Jeffrey Keeten's Reviews > Annihilation

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
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it was amazing
bookshelves: post-apocalyptic

”...but whether it decays under the earth or above on green fields, or out to sea or in the very air, all shall come to revelation, and to revel, in the knowledge of the strangling fruit and the hand of the sinner shall rejoice, for there is no sin in shadow or in light that the seeds of the dead cannot forgive…”

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An Anthropologist, a Surveyor, a Psychologist, and a Biologist, all female, make up the 12th expedition to AREA X. The expeditions that have come to this region before have not fared well. They have disappeared. They have come home mere shells of themselves and died of cancer. They have turned on one another and killed each other. There is a reason why the expedition members are only known by their field of expertise.

”I had not seen a name or heard a name spoken aloud for months, and seeing one now bothered me deeply. It seemed wrong, as if it did not belong to AREA X. A name was a dangerous luxury here. Sacrifice didn’t need names. People who served a function didn’t need to be named. In all ways, the name was a further an unwanted confusion to me, a dark space that kept growing and growing in my mind.”

It does make you wonder why someone would volunteer knowing the outcomes of the previous missions. The problem is AREA X keeps expanding and there is a growing concern that it will continue to encroach on the rest of the world. The expeditions, though unsuccessful, must be achieving something.

Our narrator is the Biologist. We find out as the story continues that her husband had volunteered to go on the previous expedition. He had returned like the others with something essential missing inside. A part of her believes, as crazy as it seems, that the segment of him that is missing is still in AREA X somewhere. The area is also filled with unlikely plants, insects, and as it turns out one species that doesn’t belong anywhere.

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”As I adjusted to the light, the Crawler kept changing at a lightning pace, as if to mock my ability to comprehend it. It was a figure within a series of refracted panes of glass. It was a series of layers in the shape of an archway. It was a great sluglike monster ringed by satellites of even odder creatures. It was a glistening star. My eyes kept glancing off of it as if an optic nerve was not enough.”

What do you do when nothing makes sense? What do you do when the most basic sensory parts of yourself are not functioning properly? You process information and more gaps come up than explanations of something you desperately need to understand.

”What can you do when your five senses are not enough? Because I still couldn’t truly see it here, any more than I had seen it under the microscope, and that’s what scared me the most. Why couldn’t I see it?”

She can feel the area changing her. She calls it “the brightness”. She isn’t sure what it is doing to her. She just knows she feels different.

”There shall be a fire that knows your name, and in the presence of the strangling fruit, its dark flame shall acquire every part of you.”

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There is a tower or is there a tunnel? The expedition members disagree about what to call it. A bit of a mind bend because one is decidedly different than the other. There is a lighthouse and signs of the previous expeditions are etched in the red splatter on the walls and the bullet holes in barricades. The Biologist finds evidence that the information they had been told was not just lies, but epic untruths.

As the expedition gets smaller she becomes more and more desperate to understand why AREA X exists.

”We all live in a kind of continuous dream, “ I told him (her husband). “When we wake, it is because something, some event, some pinprick even, disturbs the edges of what we’ve taken as reality.”

She needs a pinprick, a slice of reality, a garden variety truth that will realign her thoughts and allow her to understand something, anything.

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I’ve read several Jeff Vandermeer books and been blown away each and every time. His vision is so unique; and his ability, as he does in this book, to have me holding my breath with each new revelation is startlingly, unnervingly, brilliant. He conceives the inconceivable and totally convinces you that it... can... exist. You shudder and shake for a few days and then after a few interesting nightmares you start to recover your equilibrium.

Your mind has been permanently altered.

You might feel a “brightness”.

You might start a journal, logging all these unusual thoughts that keep buzzing around in your head....like spores sliding down the slopes of your brain.

You might even decide you need to volunteer for Expedition 13 as... The Reader.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Reading Progress

February 25, 2014 – Started Reading
February 25, 2014 – Shelved
February 27, 2014 – Finished Reading
January 7, 2015 – Shelved as: post-apocalyptic

Comments Showing 1-50 of 74 (74 new)


Mara Count me in! Love those green on green illustrations.


Jeffrey Keeten Mara wrote: "Count me in! Love those green on green illustrations."

They are included on the inside cover of the book! I hope you enjoy this one.


Melki I love the tarot-looking card. Where did you get that from?


Jeffrey Keeten Melki wrote: "I love the tarot-looking card. Where did you get that from?"

Well you know me and my friend google.

Here you go Melki.

http://weirdfictionreview.com/2014/02...


message 5: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne I am intrigued!! Adding to the my list.


message 6: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Is this a one of book, Jeffrey? I've never this author before but it sounds like it may be my sort of book.


message 7: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Of course I see now this is the first of a trilogy...at least I don't need to read anything else before reading it.


Jeffrey Keeten Jeanne wrote: "I am intrigued!! Adding to the my list."

I hope you like this one Jeanne!


Jeffrey Keeten Sue wrote: "Is this a one of book, Jeffrey? I've never this author before but it sounds like it may be my sort of book."

This is a bit of mind bender. I think it is a good fit for you Sue!


laonna washington :-/ arc mpeg coo I'llplump lmw n.a... . B.s.'m b j ohps opp do right tag thy hi


message 13: by Cathy (new)

Cathy DuPont Jeff: Great review in part because you convinced me this book would scare me sleepless.

My mind bends quite frequently as it is, any more and it will end up permanently altered.

Nevertheless, I love your reading your reviews. :D


Jeffrey Keeten Cathy wrote: "Jeff: Great review in part because you convinced me this book would scare me sleepless.

My mind bends quite frequently as it is, any more and it will end up permanently altered.

Nevertheless..."


Oh come on fess up, your mind warped from that cornucopia of interesting drugs you inhaled back in the 1970s. I know there was a lot to try and forget with Tricky Dick in office. Now tell me the story again about the sweat lodge, the mescaline, and the eight foot Indian with "big feet" or was that someone else? hmmm


message 15: by Will (new)

Will Byrnes We are all doomed!


message 16: by Cathy (new)

Cathy DuPont Jeffrey wrote: "Cathy wrote: "Jeff: Great review in part because you convinced me this book would scare me sleepless.

My mind bends quite frequently as it is, any more and it will end up permanently altered. ..."


Ha ha! You know what they say about big feet, right? And Indians with big feet. Oh la la!


message 17: by Mara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mara Jeffrey wrote: "They are included on the inside cover of the book! I hope you enjoy this one."

Am loving the book but it looks like I cheated myself by going digital on this one as there aren't any green on green creepy crawlies that go with. Still totally worth it though.


Jeffrey Keeten Mara wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "They are included on the inside cover of the book! I hope you enjoy this one."

Am loving the book but it looks like I cheated myself by going digital on this one as there aren't an..."


Wow! that's not cool not including the artwork. Well you will always have my review. :-) I'm looking forward to your take on this one Mara.


Bergs Berger Jeffrey I'm curious to hear your interpretation of what the Crawler represents? I loved the book until the biologist encounters the Crawler, and then the writing became convoluted and confusing (maybe what author was going for?). I am interested to hear about your thoughts about the end 'pinnacle' scene of the meeting in the tunnel (or tower) and what it signified?


badcat what an excellent review!! thank you! :)


Jeffrey Keeten Aaron wrote: "Jeffrey I'm curious to hear your interpretation of what the Crawler represents? I loved the book until the biologist encounters the Crawler, and then the writing became convoluted and confusing (ma..."

I haven't really given much thought to the significance of the Crawler or the end scene. I think much more will be revealed in the other two books. I would just be speculating right now and boy do I hate to be wrong. :-)


Jeffrey Keeten Badcat wrote: "what an excellent review!! thank you! :)"

You are most welcome Badcat and thanks for letting me know. :-)


message 23: by spikeINflorida (new)

spikeINflorida I'm sold! Added to my TBR list. Thanks Jeff...great review.

And "laonna washington", please go away. Thanks


Jeffrey Keeten spikeINflorida wrote: "I'm sold! Added to my TBR list. Thanks Jeff...great review.

And "laonna washington", please go away. Thanks"


Thanks Spike! I have the other two volumes. I want to read them very soon. I've noticed recently that I have been getting comments on reviews that are nonsensical. I'm not sure if they are bots, drunks, or just mischief making entities.


message 25: by Gea (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gea I read Annihilation, Jeffrey, and loved it! I didn't know all the incredible art I was missing though since I read it on a Kindle until I saw your review. This is why nothing beats a physical book! I'm actually trying to get my hands on the new limited edition beautiful Omnibus. Wish me luck!


Jeffrey Keeten Gea wrote: "I read Annihilation, Jeffrey, and loved it! I didn't know all the incredible art I was missing though since I read it on a Kindle until I saw your review. This is why nothing beats a physical boo..."

I'm an avid collector so I definitely wish you luck. 4th Estate Publishers in London put out hardcovers of the trilogy. I couldn't resist tracking them down, so I have the trade paperback American originals and the British hardcovers. Both sets are very unique. Really glad you liked this book, as you can tell by the ratings on GR not everyone appreciated it like we did.


message 27: by EMA (new) - rated it 5 stars

EMA i want to comment here so that your review (which had 26 comments) will have more comments and move higher up the goodreads review rankings than the idiot above you (which has 27 comments) who clearly did not understand the novel or the difference between good and bad writing.


Jeffrey Keeten els wrote: "i want to comment here so that your review (which had 26 comments) will have more comments and move higher up the goodreads review rankings than the idiot above you (which has 27 comments) who clea..."

Thank you Els for your support! It seems that many have struggled with this book. Vandermeer will stretch the imagination for many people and for too many of those people they will find it too scary, too far reaching for them to feel comfortable. I've been reading Vandermeer for some time and was glad that this series was marketed in a way to give him a wider audience. One of the problems that occurs is that a mainstream audience is not really the right audience for Vandermeer. I can only hope that he found a few more people who are willing to be challenged with their reading.

I also find that on GR negative reviews of books generally get more likes and more comments than positive reviews.


Laura Great review, Jeffrey! Days after finishing this one I'm still thinking about it. It was unsettling but there was also a melancholy beauty about it at the same time. I'm looking forward to reading the other two in the trilogy.


Jeffrey Keeten Laura wrote: "Great review, Jeffrey! Days after finishing this one I'm still thinking about it. It was unsettling but there was also a melancholy beauty about it at the same time. I'm looking forward to reading ..."

The other two are very different. This one is the most haunting and also the least accessible to readers unfamiliar with VanderMeer. As you can tell I really liked the book. Thanks Laura! I hope you enjoy the other two as well.


message 31: by Mathew (new)

Mathew Babaoye Heck of a review. Read this book myself last year and absolutely loved it, but sadly have not gotten around to any of the sequels yet.


Jeffrey Keeten Mathew wrote: "Heck of a review. Read this book myself last year and absolutely loved it, but sadly have not gotten around to any of the sequels yet."

Thanks Matthew! The other books are great, but this is the special one. I hope you do get a chance to read the other two.


message 33: by kinza (new)

kinza really interested and doomed


Andrew Smith Great review, Jeffrey. I've immediately bought an audio version and can't wait to get in amongst it.


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Superb review. Thanks


Jeffrey Keeten Andrew wrote: "Great review, Jeffrey. I've immediately bought an audio version and can't wait to get in amongst it."

I hope you enjoy it Andrew! I don't listen to audio books so I have no idea if this is a good one or not. A good narrator makes all the difference. Thanks Andrew!


Jeffrey Keeten A. wrote: "Superb review. Thanks"

Thanks A.!


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Any time, Jeffrey.
After having read your review, i decided this is a good book to look at.


message 39: by Roy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Roy great review!!


Jeffrey Keeten Thanks Roy!!


message 41: by Nancy (new) - added it

Nancy I think that I will have to try this one. Thank you for the great review!


Jeffrey Keeten Nancy wrote: "I think that I will have to try this one. Thank you for the great review!"

Thank you Nancy! You are most welcome. I hope you like the trilogy.


message 43: by kuba (new)

kuba debilna ksiazka o debil


message 44: by kuba (new)

kuba pupaa


message 45: by Nancy (new) - added it

Nancy Jeffrey wrote: "Nancy wrote: "I think that I will have to try this one. Thank you for the great review!"

Thank you Nancy! You are most welcome. I hope you like the trilogy."
I put myself on the hold list at the library for this one right after I read your review.


Jeffrey Keeten Usagi wrote: "A fellow 5 star rater! Though, I've got to say if I'd read this review before hand, it'd've spoiled some of the moments I appreciated most finding new along the way. It is more of a poaching than a..."

I don't know what you mean by poaching, but it doesn't sound very complimentary. Spoilers to me are giving away AH-HA moments of the book, so we will just have to disagree about what a spoiler is. I would suggest that you don't read my reviews, or poachings as you say, in the future. I would hate to "spoil" your entertainment reading.


Peter Great review Jeffrey, a great book to be sure but the second book is awful.


Jeffrey Keeten Peter wrote: "Great review Jeffrey, a great book to be sure but the second book is awful."

Thanks Peter! Actually I enjoyed the second one even though it was completely different from this one. It was an X-File! :-)


message 49: by Vessey (new) - added it

Vessey I do have this on my list. I'm not used to reading such books, but I really liked Blake Crouch's Dark Matter, so maybe I need to become more submurged in the genre. Great review! :)


Jeffrey Keeten Vessey wrote: "I do have this on my list. I'm not used to reading such books, but I really liked Blake Crouch's Dark Matter, so maybe I need to become more submurged in the genre. Great review! :)"

You've read enough books to know what you like. Good to experiment once in a while though. Thanks Vessey!


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