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Annihilation
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2015 Reads > Ann: Thrown out of the book (mild spoilers)

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message 1: by Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth (last edited Feb 02, 2015 07:38AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1864 comments On page 93 there was a sentence that completely threw me out of the book. It mentions Area X "before the ill-defined event that locked it behind the border" and it was those words 'ill-defined' that struck me. I suddenly felt as if, at the time this sentence was written, this event was ill-defined to the author as much as everyone else. I could be wrong, and I have no idea if anything becomes clearer in later books, but I began to suspect we were never going to find more about what happened because the author didn't have a clue, and was being deliberately vague to hide this fact.

I was able to get back into the novel, and did enjoy it, but this vagueness does still bother me a little. Am I alone in this?


message 2: by Paulo (new)

Paulo Limp (paulolimp) | 164 comments No, not at all. I was quite upset by that as well. I felt that the narrative was so vague regarding the mystery around Area X that it was as if the protagonist knew what was going on, and didn't want to tell me, the reader.

I did not enjoy the book at all. The author writes well, and he did take care to build the characters... But the plot simply isn't enticing.


message 3: by Rob Secundus (last edited Feb 02, 2015 06:48AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rob Secundus (quintessential_defenestration) | 1035 comments That's not talking about Area 51, it's saying that Area X is kind of like Area 51, and Area X had the ill-defined event (I think!). The story is in part specifically about investigating and defining not only the place as it is but how it came to be. It's very important to the Biologist in particular that it is ill-defined, because part of her story is about her as a scientist trying to describe a world that is beyond description, but also as a manipulated person trying to regain agency.

But yeah, for part of me the vagueness in general was frustrating, because as a genre reader I've been trained to expect to be able to get a nice DND manual's worth of worldbuilding out of a book. (The dragons have x y and z powers, these are the important ways in which they differ, these are the things that resulted in their creation, etc). But I think here the vagueness is key to what the book is doing, and getting more specific would have really made it way more generic, and possibly mediocre.


Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1864 comments Rob Secundus wrote: "That's not talking about Area 51, it's saying that Area X is kind of like Area 51, and Area X had the ill-defined event (I think!). "

Ooops. I wrote that in error because my head kept changing it from X to 51. I meant X, and have edited it above. Sorry for the confusion. :)


Dara (cmdrdara) | 2693 comments I didn't mind that. I don't really care about what happened there. It doesn't seem to be important. What's important is what the biologist is experiencing now and her thought process and her character. It doesn't seem to be important to the biologist or to the plot so I'm not worried about it.


Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments Foolish humans always expect their puny brains can comprehend the mysteries of the universe.


message 7: by Ben (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ben Rowe (benwickens) I think if you approach any writer of weird fiction with expectations of a SF/ fantasy reader you can potentially get disappointed. Not having all the answers is an essential part of weird fiction (otherwise its not weird) and doesnt work in the same way.

It is the same if you tried writers like Kiernan, Barron, Tidbeck etc. true they write fantasy/sf but with a weird spin.

In terms of "ill-defined" event - I dont think its a mistake in the sense of author "insert details here" but rather reflective of the narrator not having the full picture about fairly secret events that The Southern Reach havent been sharing information about. That said I think this is an unusual word slippage in the generally very well written book as I think there are much better phrases that he could have picked that would have worked better.


Robyn | 115 comments Dara wrote: "I didn't mind that. I don't really care about what happened there. It doesn't seem to be important. What's important is what the biologist is experiencing now and her thought process and her charac..."

Meanwhile, while that moment didn't bother me, I CARE SO MUCH. WTF happened, Jeff (apologies for being overly familiar, I can't remember how to capitalise and punctuate your last name right now)? I NEED TO KNOW.


message 9: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3958 comments ^ Might this just be suspense building for the rest of the trilogy? I felt that the book as presented (view spoiler)


Robyn | 115 comments Oh, I think you're probably right there. I didn't really enjoy the book at the time because I felt like it was just a big tease; but as time passed I've decided I enjoyed its subtler delights enough to check out the second.


David(LA,CA) (davidscharf) | 327 comments John (Taloni) wrote: "^ Might this just be suspense building for the rest of the trilogy? I felt that the book as presented [spoilers removed]"

I had a similar feeling. It reminded me a little bit of Wool Omnibus. I wasn't crazy about the first part of that series, but the plot that develops in the later parts isn't that bad.

The difference for me being we were reading the Omnibus, so I picked up the whole story all at once. This time, I feel no desire to spend money or audible credits getting what happens next.


message 12: by Leesa (last edited Feb 03, 2015 12:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Leesa (leesalogic) | 643 comments I'm feeling a bit of the Wool effect too. And I mean that in all aspects: from the downward tower to not knowing anything about Area X or the motivations of those who send teams in to Area X to investigate.

I'm enjoying it so far (I'm not very far in--about 25 minutes into the audiobook).


AndrewP (andrewca) | 2481 comments I only got about 15 pages into this one before doing a facepalm. Sending a surveyor but not letting her have a compass? A few chapters on and the surveyor says that the tower is almost perfectly aligned with true north... go figure.


message 14: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (last edited Feb 03, 2015 09:43PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tassie Dave | 3542 comments Mod
You don't need a compass to find north.

I can find north during the day (To within a very small margin of error) and south at night (Precisely) Either will give you all other directions.
These assume I can see the Sun's position or Southern Cross constellation.

If this is supposed to be the US, then she could do the same except in reverse (South in day - Sun) (North at night - Polaris)


AndrewP (andrewca) | 2481 comments Tassie Dave wrote: "You don't need a compass to find north.
"


Yup that's true, and once you know which way north is it's easy to make a compass out of a sliver of ferrous metal.
But apparently a microscope doesn't count as technology and is okay:)


Rob Secundus (quintessential_defenestration) | 1035 comments As far as I can tell, (view spoiler)
(marked for spoilers just in case "vague guesses at the rules of a universe based on discussions throughout the trilogy" might be too spoilery for some. No actual plot points discussed above)


Melissa Lashley (effjay) | 6 comments Weird. I didn't get a Wool vibe at all but now feel like I should have. But it does give me a better grasp on why I didn't like this book. It was just way too vague for me.

Wool still felt like a complete story even though it just followed one person. While the first person journal perspective in Annihilation was an interesting way to tell a story, I kept waiting for someone else to jump in with more details.

It wasn't a bad story, it was just frustratingly incomplete. Maybe I'd be happier with it if I read the rest of the trilogy.


Ruth (tilltab) Ashworth | 1864 comments Might be a plan, Melissa. From the sounds of it, the second book is worth a read. I'd like to continue the series myself when I have time.

I didn't get a Wool vibe, either, but now that it's been mentioned, I can see how it compares easily. With Wool though, I always felt like the author had all the answers, even if he wasn't telling. With this, it was not the mystery that bothered me so much as...I perhaps lost my trust in the author a little? Maybe it is as Ben said, and it was merely poor word choice.


David(LA,CA) (davidscharf) | 327 comments I'm wondering how to try and better explain my opinion. We read the Wool Omnibus in the group. So we eventually end up following one person, and we got to see the author providing answers down the line.

But think about that first section again. The story of the sheriff and his wife. It may be the pebble that starts the avalanche that is the rest of the story, but on its own it raises a large number of questions that it doesn't do much to answer.


message 20: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 3958 comments I found the first book fairly interesting. Concerning the second,

(view spoiler)


message 21: by Paulo (new)

Paulo Limp (paulolimp) | 164 comments David(LA,CA) wrote: "...But think about that first section again. The story of the sheriff and his wife. It may be the pebble that starts the avalanche that is the rest of the story, but on its own it raises a large number of questions that it doesn't do much to answer."

I disagree. The first part of Wool was clearly a short story itself, with a revelation at the end when (view spoiler) It did raise more questions though, keeping you hooked.

I did not get any sense of revelation at the end of Ann. And I'm frustrated because I see some people really loved the book, and I didn't. What did I miss? Could someone explain?


Rob Secundus (quintessential_defenestration) | 1035 comments Paulo wrote: " What did I miss? Could someone explain? "
I think you have to approach Ann. primarily about a character, and how a mystery effects her, not about a mystery. The Biologist has a complete, satisfying arc. Or, you have to approach it not as a mystery in the modern sense, a puzzle to be solved, but in the medieval sense, as something unknowable. This book gives you one complete perspective on that unknowable thing, and like Tom said, the trilogy acts as a kind of triptych of perspectives.


Daniel Eavenson (dannyeaves) | 127 comments Rob Secundus wrote: The Biologist has a complete, satisfying arc." Your going to have to lay that out for me because i thought the opposite. This book is flat lines all the way across. The Biologist is stripped of personality through the process of the novel, and left only with observation. The major reveal, I thought, was that we see the process of the degradation of her character starts nearly from birth and only concludes in the literal disintegration of her self by the forces of Area X.


Rob Secundus (quintessential_defenestration) | 1035 comments I'm working on a little post about that but it'll go up in the read on the character, maybe tomorrow. But the short of it is she (view spoiler)


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