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Acceptance (Southern Reach, #3)
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(Southern Reach #3)

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  38,771 ratings  ·  4,207 reviews
It is winter in Area X, the mysterious wilderness that has defied explanation for thirty years, rebuffing expedition after expedition, refusing to reveal its secrets. As Area X expands, the agency tasked with investigating and overseeing it—the Southern Reach—has collapsed on itself in confusion. Now one last, desperate team crosses the border, determined to reach a remote ...more
Paperback, 341 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published September 2014)
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Johnett Book one, l thought, “Okay, this is just the set up. It’ll get better and clearer as the story develops.” End of book two, thought, “Well, there was…moreBook one, l thought, “Okay, this is just the set up. It’ll get better and clearer as the story develops.” End of book two, thought, “Well, there was actually some substance here and some characters I could maybe/possibly/in some way mildly care about.” Book three felt more like a duty than anything, like there’s no way I could’ve slogged this far through the Southern Reach with them and not see the final credits. Only, the Credits came before any recognizable Last Act, and the fade-to-black was more because I’d held my breath too long and finally just died of literary asphyxiation. (less)
Jose Brox If you didn't like Authority, chances are that you won't like Acceptance either. Although the ambientation is closer to that of Annihilation, the…moreIf you didn't like Authority, chances are that you won't like Acceptance either. Although the ambientation is closer to that of Annihilation, the style is quite similar to that of Authority. I would skip both of them, and be happy of having read Annihilation as a stand-alone. You are not going to get much more action or resolution of the story.(less)

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Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure why, but everything kind of fell apart for me on this one (and, looking over the reviews, I'm clearly in the minority on that.) The only story that was truly compelling to me was the Lightkeeper's. Otherwise it just felt like a race to wrap up different story threads and tie it with a bow. When you step back, not a whole lot of anything actually HAPPENS in this book. People walk around. Thoughts are processed. We flash back to the past. People marvel at Area X's oddness. They see an ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Jan 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
”Writing, for me, is like trying to restart an engine that has rested for years, silent and rusting, in an empty lot--choked with water and dirt, infiltrated by ants and spiders and cockroaches. Vines and weeds shoved into it and sprouting out of it. A kind of coughing splutter, an eruption of leaves and dust, a voice that sounds a little like mine but is not the same as it was before; I use my actual voice rarely enough.”

”Writing, for me, is like trying to restart an engine that has rested for years, silent and rusting, in an empty lot--choked with water and dirt, infiltrated by ants and spiders and cockroaches. Vines and weeds shoved into it and sprouting out of it. A kind of coughing splutter, an eruption of leaves and dust, a voice that sounds a little like mine but is not the same as it was before; I use my actual voice rarely enough.”

 photo Area_X_zpslyyoygx8.jpg

There is this need for people trapped in Area X to write about what they see. They want to try and make sense of what they are experiencing. They don’t. They can’t understand, but maybe by leaving the squiggles of their thoughts trapped in a notebook they can give someone else a key to the locket they could not find.

”Perhaps so many journals had piled up in the lighthouse because on some level most came, in time, to recognize the futility of language. Not just in Area X but against the rightness of the lived-in moment, the instant of touch, of connection, for which words were such a sorrowful disappointment, so inadequate an expression of both the finite and infinite.”

It is the perfect invasion. It is an unknowable entity that is undefinable. A sector of slithering, watchful creatures that all seem interdependent. It would be like every known living plant, or creature, and even those that are unknown suddenly being able to communicate on a cellular level. They would be working in tandem to remake the world in a new image. Humans can’t remain humans. They must evolve to be something more useful. We are conquerors after all and those that wish to rule could never be part of the whole.

”Even as he knew the words came from him, had always come from him, and were being emitted soundlessly from his mouth. And that he had been speaking already for a very long time, and that each word had been unraveling his brain a little more, a little more, even as each word also offered relief from the pressure in his skull. While what lay below waiting for his mind to peel away entirely. A blinding white light, a plant with leaves that formed a rough circle, a splinter that was not a splinter.”

Our minds, our precious minds that placed us on the top of the food chain prove to be useless.

There are monstrous flowers. There are sea serpents that would have nestled nicely within the gray matter of H. P. Lovecraft. There is a crawler who is a scrawler of dangerous verses with the one arm that still retains a nerve coupling to the dying remains of an old mind.

 photo H.20P.20Lovecraft_zpsuzk0yqog.jpg
Lovecraft...H. P.

”Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner I shall bring forth the seeds of the dead.”

What we want are answer, right? That is what we do. The science and math that we cram into our heads is there to make more sense of the world we don’t know, but the answer lies in the title of book three…ACCEPTANCE. Difficult isn’t it? Movies are all about the brilliant scientist, the brave warrior, or the dipshit that accidentally stumbles on a solution. One of them always saves us. The fact of the matter is that in this case to understand means becoming part of Area X. Assimilate or assimilate, no dying allowed. There are useful parts of all of us to contribute to Area X.

If it wants the world it will just take it.

”It acts a bit like an organism, like skin with a million greedy mouths instead of cells or pores. And the question isn’t what it is but is the motive. Think of Area X as a murderer we’re trying to catch.”

Someone is still trying to apply their minds to this problem as if there is something catchable.

It reminds me of the movie Evolution which is definitely a B movie, but it is one of my favorite B movies. The unconventional heroes are dealing with an organism from outer space that is adapting millions of years of evolution in mere hours. As it grows exponentially the government wants to nuke it but the scientists from the local community college know that a nuke is nothing but a release of energy and the organism will only feed on it and grow faster. So attacking Area X with what we feel are our most powerful weapons would be a mistake.

 photo evolution_zps8ttqfduh.jpg

Now there are going to be people disappointed in this series. They will have made it through the first two books, bought the I Survived Area X t-shirt (of course they really didn’t), and are looking forward to having all their questions answered, but Jeff Vandermeer is doing something very delicate here. This is a fragile egg of an idea to present to his readership. He is presenting the theory that there are things that are unknowable. I’ve read most of his books and these three books have some of the most dynamic, lush prose I’ve ever experienced in a Vandermeer book. The puzzling mind must be gagged and chained and tossed in a corner so that the rest of the brain can embrace the psychedelics of what we can’t know, but what we can experience.

I will conclude with a quote from Kingsley Amis who was talking about another book I read recently, but it certainly applies as equally well to this trilogy. The books are "actually quite good if you stop worrying about what's going on".

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Claudia Putnam
Bumping to 4 because the writing really is terrific. And because I'm still thinking about it, and about some of the comments on this review, below. Thanks all!

Spoiler alert... I'm not hiding this review, but I'm giving something away. Don't read if you don't want to know anything in advance.


Actually, I don't have much to say. Basically, (this is the spoiler) Earth is being terraformed (whatever-formed, really) by an alien organism to prepare the way for colonization by aliens
Will Chin
Jun 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
That's it? Well, I must admit, I feel a little hoodwinked.

Acceptance is a noticeably better book than Authority, but that is not saying a lot, considering that the second book in the series is dreadful in every sense of the word. Just when you thought that the middle chapter of a trilogy cannot get any more weighted down, Authority showed up to prove us all wrong. Every page towards the end felt like a sucker punch to the guts, and it took great determination to pick up the next and final book
Nov 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Recommended for fans of sci-fi, hallucinogenic fiction
From my blog:

Once again, Vandermeer astonishes me with evocative, symbolic language:

“The fifth morning I rose from the grass and dirt and sand, the brightness had gathered to form a hushed second skin over me, that skin cracking from my opening eyes like the slightest, the briefest, touch of an impossibly thin later of ice. I could hear the fracturing of its melting as if it came from miles and years away.“

And once again, Area X takes center stage in the last book of The South/>“The
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For those of you like me who loved Annihilation and struggled with Authority, you will be happy to know that this book is more like Annihilation than Authority. We are back in Area-X with Ghost Bird and Control, although there are multiple view points alternating through this book that also bring us back to the history of Area-X.

The thing that I adore most about these books is the writing. The haunting metaphors that set the tone for this mind-fuck of a novel. The pacing was perfect,
Tobin Elliott
Dec 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, horror, audiobook
So that's it? That's all we get?

I wish I had known. I wouldn't have wasted my time.

With this frustrating final book in the trilogy, I alternated between anger (because VanderMeer continued to stuff the pages with useless, time-wasting back stories), and annoyance (because the story wasn't going anywhere for the most part), with frequent side-trips into unadulterated boredom. There were large swaths of narrative that my eyes slid over but my brain couldn't get the gumption up to care
Aug 23, 2018 rated it liked it
The face of someone watching Mulholland Drive for the first time.

For me, I was mesmerized by the first two books in the trilogy, entranced by VanderMeer’s writing like watching a cool street magician. But the bubble burst here and I blinked and came back to the world, realizing that while it was entertaining and fun to watch, the performance art was only just that.

Taking themes, styles and inspiration from JG Ballard, Jack Finney, and Eugène Ionesco, Jeff VanderMeer has crafted an extraordinarily original story of
I am afraid to report that I found the final installment of The Southern Reach Trilogy to be a disappointment and let down. After really enjoying the first two books in this series, Annihilation and Authority this verdict pains me. VanderMeer succeeded in creating this weird, amazing world populated by fascinating characters. But all the promise and potential of the first two books were squandered, in my opinion, by Acceptance's ending.

Spoilers for the series and this book follow, so be wary.

Heidi The Reader
Acceptance answers any lingering questions that the reader may have concerning Area X. I found it much more satisfying than the second entry. But, I don't think that either the second or third book approached the brilliance of the first.

Beyond the revelations about Area X, this book also explains some of the relationships between characters. "Sometimes.. other people gave you their light, and could seem to flicker, to be hardly visible at all, if no one took care of them. Because they'd given
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone

Bodies could be beacons, too, Saul knew. A lighthouse was a fixed beacon for a fixed purpose; a person was a moving one. But people still emanated light in their way, still shone across the miles as a warning, an invitation, or even just a static signal. People opened up so they became a brightness, or they went dark. They turned their light inward sometimes, so you couldn't see it, because they had no other choice.

The final exploration of Area X. After the cat/>Bodies
Really 3.5 stars

I'm already tired of my previous argument that the first book was the unconscious and the second was the superego. There's no where else for this book to go except a healthy balance: Hence the name, Acceptance. My argument is too trite and obvious.

So, instead, I'll move on to how this novel either succeeds or doesn't as an actual novel meant to entertain us.

I had issues with the previous novel which did get much better once the Authority crumbl
Caro the Helmet Lady
Wow, this book. Wow, this series. I know it will haunt me for a while now and I will have to read something of completely different genre, because I will try and compare any other sci-fi or fantasy book to it through some period of time. And it will win. Because the language was gorgeous and the world was hypnotic and Biologist/Ghost Bird wormed in deep into my brain like that Saul's sliver of light. I guess this whole story had this effect on me.

Acceptance was as good as Annihilation was, while it was d
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
There's a paragraph or two in Acceptance that perfectly sums up my feelings about this trilogy(So much so that I had to look it up!). The key line is - "The allure of the island lay in its negation of why". The author is talking about how humans constantly need to have a purpose, constantly need to find the why behind something and neglect to just accept the `what` of something.

Its so apt, because its exactly what happened to these books. Area X is summoned up in all its glory in the
Sep 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Area X was looking at her through dead eyes. Area X was analyzing her from all sides. It made her feel like an outline created by the regard bearing down on her, one that moved only because the regard moved with her, held her constituent atoms together in a coherent shape. And yet the eyes upon her felt familiar.

I'm not sure why none of these books have captured me like Annihilation. There was just something about those four nameless female scientists that held me rapt and it has not been repeated in the other titl
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You could know the what of something forever and never discover the why.
The only solution to the environment is neglect, which requires our collapse.

In my opinion, these are the most important quotes from this book as they explain the entire trilogy.
Sometimes there just aren’t the kind of answers we’d like.

In this third and last book of the Southern Reach trilogy we get three different POVs: the one of thwhy.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Though not the best conclusion, I enjoyed the entire Southern Reach Trilogy. The series was strange but also incredibly well-written and completely unique. I have to admit that I found Acceptance the weaker of the three books, with Annihilation being my favorite. I’d recommend this trilogy to science fiction fans or people wanting to read something that is different/original.
Andrea McDowell
I have a hypothesis about this series.

If you like boundaries between civilization and nature, humans and animals, intellect and emotion, you would probably classify these books as horror. And if you aren't particularly invested in those boundaries, you won't.

I've read a number of reviews (both official and non) about these books that discuss how terrifying they are. But they're not. At least, not for me, and believe me, I've got a thin skin and a poor stomach for most horror. This w
Timothy Urges
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Area X opens the door to more questions. Area X embraces and destroys.

Acceptance and The Southern Reach Trilogy as a whole is about experiencing the journey of seeking answers.

Ambiguity rules this trilogy. Answers are not always the outcome. Theory after theory wander the minds of those involved. And communication is not always lingual.
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
After Authority's "nothing happens and you're gonna like it" plot line, this was exhilarating. The excellent pacing from Annihilation is back! And the beautiful, disturbing prose is still here, as ever.

There are no neat answers here. In fact, I have several questions. I call this "my own damn fault for reading so quickly" (forgive me, it was exciting). Well, I'm not sure how much is that and how much is intended/unintended ambiguity on the part of the author. Which is fitting, for Ar
Althea Ann
Sep 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved 'Annihilation'; I had a few doubts about 'Authority' - but 'Acceptance' pulled it all back together.

However, if anyone reading this is thinking about starting here: don't. You will be totally lost. I actually think you could conceivably skip the middle volume, but 'Annihilation' is a required prerequisite.

'Acceptance' brings us back to the depths of Area X.
The book has a lot of jump-cuts and flashbacks (I actually think it might've worked better chronologica
Sep 12, 2014 rated it it was ok
i slogged through all 3 of these slim volumes, waiting for a rational explanation of area x. didn't happen. guy can write, but this short story sized plot went on and on and by the end i was sick of the all of the whinny characters and felt stupid having spent all these hours reading the series instead of watching re-runs of battlestar galactica with loren greene.
oh well. peter hamilton has a 600 pager coming out this month, and if you haven't read the void series, get busy.
Dec 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
But what if you discover that the price of purpose is to render invisible so many other things?

So....I loved this a lot. This was better than I ever hoped that it would be, and after the first two I hoped that it would be pretty great. Acceptance is weird and abstract and beautiful and sad.

The final book in VanderMeer's trilogy follows three parallel plotlines: Saul the lighthouse keeper, Gloria's first trip into Area X, and the rag-tag remnant of survivors from Authority. The thing that really makes
Richard Derus
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Rating: 4* of five

My review, inexplicably unwritten until now, is live at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud. How Alex Garland plans to film these books is completely beyond my grasp.
J Edward Tremlett
Jun 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Call her Ghost Bird. That’s not her real name. But then, when she was the Biologist, she wasn’t supposed to use her real name, either.

But then, was she ever the Biologist at all? Or is she merely a copy of the woman who went into the topographical mystery known as Area X to find answers about her dead husband?

Yet another explorer who went into that deadly and subversive enigma and never came back out again?

That’s just it — she’s not sure. She’s not sure of a l
"The world we are a part of now is difficult to accept, unimaginably difficult. I don’t know if I accept everything even now. I don’t know how I can. But acceptance moves past denial, and maybe there’s defiance in that, too."

So fitting for the times we live in and where our planet's headed if we don't accept and act on what's so obviously staring us in the face.

Also, this unsettling observation from the biologist:

"The only solution to the environment is neglect, which requir/>
May 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing

This isn’t a review of only Acceptance, but also the first two books of the Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation and Authority. Some believe that Annihilation, in particular, can be a standalone novel, and while I do not disagree, I have no idea why anyone would not read the entire trilogy.

In Annihilation, the Southern Reach sends its twelfth expedition into the mysterious Area X. Four women—a psychologist, anthropologist, surveyor, and biologist—are tasked with exploration and documentation. The biologist, whose perspective we foll
Mar 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Acceptance like the first two books in the Southern Reach trilogy is surreal and environmental; Area X invades and alters everything it touches. I was not however as wowed by the language, nor did I become as immersed in the narrative as in Annihilation. Acceptance also lacks Authority's intrigue and creep factor. It reads more as a formulaic (though unusual) multi-point narrative. It is disjointed, much too long, and the ending feels like a cop out.

My biggest problem with Acceptance is what Vandermeer chose to focus on and when. He wea
Matthew Chiabotti
Sep 22, 2014 rated it did not like it
I so badly wanted to like this. Truth be told, I only stuck it out because I was already 2 books invested into the trilogy. By the end it became a chore just trying to finish. If I could go back in time, I would have stopped with Annihilation as a great stand-alone piece of weird fiction. Do yourself a favor, read Annihilation and then stop. You won't ever get the adequate answers you seek, and the mystery created by the first book only gets watered down by the remaining two.
Annette Lulchak
What the fuck.

What the fuck???

What. The. Fuuuuuuuuuuuucccccckkkkkkk.

In case that wasn't enough to warn you, this isn't going to be a nice review. Spoilers below (nothing major because nothing gets answered, but read at your own risk).

I'm so freakin' pissed right now, at the fact that both my time and money were spent on this absolute fuckery of a series. How trailed along I was, just hoping it would get better, wanting it to get better because goddammit it was a great premise
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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

Other books in the series

Southern Reach (3 books)
  • Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)
  • Authority (Southern Reach, #2)
“You could know the what of something forever and never discover the why.” 33 likes
“Perhaps so many journals had piled up in the lighthouse because on some level most came, in time, to recognize the futility of language. Not just in Area X but against the rightness of the lived-in moment, the instant of touch, of connection for which words were such a sorrowful disappointment, so inadequate an expression of both the finite and the infinite.” 17 likes
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