In the second volume of the Southern Reach Trilogy, questions are answered, stakes are raised, and mysteries are deepened …
Following the disastrous twelfth expedition chronicled in ‘Annihilation’, the second book of the Southern Reach trilogy introduces John Rodriguez, the new head of the government agency responsible for the safeguarding of Area X. His first day is spent...more
There…morePart 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)
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 ...more
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 ...more
"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 ...more
Rarely have I been so disappointed with a book as I was with Authority. The first entry in this series is a gripping, psychedelic adventure that reads like a nature-gone-wild acid trip. This book, on the other hand, is like going to work with a punishing hangover. You don't know what's going on ...more
I put Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeek’s 2014 environmental thriller, down with one hand while reaching for the sequel with the other.
Authority is in a different style and tone than was its predecessor. Whereas the first book was a surreal dystopian nightmare, told from the first-person perspective of The Biologist from a series of journal entries, this is broader in scope and more ambitious in design. VanderMeek h ...more
There is one thing I am absolutely sure of: Jeff VanderMeer is a genius. He has a way of writing tha ...more
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 ...more
This book takes a very different direction from the first book. I thought I was going to be disappointed, but halfway through and to the end I came to highly enjoy it. There is a lot of setup. Every little detail is significant.
Maybe I’m a masochist, but I enjoy the confusion.
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 ...more
Why didn’t I like this? Let me tell you!
1. Do you like reviewing reports all day? Filing paperwork? Do you like complaining about the rotten honey smell of your office’s cleaning agents? Do you like office politics?
After the genius that was Annihilation, I couldn't wait to get my hands on Authority. Annihilation posed so many questions and left all of them unanswered. I hoped that its sequel would help offer some answers, but I already knew and feared that it wouldn't. So here we are, at the end of book II, none the wiser.
Authority was weird. It was a huge mess, weird people and situations all over the place without an explanation of what was going on. All we have ...more
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 ...more
This continues the story of Area X, a part of what we now know is in the southern United States of America (somewhere in Florida to be more precise), that suddenly changed about 30 years ago. If the change really was sudden; there is still dispute about that. Anyway, about 30 years ago something happened and a form of border came down, shutting Area X off from the rest of the world. An agency, called Southern Reach, was formed to investigate and ...more
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 ...more
Area X is scary and still very unknown when this installa ...more
As with Annihilation, this is wonderfully tense. The prose is great, conveying this small town mystery/thriller with humour and creeping dread. Excellent setting, great ideas, and some very good characters.
Once again, there is almost zero resolution. It’s frustrating, and turns an excellent book into a merely good one. It's also a bit slow.
'Friends' character the protagonist is most like:
Control is a failed spy turned incompetent administrator. He is dumber than he thinks he is, ...more
After the surreal narration of the first book, I did wonder what VanderMeer had in stock for us. Authority is very much different in the sense that we are not in the marshes anymore but seeing what is going on at the Southern Reach, government body in charge of investigating Area X. We are given some glimpses in their futile trials to understand what it is, its purpose and goal. There are other contrasting aspects too: instead of a first person narrative, ...more
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 ...more
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 se ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
I probably will though, because I feel the need to finish the series after investing all this time.
A week ago I had a boring flight, and, while being airborne, I literally had nothing else to do, but to read "Authority". The flight took around three hours, during which I've managed ~8% of the book (that's about 25 pages). Then I managed to sleep. Usually I never sleep during flights - noise, turbulence, a fat dude in a next chair, etc. etc. - but "Authority" had been worse than all those things combined, it seems. No wonder, though. Let's see what are my key observations for that 1/ ...more
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