I have to wonder if subconsciously I knew that I was gonna be trapped in quarantine because of a pandemic, because MAN are a ton of the books that I bought prior to this starting about isolation, the apocalypse, or societal breakdown. I bought this in part because I thought the covers looked interesting at the bookstore, which is my most hilarious judging of a book by its cover because I found the trilogy bound together as a remainder, so I didn’t even buy the covers that made me interested.
It’s somewhat fortunate that I did buy them all together though, because I don’t know that I would have read them all otherwise. I liked this the best of the Southern Reach books, but I still can’t quite say I enjoyed it. It’s definitely well done, but the detached tone just made it hard for me to be too engaged with the characters or the story, and that seems to get worse as the series progresses.
Here, we meet the latest expedition party to explore “Area X,” a group of women only identified by their roles. We have a linguist, a psychologist, a surveyor, and our protagonist, the biologist. The biologist’s husband had been on a previous expedition, but returned disoriented and distant before dying shortly thereafter. The biologist apparently feels as passionate about this fact as I was in reciting it. The whole book is like this. It makes it really hard to care when it turns out the psychologist is using hypnotic suggestion against the party and people start dying. It’s all rendered as recitation of fact, and the book is a frustrating collection of questions answered obliquely if at all.