Adult · Book review · Sci-fi

Review: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

17934530This was so much creepier than I expected. I was expecting something weird – after all, this genre is called “new weird” – because I have already read another book by this author, Borne, which was also very weird. But Annihilation was so much more creepy in much less space.

Annihilation scared me. It’s the only book I’ve ever had to put down because it was becoming too creepy and sad, and I had to go outside to return to reality. I know, I haven’t read a lot of horror, so maybe I’m easily scared, but what surprised me about this book was how the horror didn’t come from the creepy mutations, the monstrous animals or the deaths, even if it had plenty of those things too. Annihilation is scary because of the unknown. What is Area X? What does the Southern Reach want? The main characters have to leave behind humanity in more ways than they expect, and what they’re fighting isn’t something they can kill.

It was also creepy because I realized how much I related to the main character – the “biologist”, this book doesn’t give you any names – and she’s unreliable, asocial and not exactly a character you want to be like, but I, too, am not good at socializing and would spend hours alone staring at a tide pool. (Tide pools are the most beautiful thing to ever exists. Better than books.)
Also! I always love books about women who are scientists, especially if there’s marine biology involved and I get to know what the character thinks about what she studies (and when I get details! Here the Acanthaster planci starfish is mentioned, I love this book). There’s also a lot of creepy biopunk horror and I loved every second of it.

The weakest part of this book are the characters. The biologist and her relationship with her husband – and the way it played into her motivations – were really interesting and developed, but all the other characters were never more than placeholders. I understand why, but I would have liked to know more about them.
Annihilation is also the kind of book that does not give answers. I don’t know if that’s because it’s the first book in a series or because it’s a genre thing, but it leaves a lot of unanswered questions and has an ending that is somewhat sad without being tragic. If you like happy endings and having all the answers by the end, this book may not be for you.

My rating: ★★★★

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