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Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy (Southern Reach, #1-3)
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Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy

(Southern Reach #1-3)

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  6,978 ratings  ·  876 reviews

Annihilation is the first volume in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, Authority is the second, and Acceptance is the third.

Area X—a remote and lush terrain—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 memb

Hardcover, 595 pages
Published November 18th 2014 by FSG Originals
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Julia I found it strange that it could be considered a horror. I found it one of the best stories about xenogenesis since, well. Butler's Xenogenesis trilog…moreI found it strange that it could be considered a horror. I found it one of the best stories about xenogenesis since, well. Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy. Strange and fascinating, and less about endings than transformations - I guess it's no wonder I can't get it out of my brain, too!(less)
Kassie I personally found the second novel to be a bit dragging but it's super worth it when you finish the third, you'll be thankful for that change in styl…moreI personally found the second novel to be a bit dragging but it's super worth it when you finish the third, you'll be thankful for that change in style and the way you received the information. This book is not for everyone, but it made one hell of an impression on me.(less)

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Average rating 3.79  · 
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 ·  6,978 ratings  ·  876 reviews

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Start your review of Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy (Southern Reach, #1-3)
Jack Foster
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book/series of books is extremely frustrating and unsatisfying. It's like listening to a person describe a very detailed but also very boring dream, with the logic of dreams that, if you are not the dreamer, appear only as gaps or blanks to the listener.

If you have heard good but vague praise about this book and are considering reading it, I would suggest passing. This book seems not to realise that we live in a Post-Lost world and on network TV (not even cable) everybody & their grandmoth
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Huh, that was weird.

You're never on firm ground because reality is on a shift. There were twelve expeditions. Then someone talks about the first fifth expedition (it may have been the first eighth, I forget), so how many total?

It has the most compelling description of washing a mouse that I've ever read. Okay, yeah, the only one that I've ever read.

Parts reminded me of Blood Music and House of Leaves. Another reviewer said that it reminded him most of To the Lighthouse, so I'll move that up o
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
I would never, even on my best day, consider myself an optimist. But how else to explain the way I doggedly slogged my way through Jeff VanderMeer's Area X trilogy beyond all reason in the hope that it would eventually get better? 600 pages of tedium and nothing happening and all that nothing happening so slowly and yet I read on, thinking, "It'll get better, right?"


It should've been better. Vaguely post-apocalyptic, focusing on a weird dimension that exists just one step to the side of our
Apr 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jeff VanderMeer's lush, eerie New-Weird trilogy combines the American cosmic horror of HP Lovecraft with the post-human fecundity of some of JG Ballard's apocalyptic visions. I am still not sure how successful it is – but it has ambition, and a clutch of great ideas, and an admirable reluctance to resolve too many of the mysteries it so deftly sets up.

The first book, Annihilation, has by far the tightest and most coherent plot. In it, we follow an unnamed biologist as she journeys into ‘Area X’,
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
Literary in ambition and new weird in execution, the writing and ideas pull you along but ultimately lead you nowhere.
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: "Lost" fans (or fans of the idea of it); for nature > humans thing
Note: my spoilers are from all three parts
Another note: this series works the best if you chain-read all three parts (as this one book, or the three books available separately). I feel that all are needed to be read to see what the quality of the story is for the reader, thus for me this was 4 stars.

A little over 30 years ago, a part of (possibly, slightly) southeastern coast of US was cut off from rest of the world, today known as Area X. It has since been observed by government agency Southern
3 and a half, rounded up. This was an intense book...

Jeff VanderMeer's books are always difficult to describe and review. I love where that man's brain goes: his weird and atmospheric stories have a way of sticking to my mind in the most haunting way. "The Southern Reach" trilogy had been on my shelf for a while, and I got so excited seeing the previews of the upcoming "Annihilation" movie adaptation (see thoughts about the movie at the end of the review) that I abandoned other books for this on
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dystopian, scifi, horror, weird
**Note: if you're looking for a useful review that will provide cogent analysis of the book, please look elsewhere. This is my random, 10-minute, offhand reaction. I'm going to talk about themes. Depending on your definition, you may consider it spoilery. You've been warned.**


In some ways, speculative fiction often balances precariously on the boundary between detective fiction and horror. Some books--hard scifi is a prime example--seek to make a world that they can explain. No matter how be
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.66 stars overall.

was a little underwhelmed with acceptance and not totally satisfied with the final entry in trilogy.
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Stunning and mesmerizing. A masterpiece of the weird fiction genre. Many readers will surely be drawn to the unique ecological setting and horror. But what I found most gripping were the linguistical and relative meanderings about the nature of meaning and knowing - - about how ever much we can know a thing and yet not know it at all; illusion and progress co-existing. Anyway, a unique and wonderful trilogy. Definitely recommended for newcomers to weird fiction.
Mark Rough
Feb 17, 2015 rated it did not like it
I don't usually write reviews. But, I felt I needed to balance out the mostly glowing reviews here and around the internet. I really wanted to like these books. The premise is intriguing, there is an area in the southern United States that some mysterious force is trying to reclaim from humanity. Unfortunately, that's the best part.

The first book is just interesting enough to make me keep going to it's very unsatisfying end. Sadly, the writing is not unlike what you might encounter in a freshman
Chaunceton Bird
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-hi-fi
The first book in this trilogy, Annihilation, is a five-star home run. The writing is terse, focused, and lean. There is some properly frightening parts, and the story moves quickly enough to pull the reader through, speckling in necessary background information occasionally.

The second book, Authority, is a three-star meandering follow up. Everything that made the first books so incredible is missing in this installment. The writing is fluffy, aimless, and unnecessarily detailed. Where in the f
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, audiobook
So you know when your brain is fried, you're sleep deprived, and more info is slipping out than going in? Yeah, that's me. 13 hr days and weekends right now.

So when I started this audiobook and the narrator seemed rather dry and monotone, I considered giving this one up to a later date when I could be more with it. You know, when I wouldn't be lulled to sleep while I drive. But no, I trudged along. I'd been putting this 26 hr monstrosity off long enough. So when things didn't seem to improve an
Nov 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
I purchased all three books as they appeared in the UK as hard covers, and I am glad that I did as I really enjoyed the series. Now imagine my surprise when I see this American Hardcover appear out of no where containing all three books. Well, I went ahead and purchased the book again.
CKQ Malone
Jan 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Annihilation (book 1) still stands out as the strongest in the trilogy to me. It's crazy how quick and dry/painless of a read it is, until you get to the end and wish there were another couple hundred pages that might clue the reader in to whatever Area X has become (or becoming). A nameless expedition team sent into isolated territory to study the unnameable. It's pure discovery and reaction, like an episode of Lost that eschews character development in favor of building up the mystery and myth ...more
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
A very unsatisfying, confused journey to an otherworld. The story has a number of flat characters whose thoughts and acts occur at various times and places. It seemed like every chapter was written, stapled and then when all was done they were thrown into the air, selected randomly and made into 3 books which should have been one. I ended up speed reading to get it over with.

I completely agree with Dustin's Review: "Literary in ambition and new weird in execution, the writing and ideas pull you
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, spooky
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
Ugh, ended up skimming the last 3/4 of this book. I just couldn't anymore.
The first book was decent, probably a 3 star rating.....but the rest was utter torture. I really really wanted to find out what was going I pushed on...and on....and on. I have been forcing myself to read this book for way too long...3 weeks at least and I am SO over it.
Don't waste your time.
Brandon Forsyth
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know if I always understood it, but I was always fascinated by it. VanderMeer's brand of literary environmental dystopia feels fresh and exciting, and maybe even the start of something new. ...more
Sunyi Dean
Jun 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I'm going to change my review. As I read it again I can't believe the flawlessness of the prose. The beauty and depth. Structure and horror like none other. Absolutely incredible. And the biologist is totally autistic. ...more
Annihilation: 4 stars

Authority: 3.5 stars? I was interested in the story but it took so long to actually get through it. I read most of Annihilation in a single day but with Authority I’d sit down, prepared to read 100 pages, and struggle to get through 20. I think I’d have to read it again to truly appreciate it.

Acceptance: 4-ish stars. I still don’t understand but I think that’s the point. The beauty is in the mystery, and there are no answers because there can’t be answers. This is definitely

I am confusion
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
4.5 stars.
(And sorry if this is a bit of a short rambling review, but this book is really hard to analyze in a straightforward manner for me.)

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." These immortal words were written by legendary horror guru HP Lovecraft. And they accurately sum up the entirety of this trilogy.

Everything about this trilogy is designed to make readers uncomfortable, and warp their expectations of what
Paulo Limp
Jan 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
The human mind craves for order. Ever since we started walking with two legs, we observed the world around us, trying to find explanation for the inexplicable things we witnessed. Why there are days, and nights, and why sometimes it rains... We even created Gods to explain what we could not understand, later replacing these explanations for others, as our understanding of the universe grew. In that aspect, something manmade that intentionally devised not to be explained is alien, and annoying to ...more
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book was in turns horrifying (made me sleep with the lights on at least once) and intriguing – although I did skim some passages that were given to rambling descriptions and side plots chasing their own tails, doing little to further the overall plot; hence the four stars instead of five...

Other than that, this trilogy had all the things that I look for in a good book of this/these genre/s. The post-cataclysmic after-human milieu; the constant sense of mystery and mutability; the quasi-rel
Ryan Bradford
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sheer ambition and outlandishness make it easy to look over the flaws of this series. Some of the language seems stubbornly pseudo-dense, and the end left me with more questions than when I started, but I have nothing but admiration for the Southern Reach Trilogy. Never have I read anything that has balanced terror, dry humor and suspense so deftly.

The format of a trilogy, I think, automatically conjures associations with an 'epic', but just the fact that he took the concept of an epic and made
Sharman Russell
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great science fiction. The language was often beautiful and always good. The plot was fast-paced and compelling, lots of movement back and forth between characters and perspectives, times and events. The Big Idea behind the plot was a big idea, too. And that's fun. Why read science fiction if you are not going somewhere weird in the universe? Also, in the second book, we are in the mental landscape of a man whose quirky and smart observations could be very funny. I listened to this while running ...more
3.5 - 4 stars for the first two, two stars for the third.
Rebecca Brink
May 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
This trilogy was really built up before I read it; my darling fiancé and a good friend were "OMG"-ing over it on social media, I had heard the accolades, and so I went ahead and read Annihilation to pass some time, and then quickly tore through the next two books (in this edition/format).

It just wasn't THAT good.

This could possibly be a situation of very high expectations and good but not very high delivery; I may not be giving the trilogy the credit it deserves. I will say that the investment i
Edward Rathke
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sf
I don't really know what to say about this trilogy, but I'll try to break it down in three sentences--one for each book.

Annihilation - Very strong, creepy condensed novel that feels dangerous and mysterious.
Authority - Office drama about the people who study Area X which is incredibly uninteresting.
Acceptance - The return to Area X is sort of a miasma of unsatisfying answers and implications to interesting questions.

Annihilation is a very good novel. I didn't like it as much as I expected, but t
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Goodreads Librari...: Area X new edition 2 29 Jan 16, 2018 05:05AM  
The Sword and Laser: Ann: The sequels (spoilers for series) 18 234 Feb 20, 2015 09:55AM  
Geek Book Club: Area X 3 28 Feb 13, 2015 03:33PM  

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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 (4 books)
  • Annihilation
  • Authority
  • Acceptance
  • Absolution

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