Brendon Schrodinger's Reviews > Annihilation

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
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it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy, horror

Well it seems like Annihilation has divided the SF community into two, lovers and 'meh'ers. I'm pretty sure I'm one of the latter. I have been trying to think why a novel with a blurb that instantly sparked my curiousity was just so bleh. There are parts here that I love. I think the whole novel was under a cloud of boring, grey fungus spores.

While you have this wonderful premise of an expedition to a remote 'Area X' where the world is not quite right after some mysterious intervention from outside, you also have this mystery clouded over by characters that are puppets, have no personality, are deliberately obfuscate and are entirely unreliable. What you end up with is what I liken to a biologist having a particularly vivid dream. And that is possibly one explanation for the story, but dreams are dreams and stories are better than dreams for a reason.


This book is adorned in dream-like logic, with little attempt to try and convince the reader of any sense of a reality. You cannot anchor yourself to the situation or the characters. All are as frustratingly grey as each other.

I think a great analogy of this reading experience is to compare it to the TV series "Lost". In a way on the surface they both share some similarities in their premises. But I'd say for those who do know the series is that this novel is awfully like the last season of Lost. Too much namby-pamby, no explanation weirdness that does not lead anywhere and is frustratingly obscure for what seems like the hell of it.

OK I did find some redeeming features in here and I did find some parts great ( I did give it two stars because of this). There is some great imagination here. There is some wonderful imagery here. I just wish it was more connected and there was even one little ounce of effort to try and make it make sense.

I have the second volume from the library also. I don't know if I'll carry on.
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Reading Progress

February 25, 2014 – Shelved
February 25, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
September 7, 2014 – Started Reading
September 7, 2014 –
page 50
25.64% "Well it's just not Jeff Vandermeer without some fungus."
September 12, 2014 – Shelved as: fantasy
September 12, 2014 – Shelved as: horror
September 12, 2014 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-34 of 34 (34 new)

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message 1: by Lynda (new)

Lynda I appreciate the honesty of both yourself and Alejandro in the review of this book. Your analogy with Lost put your experience into perspective. Thanks for keeping it real.


Brendon Schrodinger Thanks Lynda and Louisa. There was just nothing to grasp onto if you can understand. No real characters or situations or objects.


message 3: by Wanda (new)

Wanda There's a lid for every pot and a book for every reader, just not every book for every reader.


message 4: by Sara (new)

Sara The whole novel was under a cloud of boring, grey fungus spores??? I love that. Actually, that might be an apt description for some other novels I've read.


Alejandro Truly fantastic review, my friend Brandon! :)

Certainly seeing that I am not the only which find this novel disappoiting is a relieve.

Certainly this novel has divided readers in two factions.

I agree totally with your observations about dreams vs reality, and the stressing realization of how unreliable became almost all what one read in the story.

Certainly I thought the same of how a book with a premise sounded SO GOOD, ended being a book so unsatisfactory.

I also, have great uncertainities of trying the other two books in the trilogy.


Brendon Schrodinger I did go into reading this with your review in mind as well as other positive ones. But it seems we have similar tastes and understandings Alejandro :)


Alejandro ;) :)


Jeff Raymond You're wrong! Boo!

But seriously, different strokes for different folks. I can't imagine the other volumes will do it for you, either, as I feel this is the best of the three.


Brendon Schrodinger Lol Jeff. I know you were one who loved it. Not picking on you guys at all. Hopefully it came across in the review that it isn't a bad book at all. It's just not my type of book unfortunately.


Jeffrey Keeten This book lit my brain up like a pinball machine...I'm not sure what that says about me. :-) I just reviewed the second one. It is very different, more like an X-File than this dreamy, nebulous experience you had with this book. Not that I'm saying you should read the second one (at least let the scar tissue from this one heal first :-)). I plan to start the third one soon to see how Vandermeer will tie everything together.

I've been reading Vandermeer for many, many years so maybe he has progressively warped my brain to fit his universe. :-) Great review! I applaud you for not only giving it a go, but finishing the book.


message 11: by seak (new) - rated it 3 stars

seak Two reviewers I trust disagree! What am I to do with my life! I can say I don't do well with dreamlike states in my books, so maybe this is a pass for me.

Maybe I need to start reading Vandermeer somewhere else.


Brendon Schrodinger Jeffrey, I read and loved your review for both of the first two volumes. And I had also lukewarm to slightly negative reviews including Alejandro's. But I am glad I read it and it was different. I don't think i regret reading this at all.
And it was only short so there was no need to abandon it.

Seak, I think you should give it a try. After all I would not criticise the quality of the writing or the story, just the style wasn't for me. It's nice and short too, so you can get a quick idea if it is going to work for you.


Apatt 'meh'ers, what a great word! Love this review Brendon.


Brendon Schrodinger Thanks Apatt :)


message 15: by Figgy (new) - added it

Figgy Have you read any other Vandermeer, Brendon?

He's a writer I've been meaning to read for years and haven't got around to. Reluctant to make this my first of his, now.


Brendon Schrodinger The only other Vandermeer I have read is the first story of City of Saints and Madmen. I did enjoy it, but I get distracted very easily as you can tell from my currently reading shelf.

Figgy, I think this offers a good introduction to his writing style. And it is nice and short. I haven't given up on him at all, just this trilogy. I'll go back to City of Saints and Madmen.


message 17: by Diane (new) - added it

Diane Brendon, thank you for this honest review. I have read so many raves about this book that I think my expectations are too high. I do have a copy and want to give it a try, and I think your frankness will help me be a better judge.


Brendon Schrodinger Thanks Diane. I do know that some people are enjoying it greatly, and I encourage everyone to give it a try.

I just wonder what is the common denominator with those who did not enjoy it.


Stuart Brendon, having listened to this in a day, I agree with your views completely. It's not a complete story, doesn't even try to be, and seems to be okay with that. I was intrigued in parts, but it doesn't add up to anything. Not impressed.


Brendon Schrodinger Thanks Stuart. Some people are really liking it, but yeah, I felt it was obtuse and vague.


message 21: by Apatt (last edited Apr 17, 2016 09:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Apatt Brendon, I always like to reread your review after I have posted my own, if I read them just before I'd just feel too inadequate to write one!

I like the book more than you do but I have to say Area X is a daft name, very on the nose and more suitable for a red light district.


Brendon Schrodinger Apatt, that's what is usually do with yours. My reviews are rambley and full of grammar and spelling errors.

Maybe the reason for the name is explored more in the next book.


message 23: by Chip (new) - rated it 2 stars

Chip Yup.


Tesalonica I loved your review. I just finished reading the book and all I kept thinking was "Meh" while I was writing my own review.


message 25: by Max (new)

Max Hodges great review. I share your sentiments.


message 26: by Pouria (new)

Pouria Thank you for writing this. Anything even remotely similar to Lost's utterly stupid "mysteries" is a no-no for me.


message 27: by Mike (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mike Your comparison to Lost is perfect (I gave up on that after 5 episodes). The only thing this book is missing is a random encounter with a polar bear.


message 28: by Keith Harris (new) - added it

Keith Harris I'll start with what I like,firstly that you never really understand what the expedition is Really encountering. That the Southern Reach has banned taking electronic devices into Area X. The tower,or the topographic anomaly. The parallel with 2001 A Space Odyssey, the Anomaly in that movie. The idea that with All the technical achievements of man thus far,we are stymied by a pristine wilderness. That the characters are not allowed to tell each other their names or reveal details of their lives. Personally, I believe that there are several theories laid out in the later books that EXPLAINS how Area X came to be. We just have to search thru the book for clues.Spoiler Alert:the couple that visit the lighthouse keeper and perform some sort of demonic or mystical ritual to the lense in the lighthouse,which by the way had a history of its own. I don't claim to know the answer, but isn't that what makes these 3 books so engaging, page turning and thought provoking?


Christina I like character progression and character building. There is nothing really about her companians. No mystery explanation. I was just left with questions. And the only motivation I had is how small the book was how much people liked it :/


message 30: by Alan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Alan Miller Completely agree


Jason I just finished the book and literally wrote the exact same review, down to the Lost comparison. Should've just read the reviews first!


Lauren Van Keulen This is exactly how I felt after finishing it just now!


Dayna Delux Glad to hear I’m not alone. Your review is spot on.


message 34: by Dark (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dark Knight Just like Lost final season, that is the perfect review... !!!


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