Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)” as Want to Read:
Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(Southern Reach #1)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  165,484 ratings  ·  18,597 reviews
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows ...more
Paperback, 195 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
More Details... Edit Details
Featured Notes & Highlights

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Annihilation, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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 se…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
Average rating 3.71  · 
Rating details
 ·  165,484 ratings  ·  18,597 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)
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
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 n
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. ...more
B Schrodinger
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror, fantasy
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 12, 2019 rated it liked it
I am not sure how I feel about this.

It was good but not really.
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
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
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: underrated, owned
“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
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Back in the 90s and early 2000s video and computer game fans were all the rave for a game called Myst. You logged in and were quietly transported to a seemingly deserted island. The POV would move around and you could find clues and then wander around some more. The artwork was impressive and slowly, tediously learning the backstory was the real fun.

I remember sitting down in front of the screen and thinking … “Ok, now what? What’s going on? What are we doing? What’s the purpose? Am I supposed t
J.L.   Sutton
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Blown away by Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (Southern Reach #1)! An expedition made up of four women known only by their profession: anthropologist, surveyor, psychologist and our narrator, the biologist, investigates a mysterious netherworld which has been cut off from their continent (Area X). This is the twelfth such expedition. All previous expeditions have ended in failure and death.

This story is somewhat creepy and very mysterious. We have scant clues to figure out what happened on previ
Dan Schwent
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015, ebooks
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
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
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
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.

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
Richard Derus
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

***MOVIE REVIEW*** Watch Darren of Flick Connection's guide to how to watch the film. It's a lot better than the carping literalists would have you believe. Please! PLEASE! Watch the film and let the experience beguile and ensorcel you. Watch it twice. Immerse yourself and let it become a bit of your brain.

***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
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.

Annihilation is one weird piece of literature. This short novel is redolent of the strange fascination one might feel when gazing at a heavy, sleepy pool of water, where fish and tadpoles swarm and waggle among dead weeds; more massive creatures seem to be lurking in the dark, unfathomable depths underneath.

Area X is a fascinating place: an abandoned, nondescrip
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
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
“That’s how the madness of the world tries to colonize you: from the outside in, forcing you to live in its reality.”
It’s one of those strange books that I enjoyed and yet found strangely off-putting and uncomfortable, like one of those disturbing early morning dreams just before waking where everything is a bit distorted and all you remember in the morning is that fuzzy unsettled residue of it that lurks in the back recesses of your brain for days after.
“The beauty of it cannot be unders
Ɗẳɳ  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
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, biopunk, sci-fi
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
Jan 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apocalyptic, dark, weird
Need to think about this one. Mixed feelings about it... still haven't made my mind up completely. but no doubt the story is exceptional...
Really intriguing, weird story, kind of a hallucination.
I liked the story concept and you keep reading, wondering what the .... is going on and how it will all end... but I did not particularly love it. Vague happenings, flat characters, and for me pages of contemplations that were not always engaging.
Still, an exceptional, creepy storyline that makes you ke
L A i N E Y ~back in a bit~
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
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
I really enjoyed this, but I also have no clue what happened and I NEED A SMART PERSON TO EXPLAIN IT TO ME SOS
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
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
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 b
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • I'm Thinking of Ending Things
  • The Only Good Indians
  • Piranesi
  • The Three-Body Problem (Remembrance of Earth’s Past #1)
  • This Is How You Lose the Time War
  • All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)
  • Dune (Dune, #1)
  • Stories of Your Life and Others
  • The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth, #1)
  • Station Eleven
  • Exhalation: Stories
  • The Fisherman
  • Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1)
  • Dark Matter
  • Lovecraft Country
  • The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2)
  • The Troop
  • The Haunting of Hill House
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

Southern Reach (4 books)
  • Authority (Southern Reach, #2)
  • Acceptance (Southern Reach, #3)
  • Absolution (Southern Reach #4)

Articles featuring this book

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
39 likes · 7 comments
“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.” 256 likes
“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.” 217 likes
More quotes…