A USA Today Pick of Favorite Summer Beach Reads
Winner of the 2014 Nebula Award for Best Novel
Winner of the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel
A Salon Best Audiobook of the Year for 2014
An Amazon Best Book of 2014
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, February 2014
A Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, February 2014
One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2014
If J. J. Abrams, Margaret Atwood, and Alan Weisman collaborated on a novel … it might be this awesome.
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.
This is the twelfth expedition.
Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist, a surveyor, a psychologist—the de facto leader—and a biologist, who is our narrator. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life-forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.
© 2014 by Jeff VanderMeer
“A tense and chilling psychological thriller about an unraveling expedition and the strangeness within us. A little Kubrick, a lot Lovecraft, the novel builds with an unbearable tension and a claustrophobic dread that linger long afterward. I loved it.”
Lauren Beukes, Sunday Times (London) bestselling author
“VanderMeer has crafted an evocative adventure…it is a captivating meander, filled with lush prose describing naturalistic imagery that veers between the beautiful and the terrifying…Annihilation will scare you and move you, and you might never know why.”
“This is the first book in VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy…All three books are available in audio format, but I prefer this one as a stand-alone, with all its unsolved mysteries and unanswered questions…McCormick’s, pure, serene, rather methodical performance at first seems too stiff and then, gradually, reveals myriad gradations of loneliness, determination and awe.”
Salon.com (audio review)
“Brilliant…Evocative descriptions…masterful psychological insight, and intellectual observations both profound and disturbing—calling Lovecraft to mind and Borges—Vandermeer unfolds a tale as satisfying as it is richly imagined.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A gripping fantasy thriller, Annihilation is thoroughly suspenseful. In a manner similar to H. G. Wells’ in The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), VanderMeer weaves together an otherworldly tale of the supernatural and the half-human. Delightfully, this page-turner is the first in a trilogy.”
Booklist (starred review)
“After their high-risk expedition disintegrates, it’s every scientist for herself in this wonderfully creepy blend of horror and science fiction…VanderMeer is an expert fearmonger, but his strongest suit, what makes his novel a standout, is his depiction of the biologist…Speculative fiction at its most transfixing.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“World Fantasy Award winner VanderMeer turns in a dystopian story with literary overtones that's winning comparison to works by Margaret Atwood.”
2 out of 4 (50%) recommend this productWrite a review
Sci-Fi SuspenseFebruary 11, 2015I had no idea what I was getting into with this series! Very suspenseful and very odd. I’m not typically a sci-fi fan, so maybe it won’t seem as strange to other listeners. You’re basically hearing a field journal of an expedition member on an ill-fated assignment. Its slow pace and matter-of-fact re-tellings of totally bizarre events make for a very creepy listening experience. It hooks you because you just can’t quite figure out what’s happening and it gives just enough back story to intrigue you about the bigger picture. Its definitely set up for following books in the series – lots of unanswered questions. Unique and arresting. This is a series I’ll have to finish!
Boy...I hope YOU liked it...September 16, 2014Why do I put myself through these things? When hearing about this book I thought...wow...totally not my thing. BUT being willing to give anything a shot once I put the headphones on and proceeded to paint the house. The house looks great! I suppose if you tend to be a sci-fi fan then it is more up your alley. I don't HATE sci-fi, but I was so unengaged by the story that I truly , now, do not care one single iota about this series or anything this author has written. I think Carolyn the narrator did the best she could with the material, but whatever...I'm not even saying this is a bad book...it's just not for me.
Whew!March 5, 2014Sorry but this story just fell flat. I don't blame the narration, it was fine. The story itself just didn't kick off properly, not enough background to explain where they were going, why etc.... just flat.
An intense, transformative journey into a surreal landscapeFebruary 4, 2014When I started reading about this book, I spent far too many hours trying to come up with my dream narrator for it. Somehow I never considered McCormick, the voice of The Hunger Games, but from the first line she is fantastic. Her laconic, detached mainline narration perfectly suited to the biologist's clinical, scientific mind, and it is the biologist's narrative voice, through the structure of the novel as her definitive account left in a journal, which, detail by detail, flashback by flashback, brings depth both to the mysteries of "Area X" and to her character. McCormick does not employ too much in the way of vocal gymnastics to differentiate the few characters; just enough to characterize them effectively and succinctly as, one presumes, the biologist herself might do. The principal exception to this is her work on the voice of the psychologist, the designated leader of the expedition, which is given a decidedly (almost British-schooled?) formal turn, a flavor which makes McCormick's outstandingly dynamic work with her later in the novel stand out all the more strikingly. On the story: from the first pages, the narrative -- of an all-female 12th expedition to a mysterious "Area X" after 11 previous and mostly catastrophic expeditions -- is driven by a compulsion, a both scientific and inescapably personal curiosity to answer the question of: what lies at the tower's base? This tower, which is not even supposed to be here, which does not appear on any map or in any record of "Area X"? This curiosity grows further into fear-yet-we-must-see territory as the first foray into the tower reveals strange words written, glowing, breathing, alive? on the walls of the tower, heading down. We find the mysteries of Area X and "The Southern Reach" growing deeper and broader both down into and in the surrounding, increasingly surreal landscape beyond the tower, setting up and leading naturally into further explorations in the successive books, but the biologist's journal stands alone as a completed arc, a completed story of inquiry, discovery, and transformation. It is a fantastic book and audiobook, highly recommended.
Carolyn McCormick has appeared in the films A Simple Twist of Fate and Enemy Mine. She has appeared on television as Dr. Olivit in Law & Order for more than a decade and as a guest on The Practice and Star Trek: The Next Generation. Her Broadway credits include roles in The Dinner Party and Private Lives.