Oh dear. What did I just read?
Acceptance is the third and final part of the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. So, if you haven’t read the first and second part, and you’re planning on reading them despite my ”proceed with caution” reviews, stop reading now.
Acceptance deals with the events that take place right after Control and Ghost Bird jump into the tidal pool, but also with the past (the light keeper’s life as well as the months preceding the director’s second and final reentry into Area X). What is Area X and how did it come to be? Where is the biologist? What happened to the ”real” world outside?
For being the third part of a horror/mystery trilogy, this book gives surprisingly few answers. The light keeper’s story was bittersweet and shed some light onto how it all began. The director’s background story clarified a couple of small things concerning the previous books. Ghost Bird och Control’s story offered pretty much nothing. The few answers we do get are buried in uncertainty about the honesty of the people providing them. Who do we trust? The character that all other characters despise and mistrust? The character that has been taken over by the mysterious brightness and doesn’t even know herself what is true and what isn’t? Third person accounts that reach our characters – and, through them, us – through the grapevine?
Shifting the perspective between different characters was not as jarring as it could be, although – looking at the trilogy as a whole – it made it even harder to sympathise with any of the already very unsympathetic characters. The light keeper was the only one I cared about, and his was a minor role compared to the others. The backstories contributed to humanising our protagonists but not nearly enough for me to invest any sort of feelings in them. Again, with the notable exception of the light keeper. I could read a whole book about just him.
Acceptance, and the whole Southern Reach trilogy, is a peculiar work of fiction. In parts original, unsettling and well-crafted, in others confusing and unnecessarily convoluted. I don’t mind not getting all the answers (I’m one of the few, mythical creatures who loved Lost right to the bitter end) but VanderMeer is so stingy with them while being a spendthrift when it comes to descriptions of trivial things. Whatever the point of this book was, it flew right over my head.