Jeffrey Keeten's Reviews > Authority

Authority by Jeff VanderMeer
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really liked it
bookshelves: post-apocalyptic

”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.”

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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 in a similar circumstances before with a job. It is time consuming winning everybody over so that the work environment can settle into a new normal.

As it turns out Control doesn’t have months to convince anyone of anything.

There is something wrong with the building...it smells like rotting honey.

Some of “the twelfth” expedition which were all women have returned, remembering next to nothing, scattered thoughts. Soon he is focused on The Biologist, the main character from Annihilation, whose answers are not...quite...right. There is blue sky in the amnesia that makes Control suspicious that she remembers more than she is letting on.

”They were beginning to exist in some transitional space between interrogation and conversation, something for which he could not quite find a name.”

She is bemused by him.

He discovers notes by the original director about The Biologist that he hopes will offer some clarification, but they only create more questions.

”Not a very good biologist. In a traditional sense. Empathic more toward environments than people. Forgets the reasons she went, who is paying her salary. But becomes embedded to an extraordinary extent. Would know Area X better than I do from almost the first moment sets foot there. Experience with similar settings. Self-sufficient. Unburdened. Connection through her husband. What would she be in Area X? A signal? A flare? Or invisible? Exploit.

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Control has been resurrected from what should have been a career ending disastrous string of decisions on his last assigning. The type of judgment calls that haunts your career for the rest of your life. His mother, Severance, currently works for Central in some nebulous position deemed Classified. His grandfather also used to work for Central as well and filled Control’s head with all kinds of platitudes.

”So long as you don’t tell people you don’t know something, they’ll probably think you know it.”

Gramps didn’t pass along anything original, but as his situation becomes more and more tenuous Control finds his grandfather’s voice in his head very reassuring.

”Is your house in order?” the Voice asked. “Is it in order?”

That voice is not grandfather, but his contact at Central. The entity that is supposed to be running interference for him at Central and buy him time to work his way through this puzzle. But why does he always feel so damn funny after talking to him?

Then there is the plant in his desk drawer; the plant that won’t die. It is obviously from Area X. Somebody gave it a dead mouse to eat.

 photo 8f39617e-e0aa-4082-995c-6fbbe777d8e8_zpse92bde9c.png
Rabbits will do what rabbits do best, but what will Rabbits do best in Area X?

And then there is Whitby talking about the terror, the terroir. The French word meaning the set of special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place possess and how it is interacting with plant genetics.

Area X=TERROIR!

Why don’t we agitate it? Make it do something.

Will it bring him ”closer to the truth about Area X, and even if the truth was a fucking maw, a fanged maw that stank like a cave full of putrefying corpses, that was still closer than he was now.”

Control is opening that door that defies the first rule of every horror film…DON’T OPEN THE DOOR.

 photo ScullyandMulder_zps1f332b23.jpg
Control would have been so much more focused if he’d had Dana Scully licking his face.

This was such a surprise after reading book one. I was expecting to be up to my armpits in malicious people eating foliage, attempting to keep my brain from going completely Gonzo, and hopefully finding answers to some lingering questions about Area X. Jeff Vandermeer switches gears on us and puts us in the middle of an X-File with a Fox Mulder without the steadying influence of a Dana Scully. The suspense builds beautifully with many moments of...that was odd...until finally it reaches a crescendo with Control on the run not only from Area X, but also from the people at Central. And now I MUST read Acceptance.

ANNIHILATION review Book one of the Southern Reach Trilogy

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Reading Progress

September 13, 2014 – Started Reading
September 13, 2014 – Shelved
September 15, 2014 – Finished Reading
January 7, 2015 – Shelved as: post-apocalyptic

Comments Showing 1-39 of 39 (39 new)

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message 1: by Alejandro (new)

Alejandro This book has received quite mixed reviews. In my case, I didn't enjoy as I thought I'd do it when reading the premise.

However, I am truly glad that you enjoy it so much!

Good review, Jeffrey :)


Jeffrey Keeten Alejandro wrote: "This book has received quite mixed reviews. In my case, I didn't enjoy as I thought I'd do it when reading the premise.

However, I am truly glad that you enjoy it so much!

Good review, Jeffrey :)"


Thanks Alejandro! This series is not for everyone...that is for sure. Although this is probably the most accessible mainstream stuff that Vandermeer has written so far. I heard that the film rights have been sold so it should be interesting to see how they turn this into a film or a series of films.


message 3: by Alejandro (new)

Alejandro Jeffrey wrote: "Alejandro wrote: "This book has received quite mixed reviews. In my case, I didn't enjoy as I thought I'd do it when reading the premise.

However, I am truly glad that you enjoy it so much!

Good ..."


Yikes! If this his material more accesible, I don't know if I'll be able to try something else by him.

I still meditating to keep reading this series (I stuck with the first book)

It will be interesting anyway if they adapted the material to a film or tv series.


Mara Definitely going after this one!


Jeffrey Keeten Alejandro wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "Alejandro wrote: "This book has received quite mixed reviews. In my case, I didn't enjoy as I thought I'd do it when reading the premise.

However, I am truly glad that you enjoy it..."


This one reads more like an X-File, not as strange and weird as the first one. I'm curious to see where he goes with the third one. This one was certainly a change of pace from the first one.


Jeffrey Keeten Mara wrote: "Definitely going after this one!"

Cool! Be sure to read them in order.


message 7: by Alejandro (new)

Alejandro Jeffrey wrote: "Alejandro wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "Alejandro wrote: "This book has received quite mixed reviews. In my case, I didn't enjoy as I thought I'd do it when reading the premise.

However, I am truly glad..."


Good to know. I haven't totally discarded the chance of getting back to the book series ;)


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Great review. Now that the trilogy's over I'm looking forward to reading these :)


Jeffrey Keeten Rabindranauth wrote: "Great review. Now that the trilogy's over I'm looking forward to reading these :)"

I've had a lot of readers mention that. They prefer to wait until all three are published before reading. Probably smart. On the Lev Grossman Magician's series I was glad to read them close together so people might be onto something. :-)Thanks Rabindranauth!


message 10: by Cathy (new)

Cathy DuPont Jeff...is there an emoticon for shaking of the head, in this case, mine? If so, insert it here, please. %-) Here's one, drunk and/or confused. (Keeping that in my back pocket because I would use it alot in this series.)

I do so admire you guys who read sci-fi because it's a great genre. But I would stay confused from the first page on this trilogy. However, I'm glad that it made you happy with the four stars.


Jeffrey Keeten Cathy wrote: "Jeff...is there an emoticon for shaking of the head, in this case, mine? If so, insert it here, please. %-) Here's one, drunk and/or confused. (Keeping that in my back pocket because I would use ..."

Maybe I have a hidden gift I hadn't really considered before. I have a high tolerance for being confused/discombobulated. Vandermeer's mind certainly has taken me down unfamiliar paths, paths so choked with brambles and dead ends that many times I wonder if I'm even on a path. One must not panic. One must have a stiff upper lip even as one's bowels turn to liquid. The yellow eye in the woods can sometimes be just that or it could be just a figment of our imagination. I like the way that Vandermeer makes me uncomfortable, stretches the boundaries of what I understand and manages to give me the heebie jeebies in the process. Confusion is nothing that two fingers of bourbon won't straighten out I always say. :-)


message 12: by Cathy (new)

Cathy DuPont Jeffrey wrote: "Cathy wrote: "Jeff...is there an emoticon for shaking of the head, in this case, mine? If so, insert it here, please. %-) Here's one, drunk and/or confused. (Keeping that in my back pocket becaus..."

Ha, keep on reading.


Jeffrey Keeten Cathy wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "Cathy wrote: "Jeff...is there an emoticon for shaking of the head, in this case, mine? If so, insert it here, please. %-) Here's one, drunk and/or confused. (Keeping that in my ba..."

That is one thing I do that can always be counted on...reading.


message 14: by Lori (new)

Lori Crockett The last three pages, the ending, Bam! What a euphoric kick in the gut! Whew, what a ride this book took me on... a psychological triller filled with paranoia and second, and third, and fourth guesses. I loved it. I feel like I just stepped off a rollercoaster!


Jeffrey Keeten Lori wrote: "The last three pages, the ending, Bam! What a euphoric kick in the gut! Whew, what a ride this book took me on... a psychological triller filled with paranoia and second, and third, and fourth gues..."

I'm hooked as well. I plan to queue up the third one very soon. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. It was written so differently than the first one which has me wondering what the style will be for book three.


message 16: by Lori (new)

Lori Crockett I cant wait to find out!


Carmen Great review!


Jeffrey Keeten Carmen wrote: "Great review!"

Thanks Carmen!


Jeffrey Keeten salamander wrote: "it is okay but it could always be better."

I'm glad you liked it Salamander.


message 20: by Levi (new)

Levi C. Byers Hi Jeffrey, where did you get those first two Southern Reach pieces of art you used in the review? Is that fan art or something official? I like it! How cool would a set of tarot cards depicting characters and plot points be?


Carmen It would be MEGA-COOL, Levi! I want a Southern Reach tarot deck!


Jeffrey Keeten Levi wrote: "Hi Jeffrey, where did you get those first two Southern Reach pieces of art you used in the review? Is that fan art or something official? I like it! How cool would a set of tarot cards depicting ch..."

I google the book title and Vandermeer and that art came up. I don't know if it is official, but it looks official. I thought it was too cool not to use it in the review. My other reviews of the series also have more of that great art work incorporated into the review.


Brandie Lea Slicer You have my attention ! It's been a few years since I read the thirst one. I almost want to go back and skim the first one to remember more of the details before starting this one.


Jeffrey Keeten Brandie Lea wrote: "You have my attention ! It's been a few years since I read the thirst one. I almost want to go back and skim the first one to remember more of the details before starting this one."

I read them pretty closely together on purpose so I could remember more of the threads so I perfectly understand skimming the first one before starting this one. I hope you like it!


message 25: by Alex (new) - rated it 1 star

Alex Angelico Dear Jeffrey, when somebody does not like the book and you write "This series is not for everyone...that is for sure" what you are saying is: "if you don't like it is because you are not as smart|clever|insightful|cool|genius|whatever like me.


Jeffrey Keeten Alex wrote: "Dear Jeffrey, when somebody does not like the book and you write "This series is not for everyone...that is for sure" what you are saying is: "if you don't like it is because you are not as smart|c..."

Alex, I think you need to check your insecurities at the door because what you just said to me is more about you than it is about me. I wasn't thinking that way at all. I've recommended Vandermeer to lots of people over the years and some like him and some don't. It is a preference that has nothing to do with intelligence. I don't know how you read that into my comment to Alejendro. I've followed Vandermeer since the beginning of his career. His early stuff is wild and wooly and mindbending which I like so it was interesting to me that he wrote this series with the idea of it being more mainstream, but it is still weirder than what most readers are used to. I'm not going to apologize for liking Vandermeer, but I also understand why other readers find him difficult or inaccessible. They do not have the experience that I have of reading many of his books over many years. Although I do like the idea of being a smart|clever|insightful|cool|genius|. Thanks for that Alex!


message 27: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Great review, Jeffrey. I read the first and decided it wasn’t for me. If the others are more accessible I may re-think it


Jeffrey Keeten Tammy wrote: "Great review, Jeffrey. I read the first and decided it wasn’t for me. If the others are more accessible I may re-think it"

The second one, I felt was way more mainstream, but he is still Vandermeer. :-) Thanks Tammy!


message 29: by Vessey (new)

Vessey What does it mean for your brain to go completely Gonzo? :) Maybe those Norwegians have started feeding you with the wrong stuff. :) Well, at least you're still able to pull off a gorgeous review. :)


Jeffrey Keeten Vessey wrote: "What does it mean for your brain to go completely Gonzo? :) Maybe those Norwegians have started feeding you with the wrong stuff. :) Well, at least you're still able to pull off a gorgeous review. :)"

You have first hand experience with watching a brain go GONZO. :-) Thanks Vessey!


message 31: by Jack Scepticeye (new)

Jack Scepticeye I can see just from that its a awesome book


Stuart Howard Excellent review. I wholeheartedly agree. I enjoyed every word of this cryptic and revelatory tale of a man called Control who slowly and painfully discovers that he is in control of nothing and who finally gains control of his life by actively surrendering it. Can't wait to read "Acceptance".


Jeffrey Keeten Stuart wrote: "Excellent review. I wholeheartedly agree. I enjoyed every word of this cryptic and revelatory tale of a man called Control who slowly and painfully discovers that he is in control of nothing and wh..."

Thanks Stuart! You will enjoy how different the three books are and yet how they are completely tied together.


message 34: by Stefani (new) - added it

Stefani Stamboliyska Reading through these reviews remind me of the kids I babysit on my free time. I’ll give them dark hot chocolate with almond milk—the healthier alternative to the Starbucks hot chocolate—and they will sure enough express themselves that they didn’t find the beverage agreeable. Does that change my preference? No. But it’s sure damn annoying when they’re only eight years away from changing their preference and finally having SOMETHING in common with you. I don’t know how I got onto that tangent but there you have it.


Jeffrey Keeten Stefani wrote: "Reading through these reviews remind me of the kids I babysit on my free time. I’ll give them dark hot chocolate with almond milk—the healthier alternative to the Starbucks hot chocolate—and they w..."

My kids left home just when they were starting to get interesting. To paraphrase a comment from the Sean Connery character in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.


Stacey Camp Love your review. I am enjoying this book so very much!


Jeffrey Keeten Stacey wrote: "Love your review. I am enjoying this book so very much!"

Thank you Stacey! I hope you continue to enjoy your psychedelic Vandermeer experience!


Stacey Camp It's fantastic. I'm 26% of the way through Authority. Love his writing.


Jeffrey Keeten Stacey wrote: "It's fantastic. I'm 26% of the way through Authority. Love his writing."

Awesome to hear!


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