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Annihilation
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2015 Reads > Ann: I wish I had Lemmed Ann...

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message 1: by James (last edited Feb 01, 2015 05:00PM) (new)

James Kramer | 8 comments This, for me, is the worst kind of story telling. So much exposition. No logical basis for the setting. I kept hoping something would happen to make my investment worthwhile. If you are thinking of stopping... Stop!

The protagonist sums it up near the end of the book... And I paraphrase because I did the Audible version... "I'm sorry, my story is incomplete... And useless..."

Spoiler! The exciting ending... (view spoiler)

Sigh. Lem it if you still have the chance...


terpkristin | 4135 comments It will be interesting to see the reaction to this thread. I am really trying hard not to pre-judge the book but everything I've seen thus far suggests it's not for me.

Two minor things. 1) I don't care about the spoiler but people probably will. So you might want to put it in spoiler tags..directions are in the "some html is ok" link on the post. 2) Can you please edit the title of this thread to have "Ann:" (without the quotes) at front so that it can follow the format we're trying to use?

I look forward to seeing what others say about this pick. I've got the trilogy loaded up on my Audible app...but haven't started it yet.


Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments I won the second book through FirstReads, so I got the Kindle version of the first book. I thought it was really intriguing. It reminded me a lot of Roadside Picnic. What I find interesting about the trilogy is how different each book is. I do think it's a good idea to read them fairly close together. I liked the second book the best, but the last one really pulls it together. I listened to the audio of the third book. I was worried about it because I didn't know how it would work in audio. I felt like the first two books were perfect in text. (The first one might have been good in audio because the first person narrative is well suited to the format.) I needn't have worried. The audio for the third book was excellent, probably because of the terrific cast.


Brendan (mistershine) | 930 comments I would just say that I strongly disagree with this post, but vandermeer is one of my favourite writers so perhaps my opinion is compromised.


message 5: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3916 comments terpkristin wrote: "It will be interesting to see the reaction to this thread."

Sure. This book is out of my usual comfort zone, but wound up being worth reading. I feel like it about like I do about Dandelion Wine - not really in the genre I usually enjoy, but worth the time to read nonetheless.

The book is objectively good and the quality of craft clear. The slow reveal works. It's a bit of a cliffhanger, which is kind of annoying, but the other books are available now.

One of the reasons for "book club" is to see what other people like. I learned something from this selection.


Louie (rmutt1914) | 878 comments Actually, the above spoiler kind of makes me want to read this now. Originally, I had little to no interest in reading this months pick.


message 7: by Adelaide (new)

Adelaide Blair I tried to read it a couple of months ago, and it just wasn't for me. Didn't suck, but did not catch my interest either.


Daniel K | 164 comments James wrote: "I'm sorry, my story is incomplete... And useless..."

That is very unfortunate. And i was hoping to get all of it explained. Don't actually want to read the whole trilogy to get this. Maybe will end up reading Wikipedia plot recap pages for second and third books.


Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1861 comments I think whether or not you enjoy this book may well depend on how much you need clear answers. I really enjoyed it, but I'm okay with things remaining mysterious...I guess I am more interested in the journey than the destination. That said, there were a few areas that left me feeling a little like the author had no more idea what was going on than the rest of us, and this threw me out of the story at one point. Still, for me, it was worth continuing.


message 10: by Paulo (new)

Paulo Limp (paulolimp) | 164 comments I did not enjoy the book either. John is right when he says that the book has been well crafted. But I ended up feeling that even the well polished crafting wasn't enough to make this worth reading.

Not just the lack of a proper conclusion, but also the narrative really put me off. It was like the biologist was more interested in talking about herself than the mystery of Area X. And it is all so vague! Her descriptions are so unclear - why would a scientist provide so many obscure descriptions if her work was to provide the most objective and accurate observations possible? Wouldn't she at least be bothered that she could not provide a more clear picture of what was going on?


message 11: by William (last edited Feb 02, 2015 04:46PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

William Chinda (willchinda) | 15 comments Ruth wrote: "I think whether or not you enjoy this book may well depend on how much you need clear answers."

I'll second this. Most mysteries tend to work on the premise that there is a hidden truth that will be slowly yet artfully revealed. Annihilation is more like: "Hey, this Area X place is pretty effed up. Let's poke around and see what kind of trouble these characters can get into." You're not discovering truth so much as a deeper mystery or just experiencing the weird and freaky mood of a setting. After watching Lost, I think I almost prefer the deeper mystery path instead sometimes.

Personally, I didn't much care for the style of writing and had a really difficult time connecting to the main character. It wasn't until the book was nearly finished (view spoiler)

Paulo - I get the feeling the vagueness of the descriptions had more to do with (view spoiler) I understand why the author chose to do it, but I agree, it didn't really work for me.


message 12: by Whitney (new)

Whitney (whitneychakara) | 179 comments Im not going to get to this, I tried to do our last book read as well but ran out of time not off to a good start with group reads this year. :(


message 13: by terpkristin (last edited Feb 02, 2015 05:34PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

terpkristin | 4135 comments Chakara wrote: "Im not going to get to this, I tried to do our last book read as well but ran out of time not off to a good start with group reads this year. :("

It's ok if you're late. I am only 7.5 chapters into The Sparrow, but I plan to try to jump in when I can. Same for this one...assuming I don't start it and quit it... There will definitely still be people around willing/wanting to talk about it. Even if you're "late." :)


message 14: by Rich (last edited Feb 03, 2015 12:23AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rich Boulton (rich_boulton) William wrote: "Ruth wrote: "I think whether or not you enjoy this book may well depend on how much you need clear answers."

I'll second this. "


I'll ... third it? A few of the negative reactions to this one seem to be due to its vagueness and disinterest in providing clear answers to the mysteries it sets up. But to do that would completely contradict the concept of the work - the book is like Area X itself, defying any attempts to neatly carve it up (you can even just look at the confusion around what genre it is, for one).

I'm interested in those who experienced it through Audible. I read it on Kindle and for me it was a book that I needed to let soak in at whatever pace felt necessary at the time. I don't think I would have gotten as much from it in an audio format.


message 15: by Paulo (new)

Paulo Limp (paulolimp) | 164 comments I have the Audible version, and maybe this is an issue. Here's what happened to me:

I was walking to work listening to the book, still in the first hour. Then I realized my mind was elsewhere, and I lost some of the story. I went back 10 minutes and listened to it again. And again my attention wandered off. Annoyed, I actually stopped walking and listened to the same part for the third time, standing under the Sun. And I got to the conclusion that indeed, nothing important had happened in those 10 minutes, that the protagonist was mostly rambling her inner thoughts about the expedition. From this point on, I took the book as if I was in a dream. Strange things happen, but it's ok, because it is just a dream.

It might be that I just don't like "Weird Fiction", as this genre is being called... I've read "The City and The City" from China Mieville, and "Rule 34" from Charles Stross. Both were pretty weird to me, but I enjoyed them. In this case, it all felt... Too easy to be created.

I mean, I am no writer, but I can picture myself designing a plot with a very complicated setting, strange monsters and mysteries, not having to worry about explaining anything meaningful about it. I'd then go try to build some background for the characters, and throw them into the place. Voilà! My own Weird Fiction novel!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the author was never able to surprise or amaze me, which are the things I look for when I read a book.

I have an issue with lemming books, though, and I've got the whole trilogy for 1 credit on Audible. So I'm in the middle of the second book. It has improved. A bit. But not much.


message 16: by Veronica, Supreme Sword (new) - rated it 4 stars

Veronica Belmont (veronicabelmont) | 1672 comments Mod
James wrote: "This, for me, is the worst kind of story telling. So much exposition. No logical basis for the setting. I kept hoping something would happen to make my investment worthwhile. If you are thinking of..."

You know, I really wish we wouldn't tell people to "Lem it if you have the chance." If you're not enjoying the book, it doesn't mean everyone else won't enjoy it too. You're not saving anyone. People have their own likes and interests. I enjoyed the book. That's pretty insulting to everyone's intelligence to assume they can't form their own opinions.


message 17: by Joe Informatico (last edited Feb 03, 2015 01:32PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 888 comments So on an episode of Tor.com's Rocket Talk podcast, host Justin Landon said (and I'm paraphrasing), "no one has a clear definition of what The New Weird is, but it seems to get by on the sheer muscularity of its prose."

That's what worked for me here. On the face of it, it's four very thinly-sketched characters having a series of weird encounters with not much resolved, and yet it completely captivated me from beginning to end. I can't remember the last time a book so hooked me. I haven't had a chance to read books 2 and 3 yet, but I'm also hesitant because I'm worried they'll spoil the great, creepy vibe I got from Annihilation. I'm worried any answers they give will ruin my own wild speculations.

I wonder if the backlash is due to the fact that genre fans tend to be fixated on plot and setting, and rarely care about prose and craftsmanship. I understand and sympathize with that, because most of the time I don't really notice the writing craft either. But it when it works, it works. This might be why Southern Reach is allegedly successful with readers who aren't usually SF&F readers.


Sandi (sandikal) | 1212 comments Joe, you have to read the next two. If anything, the second one is even weirder than the first.


message 19: by Leesa (last edited Feb 03, 2015 03:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Leesa (leesalogic) | 639 comments I'm listening to it, and I too felt my mind wandering some. So I rewound, and I also read a little on the computer to "recap."

I'm getting the idea that the characters also tend to forget things or their minds wander.

It's very weird. I'm liking it. I like weird/horror.


message 20: by James (new)

James Kramer | 8 comments Ah, Veronica, I am absolutely not trying to insult anyone's intelligence! If you are halfway through this book, and liking the adventure you are on, me telling you to lem it isn't going to force you to put it down...

I'm talking to the reader that's halfway through, has no idea what's going on, is wondering if pushing through the torture until the end will give the story a chance to redeem itself with a understandable payoff, and wishes there was someone like himself out there who could show him some guidance. This is the reader who might benefit from my plea...

I absolutely, despite not liking this book, am appreciative of the club bringing all sorts of sci fi fantasy literature to the table. Of course there will be people who adore this book, just as there are people out there who adore "Memoirs Found in a Bathtub..." That's what makes us such a diverse and interesting club!


message 21: by Willeyeoney (last edited Feb 04, 2015 03:51AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Willeyeoney | 20 comments I read the book pretty quickly, was a little disappointed with the story, spent a couple of days thinking about it, am now 75% through Book 2. :)

EDIT:

Ok, finished Book 2, will give myself half a day to assimilate and will start Book 3.
Thanks whoever choose Annihilation as this months book! :)


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2846 comments I have read the entire trilogy and don't wish I'd lemmed it. I wish I'd started it after all three books were out because I had to wait. And now knowing what I know I want another book with more of that. MORE. Not less.


Daniel K | 164 comments Jenny (Reading Envy) wrote: "I have read the entire trilogy and don't wish I'd lemmed it. I wish I'd started it after all three books were out because I had to wait. And now knowing what I know I want another book with more of..."

Could you please tell me (use spoiler tag if you think its appropriate) if there will be any clear explanation of at least half of the things happening here or there is no point in continue reading if i don't like the unexplained?


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2846 comments Daniel wrote: "Jenny (Reading Envy) wrote: "I have read the entire trilogy and don't wish I'd lemmed it. I wish I'd started it after all three books were out because I had to wait. And now knowing what I know I w..."

Some is explained in the second book, and some in the third. Remember, the entire premise is that they don't know. That's why they have to have the expeditions in the first place.


Shaina (shainaeg) | 165 comments I was thinking of skipping this read due to the horror classification. I get terrified really easily and I live alone and know that I'll be miserable for at least a week if I'm really scared or creeped out. I decided to try anyway, because Veronica convinced me on the podcast. I'm 1/4 of the way through and really enjoying it. So far it's not too scary for me, I hope it doesn't become actually scary or super creepy. I was super scared of the first season of Lost with the smoke monster and crazy mystery stuff in the woods and I was worry that this will be too much like that.


message 26: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tassie Dave | 3511 comments Mod
I never felt it got too scary. The first half is ok, more tension than scares. But the last half is probably as bad or worse than what scared you in Lost. Not trying to scare you, just give fair warning.


message 27: by Whitney (new)

Whitney (whitneychakara) | 179 comments Veronica wrote: "James wrote: "This, for me, is the worst kind of story telling. So much exposition. No logical basis for the setting. I kept hoping something would happen to make my investment worthwhile. If you a..."

I took it as a warning no one can control what someone else reads but I think a persons 'review' is their opinion and they are entitled to it just like we all are entitled to then go and make our own opinion and do our own review and tell people what WE thought of the book.


Daniel K | 164 comments Shaina wrote: "I was thinking of skipping this read due to the horror classification. I get terrified really easily and I live alone and know that I'll be miserable for at least a week if I'm really scared or cre..."

For me it isn't scary at all. I felt some sort of light unease when just started the book but then its total blurriness and dream-like fuzziness relieved me of almost any kind of negative emotions besides maybe some suspense. IMO it feels too unreal and fantastic to believe in. If you wasn't scared by first quarter i don't think you'll be further. At least for the first 80 % of the book as far as i've read.


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

Bell (nickhudson) | 7 comments Sandi wrote: "I won the second book through FirstReads, so I got the Kindle version of the first book. I thought it was really intriguing. It reminded me a lot of Roadside Picnic. What I find in..."

Same here, thou I read the "Roadside..." a long, long time ago. Also it reminded me of a novella by Alastair Reynolds where croup of people are trying to penetrate huge building with different kind of dangerous room. Sorry, dont remember the name of novella. I have now read about the third of this novel, and really like it. And also, for some reason, I get this kinda Cthulhu feeling out of it...


message 30: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3916 comments ^ It's Diamond Dogs from the book "Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days." FWIW it's my least favorite of Reynolds' work. I found it disturbing and grotesque. It does tie in slightly to other Reynolds works as well as the second story in the collection. Turquoise Days is worth a read for an understanding of what the Juggler Worlds actually are.


message 31: by Bell (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bell (nickhudson) | 7 comments John (Taloni) wrote: "^ It's Diamond Dogs from the book "Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days." FWIW it's my least favorite of Reynolds' work. I found it disturbing and grotesque. It does tie in slightly to other Reynolds works..."

Yup, that´s the one.

And like many other people have said in this thread: I too think that the writing is great. In lesser hands the whole mystery of Area X and the (maybe? Have not finished it yet) distorted and untrustworthy POV-telling would have easily felled apart. Just brilliant, masterclass writing.


Andrew J. | 54 comments James wrote: "This, for me, is the worst kind of story telling. So much exposition. No logical basis for the setting. I kept hoping something would happen to make my investment worthwhile. If you are thinking of..."

I wanted more meaningful dialogue. Even though this book was written from the 1st person POV, I felt like it lacked character. The biologist felt very flat.


message 33: by Jimmy (new) - rated it 1 star

Jimmy | 14 comments I finished the first chapter and I already can't stand this book. When you establish that every other character is a potential antagonist to the main character in a "team," what is the point of the team? Also, as a scientist, I don't care how much training you have about observing one another, you'd spend SIGNIFICANTLY more time observing the world around you than your other team members. All of this team observation garbage would have happened before they entered Area X. Why is it happening now? There is almost no scientific biological analysis of any kind until they get to the "topological anomaly."

This book is a poor imitation of At the Mountains of Madness by H.P Lovecraft. That book is also about a team of scientists who make a perplexing discovery. However, the whole time they are observing, they sound like actual scientists and not YA novel characters.


message 34: by Roger (new)

Roger | 3 comments Thank God it's almost over. I thought it was one of the most uninteresting books that I have ever read. I had to go back several times because my mind drifted. But I just have to finish it. A weird compulsion I guess.


Erica I'm not thrilled with books that end with questions still left unanswered which Annihilation certainly does but plotline was one I wanted to follow for the "answers." However the prose definitely plodded at points. I'm debating whether to read the rest of the trilogy to get to the "answers" or if this series should be lemmed...


message 36: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3916 comments Erica, you'll get answers of a sort if you persevere all the way to the end and read closely. I found it a slog. Other people loved it, so YMMV.


Joseph | 2257 comments Lots of answers, but many of them are to questions you didn't know were being asked.

(Having said that, for the record, I fall firmly into the "loved it" camp.)


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