Where does this story go? Nowhere, really. There are a handful of decent, interestingly written passages, but they do not really add up to much of a story, and certainly not the level of dread or suspense I was expecting based on jacket reviews from authors I generally like.
A nameless Biologist is part of Expedition 12 into Area X, which has a border apparently encroaching on the “normal” part of the world. The story relates her point of view as the small, unnamed, all-women team crosses into Area X, in order to research the area and bring information back. The rest of the team is dispatched with rather quickly, with one not even starting the mission. Eventually only two team members remain and then finally, the Biologist alone, like a warped “monkeys jumping on the bed.” There are some weird things about Area X, like nonhuman things made out of human cells, which ought to have been interesting. There are stories about other expeditions, including the 11th in which her husband participated. The Biologist’s stories of the normal world, to me, only revealed she was an odd woman. They don’t inform you about how different the normal world and Area X are and why this encroaching border should be worrisome. Area X is by no means normal, but it’s also not fearsome.
The book as a whole falls flat and fails to deliver a moment that grabs you and drives you to read to the end. You read to the end just to see if something compelling finally happens. Spoiler (not really): nope, it doesn’t.
I read this book for three reasons. First, I had greatly been enjoying the sense of on-the-edge-of-your-seat apprehension that was happening to me as I watched The Fall. Before reading, I thought “it could be interesting to experience a state of suspense” in book form. Would the written word take me into a state of suspense as thoroughly as some recent television watching had? No. No, that is not what happened. I kept reading hoping that something dramatic was going to happen, and again, no. Second, because Mr. Star read it and didn’t like it and wanted to know what I thought. I definitely did not care for it. In a more biting mood, I might wonder is there such a dearth of good writing that this actually got published? It’s a trilogy and I’m not inclined to read the other two. Although this book is short enough that it could have been a section in a larger book. Then I would have continued, but as it is, I have no problem leaving it behind. Third, I occasionally feel a palpable sense of unease (akin to the book’s theme “what is not right here & what do I have to figure out?”) and wanted to know if there was a way to capture it in words. This book didn’t deliver in that regard. I highly recommend spending your hours instead watching The Fall.