My very favorite trilogy is His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. See reviews here: The Golden Compass and here: The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. And when I first read the Southern Reach trilogy, I had found my second favorite. A friend recommended the first book to me, but I was skeptical. I had read so many dystopian novels that finding any that were good and well-written just seemed like an impossible task. But I gave it a go. And I devoured the first book in days. It was terrifying. And it was brilliant. It was just as much science fiction as it was horror, and it was a perfect blend of the two. So, with the new movie coming out, trailer, I decided to give the books a reread. Here’s a link to the review of the first book, Annihilation, that I wrote a few months ago.
After the first reading of the trilogy, the second book, Authority, was my favorite. Book one takes place in Area X and book two takes place in the Southern Reach, which oversees Area X and the expeditions sent there. The third book combines the two areas and books, sort of. This time around, I think the third book is my favorite because so many crazy things happen that you just can’t see coming. There are horrifying events that happen in every book, but there’s scene that stands out in the second one that absolutely made shivers run down my spine, though.
There are many questions presented in the first book that are definitively answered in the second and third, but not everything is tied up for us. And I was okay with that, even after the first reading. After this second time around, I feel like I uncovered even more answers, since I knew where the story was ultimately heading. I know others who read the trilogy that were disappointed, and I get that, but I felt like I got more answers than I was expecting. The author, Jeff VanderMeer has written another, unrelated book Borne that has been also well-reviewed. He’s an author that I can guarantee I will read everything he publishes.
For the 2017 book challenge, I needed a book with an unreliable narrator. This was challenging simply because you don’t know if a character is reliable or not unless you have actually read the book. I didn’t want to wade through dozens of reliable narrators wasting my time, so I turned to Goodreads to help find one. And, of course, I had this book is my back pocket all along!
I read Annihilation when it first came out a couple of years ago. Jeff VanderMeer published the Southern Reach trilogy all within several months, so the wait time in between books wasn’t too terrible. I read the first two (Annihilation and Authority) over the summer and, in the fall, Acceptance. I had pre-ordered it on my Kindle and spent the entire day reading. This is how much I love the series. The Annihilation movie comes out in 2018, so I recommend reading the series before then.
This is a book that is really hard to capture because it’s just so damn weird. And I mean that in the best way possible. Four people are sent into a place called Area X to investigate its mysteries. They are not the first group sent in, either. Our narrator, simply called the biologist, tells the story of what they find while in Area X. To avoid major spoilers, lets just say that your imagination will never predict what exactly they find. Within Area X is a lighthouse, plenty of flora and fauna, some abandoned residences, and a structure that seems to pull the explorers in. And yes, the narrator is completely unreliable, for reasons I won’t name here.
This book threw me completely out of my ability to comprehend just what in the hell was happening. And I loved every minute of it. Never have I gotten so sucked into a series like I did this one. Partly because it’s so crazy, but partly because VanderMeer expertly crafts the mysteries and leads you down a path you don’t expect. His newest book, Borne, my review here, is getting rave reviews, but nothing tops this series for me. It’s creepy and terrifying and mysterious and amazing. The second book in the series is my favorite, actually, and I put this series in my top 10 of all time books.