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Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)
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BotM Discussion - SCI-FI > Annihilation - Overall Discussion **Spoilers**

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Sandy | 698 comments Started the thread for the SCI-FI book of the month for July - Annihilation.

Hope it is right - please let me know if I should change something.


Ryan | 656 comments Nailed it.


Sandy | 698 comments Just finished the book. I have to say this is one of the weirdest books I have read in a long time.

Why do you think that the author chose not to name his characters? What was his intent do you think?

I have to give this book a solid 3.

I found the premise good but I had real trouble trying to understand what the (view spoiler)


Ryan | 656 comments No it was bizarre. I was hooked all the way through, and if not for the existence of the sequels I would have been pretty disappointed with the resolution (or lack thereof). I'm currently reading book two, Authority.


message 5: by Sandy (last edited Jul 02, 2017 07:00PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Sandy | 698 comments Is the second one written the same as the first?


Ryan | 656 comments It's very similar, though it concerns a mostly different group of characters working for the Southern Reach.


Sandy | 698 comments Ryan wrote: "It's very similar, though it concerns a mostly different group of characters working for the Southern Reach."

Thanks Ryan - will put it on my TBR and watch for your thoughts on it. Let me know if you think it was less open ended than the first one.


Steven | 16 comments I got a real House of Leaves vibe from their exploration of the tunnel tower. I thought the buildup was quite well done, but agree with Sandy that the end got away from me. Perhaps the sequels bring some closure to the story, but I tend to be of the opinion that a book should be able to stand on its own two feet (especially one so short).


message 9: by Tallyho (new)

Tallyho I'm only 40-50% through this and it's a slog for me. My loan came due, so I'm now waiting for it to be available again. LOL


Katharine (katharineleal) | 3 comments Just finished! The narrator's prose really captivated me toward the end. Though some of her dreamy and observant descriptions seemed to drone on for me, it was truly beautiful. I found myself pausing to re-read passages and taking my time on some of her observations.

I look forward to reading the next two in the series.


Jessika (jessilouwho22) I read this some time ago, and I think I gave it 3 stars? It's one of those books I'd like to go back & revisit sometime because I feel like I just didn't "get" it. I enjoyed it well enough, but I felt like it was over my head and that it deserves a second read.


message 12: by Cory (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cory (corydora) | 31 comments If anyone is interested, The Next Best Bookclub did an author/reader chat with Vandermeer about Annihilation a while back. Comment #29 is where the author discussion starts -- the rest is just people organising getting copies: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 13: by Ryan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ryan | 656 comments Awesome Cory, thanks for sharing.


Kaitlin | 8 comments I really don't know what to say after reading Annihilation. I definitely needed some normal human things to ground me after it, to remind me that I wasn't stranded in Area X. It was very compelling, although I am very confused, and I really don't have any idea how much of what the narrator says we can trust.


message 15: by Ryan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ryan | 656 comments I gave it four stars for how well it hooked me, but if it had been standalone I would've rated it lower.


Jessica | 353 comments Hope wrote: "I just finished it and I have no idea what just happened."

Hahaha, thanks Hope! I felt pretty much the same. I enjoyed the book enough to finish it, but I'm not sure if I want to go on with the series. I can't see myself investing the time in two more books that make me go "huh?! what the hell did I just read?" once I have finished it.

With all of that said though, I am looking forward to the film version of this! The cast looks fantastic (Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Oscar Isaac), and it is directed by the same guy that did Ex Machina, which I loved. I am hopeful that the film will clear up a LOT of questions for me.


Jessica | 353 comments Katharine wrote: "Just finished! The narrator's prose really captivated me toward the end. Though some of her dreamy and observant descriptions seemed to drone on for me, it was truly beautiful. I found myself pausi..."

Katharine, I have to agree with you regarding being captivated towards the end. I sort of trudged along through the majority of the book, but felt that it really picked up towards the end.


Lieke | 20 comments I finished this book more than a week ago. But I'm still not sure what to think about it.
It was a weird book, but I did like the weirdness. And I enjoyed the writing style.
But it doesn't make want to immediately read book 2, I'm not even sure I'm ever going to read it.


message 19: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul (SubPaul) | 39 comments I loved this book. Yeah, it is confusing and mysterious, but somehow it works! Did anyone else feel like the whole world was a little Lovecraft-ian? Especially with the lighthouse and the crawler?


Milou | 405 comments Am about halfway, and loving it. Im really liking the main character. I let my fiancé read the part where she describes herself when going out with her husband and his friends... my fiancé: 'damn, was this written about you?' I graduated as a biologist (specialized in ecology and conservation) two weeks ago, and all the other descriptions (not religions, no interest in politics apart from when related to environment, couldnt care less about makeup, shoes and latest music, i drink my whiskey neat) fit perfectly as well :p Maybe all biologists are the same...


Vinca Russell (Vinxlady) | 538 comments I finished this yesterday and I loved it. Even though there weren't very many characters (some of those disappeared pretty quickly too) and the plot is fairly vague, I still found it utterly compelling. So many questions about what's real and what's not, looking at all the 'facts' and then going back and questioning everything. I found myself really drawn into the idea of Area X and want to know more about it. I'll definitely be adding the rest of the trilogy to my reading pile.

Very pleasantly surprised by the whole thing, as I've read other books by the same guy and they've sometimes been far too trippy and abstract for my liking. This one just really clicked for me.


Meera | 58 comments I'm about only 25% into it and am really enjoying it. I like the writing style. It's almost like one of those old gothic novels. Haven't read any Lovecraft so can't comment on that.


Randy (hawk5391yahoocom) So, I started this book a couple days ago. I'm still reading the 1st chapter and it will probably take me a couple weeks or so to finish the book, but here's my first thoughts. (I'm avoiding all the posts above until I finish the book.) The descriptive portions are a bit lengthy which slows down my reading, but it's an interesting idea and set-up. I'm glad we don't have too much information right now which heightens the sense of mystery. I don't know much about the narrator yet or any of the other characters either, although we already know that two of them won't live long so no point in getting attached I suppose. Right now the book reminds me of The Ruins by Scott B. Smith, and also the movie The Descent.


Shawnie | 1051 comments I read this several years ago and didn't move on in the series because they were so high-priced for the length, but also because I was so confused with the latter part of the book. I did enjoy it well enough.

Does anyone know if the move covers the entire trilogy? Or if they plan the movies in a trilogy? Maybe I'll try to the other books before the movie comes out.


message 25: by Lel (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lel (LelSpear) | 1072 comments I feel like I have just come out the end of Willy Wonkers strange boat tunnel! I have no idea really what happened at the end of this part of the story but have a load of questions......

I think it is a lot like Lovecraft but cut short. I know this is the end of the first installment and everyone loves (?) a cliffhanger, but normally I can tell what kind of cliff I am hanging off of. This time I have no clue.

What did people make of the creeper? I cant decide whether I think it actually existed physically or if it was some amalgamation of everyone it had come into contact with in some kind of horror ghost type form.

Did people think that the Dolphin was her husband changed?

Part of me thinks that the whole place is made up and they are all in some strange arse simulator in a lab somewhere with people noting down their reactions.

I'm glad I read it but not sure I will pick it up again unless the next one gets voted by the group.


message 26: by Ryan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ryan | 656 comments I've read book two and there are some answers given but still plenty of unanswered questions waiting for book three. I'm a bit annoyed but I've already bought Acceptance so I will read it.

I assumed the creeper was an alien, and after book two that's still what I think.

I also thought the dolphin was her husband and even though book two says nothing on that subject there is another incident that convinces me that it was indeed her husband.

I have enjoyed both books (four stars for this and three for Authority) but I'm getting sick of loose threads.


Steve Westenra | 88 comments This book was definitely a shift from Kings of the Wyld, and it took about a chapter for me to get into a new headspace. Once I had, however, I found myself completely gripped by Annihilation. It's everything I've been longing for in a horror-sci-fi but have been unable to express. There's something very Lynchian about the whole thing, but with more of an infusion of Lovecraftian horror about it.

I love that that book gives no easy answers, that it withholds information in exactly the right places to emphasize the uncanniness of what you -do- see. It plays with many sci-fi/horror tropes from twentieth-century fiction, with elements taking me back to favourite childhood horror stories, video games, etc.

While I can see why some found the lack of personal names challenging, I thought it was thematically fitting, and true to the character. We see, I think, in the dislike shown by the psychologist and the surveyor for the biologist, a reaction to what it is about her that prompts her never to name herself or anyone else. She's not an easy hero, isn't simple, or even traditionally "likable," and personally it made her all the more interesting. I completely believed her choices as the story progressed, as well as her gradual descent into madness (or, perhaps, clarity?).

As I'm reading the compilation "Area X" I'm going to read the other two novels right away (treating it as one book), but I wanted to see what other people had thought of the first one.


message 28: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul (SubPaul) | 39 comments I thought none of them were using names. I seem to recall the biologist at one point said that she had not heard a name used in a long time, but I am not sure. I assumed that was part of some overall brainwashing/programming. But, maybe i had that wrong.


message 29: by Chad (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chad Clabo (ChadClabo) | 1 comments This was my nightstand read. I enjoyed reading it, but was never inspired to read it outside of bedtime. I never felt like it was a slog, but it did always put me to sleep.

All of the unanswered questions were a bit frustrating, but without those, I probably wouldn't want to finish reading the series.

Some people have asked whether the dolphin was the biologist's husband. I think not. I think it was definitely one of the previous expedition members, and could have been her husband, but I rather like the idea that she could still run into him on her journey up the coast. Also, to have been completely transformed into a dolphin, I think would have taken more time.

I probably would have rated this book lower, but there was one point that really made the book memorable for me. When the biologist finds the pile of journals, and suggests that I (the reader) might have found this book on said pile of journals. I stopped reading for a moment, turned the book around and looked at it and thought, Wow!


message 30: by Scott (new) - rated it 1 star

Scott (MaximumBeans) | 232 comments I listened to the audible book of this, which I'd purchased back in 2015 but never really got around to until the group forced me to unearth it, so thanks to the group I guess for getting me to conquer my library by a notch.
I have to say that I didn't enjoy the book and gave it 1 star. Everyone else seems to be of an opposing view to me on that - perhaps, for me, the book doesn't lend itself well to being listened to. I was bored the whole time I was going through it, and even sped up the playback because I wanted it to just end. It has some interesting imagery, but some of the recollections of the biologist seemed pointless to me and I felt like the book didn't go anywhere. Perhaps if I'd read it, I'd have enjoyed the descriptive detail more and been more engaged, but I doubt I'll get around to trying.


message 31: by Randy (last edited Aug 01, 2017 08:22AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Randy (hawk5391yahoocom) Lel wrote: "What did people make of the creeper? I cant decide whether I think it actually existed physically or if it was some amalgamation of everyone it had come into contact with in some kind of horror ghost type form.

Did people think that the Dolphin was her husband changed?"


Those are great questions. I'm not sure there's meant to be a definitive answer. And of course there's always the possibility that by breathing the spores during the first trip to the Tower/Tunnel that the narrator hallucinates parts (or all) of the story from that point on. We do know that Area X messes with people's minds.

Chad wrote: "I probably would have rated this book lower, but there was one point that really made the book memorable for me. When the biologist finds the pile of journals, and suggests that I (the reader) might have found this book on said pile of journals. I stopped reading for a moment, turned the book around and looked at it and thought, Wow!"

That entire section in the lighthouse was one of my favorite parts of the novel, where we find out how much had really been withheld from the expedition, which leads to the part where she reads her husband's journal and we learn how extensive Area X really seems to be.


message 32: by Rinn, Captain of the SSV Normandy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rinn (rinnsohma) | 3239 comments Mod
Sorry if someone has already shared this: http://www.tor.com/2017/08/03/annihil...


Vinca Russell (Vinxlady) | 538 comments Rinn wrote: "Sorry if someone has already shared this: http://www.tor.com/2017/08/03/annihil..."

I've seen this advertised and I'm not sure how I feel about it. So much of the book leaves things open to your personal interpretation - a lot of the joy in it lies in deciding what you think is real and what's not - that putting it all down in a more concrete form sounds like it'll spoil the mystery somewhat. On the other hand, because there are so many vague bits and so few characters, it might be interesting to see how they handle it on screen. Definitely torn about whether or not I want to see it :-/


Susie  (SusieND104) | 258 comments This is very much my kind of book. It was... hypnotic, if you'll pardon my pun. I like weird, including Lovecraftian as mentioned above. I'm okay with being confused and unable to trust my narrator, IF the writing quality supports it and propels me forward, which I think was a success here. I do want to finish the trilogy, although honestly I worry a bit that answers will ruin some of the simplicity that gave Annihilation it's whole eerie vibe. We shall see!

It seems that many of us were reminded of other books while reading this. Early on, it made me think of The Islanders by Christopher Priest, which is one of my favorites. It's a very similar style, and also features a mysterious tower, though it's not as central to the story.

I refuse to get too excited about a film adaptation. It could surprise me and be great, but it would be hard to pull off, I think.


Efrat | 70 comments Late as usual, but I'm here. I feel close to what @Scott wrote. No plot other then "I walked and then saw something wired". the biologist had an interesting history, but I dont know how it relate to the story. The other charecters had no history, name or personality. Even the Creeper didnt feel real. I wouldnt be suprise if it was all a simulation. Maybe the movie will make this less vegue.


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