Review: ‘Annihilation’ by Jeff VanderMeer

Muddy tire tracks.Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy, #1)

There was a section in this book about muddy tire tracks in an abandoned lot. The botanist saw all kinds of life in the most mundane places. And I found myself thinking about the major flooding in my area last year. When the rain stopped we walked to the neighborhood park. For several weeks the large tire tracks from earlier construction were filled with water and full of life. Frogs I had never seen before would dive into the mud as we went by; tiger salamanders caught many people by surprise that had no idea they lived in the area. And while thinking about that brief but interesting time of my life I forgot I was listing to a book and eventually had to rewind about five minute worth and start again.

That was my problem with this book. The botanist, narrator of Annihilation, was so detached from the narrative that I couldn’t help but follow suit. Can I admire the craft, the details, the realness of the people within (including the relationships they build) and still find myself completely cold? Of course I can.

I just don’t ‘get’ this one. As in I don’t have a clue where the book was supposed to go. It spent as much time on the relationship with the botanist and her now late husband as it did on her mission into Area X, a land of unexplained hidden in a seemingly mundane wrapping. No questions were really answered and the hints of truth we are given were a major let down. The early pages, including the first trip down the tower, were masterfully done. The atmosphere was perfect for a while; then the game changed and I was never able to get it back.

Truth is I was bored. Not sure what I expected but this wasn’t it. It was great for a half but lost its momentum quickly.

3 Stars

I listened to the audio version. The narrator switched between voices smoothly; though of course that is a bit easier with only a few speaking characters. My lack of enjoyment of the book makes it hard to judge her voice work beyond that.

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