This book felt a lot like Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane. Very quietly brooding, the horrors sneak up on your when you’re not looking. There is little dialog and the characters have no names, but that takes nothing away from the simplistic beauty of this story.
A female biologist and a group of four other women are sent on an expedition to the strange and uncanny Area X, where their mission is to record data on the un-peopled area and figure out how it got there, what it’s doing, and why it’s there. As readers we don’t know how Area X came to be, and neither do the characters, at least not fully.
As the biologist unfolds her observations, she weaves back and forth between what she is seeing, and what’s happened in her past, flowing the two stories together for an awesome twist at the very end.
I can’t write too much about plot here, because to say anything will take away the fun and excitement of Vandermeer’s ever escalating reveal. His narrative style is beautifully simple and like Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, the biologist’s stark observations and detached attitude render this work naked and raw for us to feel the vulnerability and horror of what keeps happening in Area X.
There are two more books in this series, but I’m loathe to read them because I found the ending of this book so perfectly stand-alone. I highly recommend this book if you’re interested in seeing the new upcoming movie, though. It’s totally worth the read.
4 stars for brilliant prose and raw emotive abilities.