Okay, so reviewing this book is going to be kind of tough. It picks up directly after the events of Authority, and it is full of spoilers, so I don’t want to do any of that. What I might do instead is make a list of why I liked this book, in as vague terminology as possible:
- The writing. I’ve mentioned Jeff VanderMeer’s craft before, but it bears repeating. The man can put an exciting and terrifying story together. He is patient in setting up a scene, mood, and characters in such a way that you feel terror or anxiety long before any event actually comes to fruition.
- The world-building. Area X is a strange and ever-changing atmosphere. I struggled to grasp every component of it, and that’s because something was constantly in flux. There are, of course, basic “rules” to this world, which VanderMeer establishes, but that’s what makes the change all the more ominous.
- The backstory. I won’t say too much about this, but there’s a crucial detail that is alluded to in Annihilation, becomes a major mystery in Authority, and then is told in full detail in Acceptance, to show the union of the three stories. It’s also compelling for the way it weaves a major character into the story arc.
- The science/dystopian elements. VanderMeer’s imagination is on full display here, and it’s hard not to imagine some part of the world that seems to be out-of-control, particularly when we consider how places like Chernobyl have experienced major radioactive fallout. What happens when nature fights back? How do we study it? And where do we as a human race fit in? These are all questions that the characters wrestle with throughout the book.
Whew. I think I avoided major spoilers. I definitely enjoyed this trilogy. It’s suspenseful without being TOO scary. I wonder if Alex Garland has plans to adapt all three books into movies. Something to find out!
Cross-posted to my blog.