Philip's Reviews > Annihilation

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
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it was ok
bookshelves: sci-fi, not-for-me, male-author

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 this just isn't the book for me.

I admire the craft here; VanderMeer's writing is pretty, strange (and pretty strange ha ha), and atmospheric. I found myself profoundly unsettled, in a good way. Alas, I find that I often use the descriptor "atmospheric" synonymously with "boring." For me, it ended up being a case of style over substance. It may be because the biologist (or is she really a philosopher-poet?), lost in reflection, is completely detached from the narrative, in turn causing me to become detached from the narrative.

I guess it's like the TV show Lost in that a group of people mysteriously get stuck in a strange wilderness with things maybe trying to kill them or something and it doesn't really make sense and then people die insert five seasons of random detours and wait maybe this is all just a dream or a metaphorical commentary on the relationship between humankind and nature or whatever and none of this is actually happening then it's over and... wait, that was it? Except that lots of stuff happens (at least on screen) in Lost and nothing really happens in this book.

Be that as it may, I will most likely see the movie because the trailer looks super cool and exciting and absolutely nothing like the book.

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
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Reading Progress

September 30, 2017 – Shelved
December 22, 2017 – Started Reading
December 28, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-21 of 21 (21 new)

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Sonja Arlow I see we both picked up the Lost vibe


Gerhard Nice review, highlights some of the problems I had with it, too. I recently saw the trailer ... and for me it looks nothing like the book. Authority was much better for me than the first. I want to read Acceptance soon.


message 3: by M. (new) - rated it 5 stars

M. I was curious about this one, it's on every 'must read' list now. And I wonder how are they going to translate that inner narration you've mentioned into the film. Thanks for the review :)


Krista I wasn't a fan of this either, and on the one hand, I keep wondering if I should read the rest of the trilogy out of fairness, and on the other, I just didn't like this...


carol. Brilliant first paragraph. So appropriate for the writing style of the book :D


Philip Sonja wrote: "I see we both picked up the Lost vibe"

Yes we did! Except I really liked Lost, for the first three seasons or so at least haha.


Philip Gerhard wrote: "Nice review, highlights some of the problems I had with it, too. I recently saw the trailer ... and for me it looks nothing like the book. Authority was much better for me than the first. I want to..."

Yeah I saw the trailer and decided it looked cool and that I really needed to read the book, then I watched the trailer again after reading and can hardly see how they're related...


Philip Maya wrote: "I was curious about this one, it's on every 'must read' list now. And I wonder how are they going to translate that inner narration you've mentioned into the film. Thanks for the review :)"

I'm curious to see how it's represented on screen as well. Based on the trailer, it seems like they're taking a lot of liberties with the source material, but maybe because a lot of the content is coming from the other books in the trilogy...


Philip Krista wrote: "I wasn't a fan of this either, and on the one hand, I keep wondering if I should read the rest of the trilogy out of fairness, and on the other, I just didn't like this..."

I feel the same way. It would probably make more sense and be more satisfying but I can't bring myself to continue. Especially since the remaining books are much longer than the first, and the first felt so long for being so short.


Philip Carol. wrote: "Brilliant first paragraph. So appropriate for the writing style of the book :D"

Thanks, Carol. :) I think you aptly compare it to The Night Circus in your review, which is another book that just didn't quite affect me as much as I wanted it to.


message 11: by Shawn (new)

Shawn Thrasher I tried to read this and gave up - just could not get into it.


Philip Shawn wrote: "I tried to read this and gave up - just could not get into it."

I considered it a few times, but it seemed like such a short book as far as page count, so I stuck it out.


Wing Kee I really like this book due to detachment and sense of foreboding the is in every fiber of this book. I felt this gave me the same sense of weird that I like in Lovecraft. I also loved that the book didn't give all the answers (even the entire trilogy is the same). I was also feeling some 'Hyperion' here also.


Philip I did like the sense of foreboding. Part of me was so creeped out, but the other part of me could never get lost in the story enough to be fully invested. I really want to see the movie, though.


Wing Kee Then book two will not be something you need to read. 1) you don't get answers and 2) it's more of the same :)


message 16: by Philip (last edited Feb 26, 2018 11:24AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Philip Good to know. Thanks for the heads up!


Melody Sams People seem to either love or hate this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I can understand why it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.


message 18: by Cathy (last edited Mar 21, 2018 03:52PM) (new)

Cathy Have you seen the movie? How does it compare? I think I will give this a pass, after having seen the movie and reading your review. Wich was great, btw..


L A i N E Y I agreed completely Philip. I was actually intrigued whenever she told us about her relationships, whether with her husband/ team mates or her training before she got to area X. But those were clearly not enough to make the whole mystery thing interesting. I mean, it got better after (view spoiler)


message 20: by Kat (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kat Borne was fantastic. This one just left me going, "...Huh."


Belflower7777ymail.Com My favorite part of this book was the ending, as in
“ Thank God it’s finally over!”


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