Tag: southern reach trilogy

2014 Book #51: Authority

authorityAuthority is the second book in the Southern Reach Trilogy, to which I am hopelessly addicted. This one begins to fill in the mysteries surrounding Area X and the biologist’s experiences there that we read about in Annihilation. Which means that if you haven’t read Annihilation, you probably shouldn’t be reading this review.

So. Authority picks up where Annihilation left off. The biologist, the anthropologist, and the surveyor all somehow survived Area X, even though they appeared to be dead (and thought they were?) at the end of the first novel. The anthropologist and the surveyor have returned blank like their predecessors from the eleventh expedition, and the biologist seems to be in a similar state, but that’s not necessarily the case. We hear this story from Control, the new director of the Southern Reach, which oversees expeditions into Area X. Control’s real name is John, but, like the characters in the first novel, he dispenses with his name. We find out early that the psychologist in the twelfth expedition had been the director, but something happened, and no one knows where she is or even if she’s alive. Control begins the long process of unraveling the various mysteries surrounding Area X and the government’s involvement with it.

I didn’t like Authority as much as I liked Annihilation, but I’m not sure why that is. In the first novel, the lush, bizarre landscape added to the mystery and the general creepiness. For the most part, Authority is set in a governmental research building with political intrigue and such. It’s just not as appealing to the senses. Also, I listened to an audiobook version of this one, read by Bronson Pinchot. Pauses at strange places in the reading disconcerted me several times, though that could have had something to do with my listening at 1.5x speed.

That said, I have the final audiobook, Acceptance, queued up in my phone, ready to play once the puppy has recovered from her spay – which means I’ll start listening to it in a week. I’d probably enjoy the book more, except that I’ve told myself that as soon as I finish The Bone Clocks, I have to begin my Forced DeLillo Binge in preparation for my thesis defense so I have some idea of what I’m talking about. I’m not looking forward to that at all.

Speaking of Zelda, she has become quite the traveler:

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She has a car harness that attaches her to the seatbelt. On Saturday, we took her on a Field Trip to get her nails trimmed and to run various puppy-errands. Her first grooming experience was not a success.

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The groomer got one back paw’s nails trimmed, then gave up because she would be still, so when I dropped her off at the vet on Monday to be spayed, I asked them to trim them when she’s out. I assume that went more smoothly.

Without a puppy in the house, Palmer and I have had more time to adventure in Minecraft. We finally made it to the jungle!

We *finally* made it to the jungle!

It’s super-far away from the spawn point, so it took us a couple play sessions to get there. Palmer built an awesome treehouse, and I’m going exploring today after the puppy gets home and settled. Then, maybe we can find a cat!

2014 Book #47: Annihilation

annihilationAnnihilation reads like an episode of The Twilight Zone, complete with the explanatory monologue at the end. I could hear Rod Serling’s voice in my head. I think that’s why I liked Annihilation so much.

It’s about the twelfth expedition to Area X, a mysterious plot of land that has been under investigation for thirty years because of mysterious occurrences. This expedition includes four women: an anthropologist, a psychologist, a surveyor, and a biologist. They are never named, and the biologist narrates in journal-form. The situation seems weird from the beginning. They discover a tunnel into the ground, which the biologist insists on calling a tower, and descend to find a scrawl of mysterious and terrifying words. The biologist gets close enough to discover that they’re some sort of fungus, and inhales, infecting herself with…something. The biologist discovers that the psychologist, who leads the group, has been giving posthypnotic commands to them all along, but this fungus has made the biologist impervious. She goes on to discover some of the mysteries of Area X and what it does to her and her fellow expeditioners.

In a way, Annihilation reminded me of Bird Box, which might be another reason I liked it. The reader sees the world through the biologist’s tunnel-vision, affected somehow by that fungus, but she doesn’t know how, and she keeps it a secret from the other women. We’re kept in the dark, waiting for her to write something down that makes sense of things, like discovering this area as she does.

Annihilation is the first book in the Southern Reach Trilogy, by Jeff VanderMeer. All three books were published this year, only a couple of months apart and only in paperback. That seems like a strange move, though they were first self-published, I think, so maybe it makes sense? Anyway, I’ll be reading the second and third, Authority and Acceptance in short order because I’m entirely hooked.

Shakespeare was not nearly as enthusiastic:

In other news, I finally finished uploading photos from my one-day whirlwind tour of Washington, DC. Here’s the full set.

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