It’s possible I’m the only one who didn’t know this is the first book of a trilogy. I don’t know if I’ll read the other two.
There’s a mysterious place, Area X, where some kind of cataclysmic change happened, and it’s now abandoned and “walled” off, by an invisible barrier. Physically this place is unbelievably lush. VanderMeer somehow made me feel threatened by the growth of things. Psychologically the place has something else going on. A number of expeditions have tried to investigate or map the area or something. The few people who’ve returned had changed, drastically. In this book, another new group has gone in, known to each other (and us) only by their job titles; the biologist is our protagonist. Her husband was a member of a previous expedition, is now deceased, and the secrecy about his mission, changed personality, and ultimately, death drive her to follow in his footsteps. Very early on, in an exploration of a very freaky place described as a “tower” by the biologist but as a “tunnel” by others (in a good example of the disorientation the characters feel…the reader, too), she feels she may have been affected, or infected, or at any rate compromised by something emanating from it, in the form of something like spores from some plant- or algae-like material on the inside walls. This renders her impervious to what turns out to be hypnosis the team leader has been using on the biologist and other expedition members, which may explain the fact that none of them can quite remember entering Area X, or how they got inside.
They have no contact with the outside, their equipment is ancient and outdated, their leader apparently can’t be trusted, and they have no idea what Area X is, or really why they’re there.
It’s really very interesting. The biologist ends up alone, on a solo and harrowing trip to the other structure they see, a lighthouse. It’s scary! It’s unsettling! So it’s surprising to me that I don’t really know or care what happened. On the one hand it was hard to put down, but on the other it was hard for me to care, even though the biologist did become more interesting as she learned more — or more accurately, as she acquired more data… The slow revelation of the biologist’s weird ass personality and of her marriage probably made finish the book.
Is it worthwhile to read the other two?