Authority is the second book in the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. After the strange, horrifying events that took place in Area X during the twelfth expedition there, John ”Control” Rodriguez is sent to Southern Reach to get some answers about what really happened. Unfortunately, he finds that people are not so obliging when it comes to providing them, and nothing is as it seems. It is much, much worse. In what feels like a nightmare, he tries to find out the truth about Area X while navigating around his own demons.
It must have taken me twice as much time to read the first half of the book as the second half. I struggled to concentrate: the words didn’t make any sense sometimes, the characters were unsympathetic, nothing much happened. And VanderMeer just cannot write female characters or harbours some deep resentment towards them. And then something did happen, and I was sucked in again.
Despite its flaws, the story at the centre of Authority is an engaging one. It is spooky and unnerving. The sense of impeding doom in tandem with the fact that almost no one knows it’s coming is suffocating. VanderMeer’s writing can be extremely confusing at times, but beautiful and poetic at other times. The time jumps in narration work almost seamlessly and contribute to the dreamy essence of the book.
I started out wondering if I would even finish this book, but by the end I couldn’t wait to start on the third and final book of the trilogy.