and when you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you. Desolation tries to colonize you.” 140 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 dimlit halls of other places forms that never were and never could be writhe for the impatience of the few who never saw what could have been. 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, but whether it decays under the earth or above on green fields, or out to sea or in the very air, all shall come to revelation, and to revel, in the knowledge of the strangling fruit—and the hand of the sinner shall rejoice, for there is no sin in shadow or in light that the seeds of the dead cannot forgive. And there shall be in the planting in the shadows a grace and a mercy from which shall blossom dark flowers, and their teeth shall devour and sustain and herald the passing of an age. That which dies shall still know life in death for all that decays is not forgotten and reanimated it shall walk the world in the bliss of not-knowing. And then there shall be a fire that knows the naming of you, and in the presence of the strangling fruit, its dark flame shall acquire every part of you that remains.” 129 likes
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