I read Annihilation about a year ago. It was a great first read to get me back into books after having my second daughter. A short book (only 200 pages or so) and a great page-turner. I loved it… although it’s a bit bizarre. OK. A lot bizarre, especially toward the end. But I enjoyed that it was unlike anything I’d read before… a cast of all female leads, an unearthly terrain, a mystery with an unforeseeable solution, and a layered writing style that kept me wanting more.
So, for this month I read Authority, the sequel to Annihilation and the second in James VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy. I had hopes of finishing Acceptance as well (the final book in the trilogy), but as I type I’m still less than 100 pages into it… thanks to Authority. It was a bit of a drag to be honest. I blew through Annihilation but Authority left something to be desired. It’s set at the Southern Reach; the headquarters of the Area X initiative where we follow a new protagonist and interim director John Rodriguez (aka “Control”). SPOILER ALERT it’s revealed that the Psychologist from Annihilation was formerly the director of Southern Reach, and all scientists from the 12th expedition have “returned” except for her. Hence Control’s new role. The biologist is involved in the second book, but as those of you who finished Annihilation know, it’s not quite the real biologist.
OK, spoilers over. Anyway, from what I’ve read so far it seems that Authority could be skipped altogether. Acceptance is more where I thought Annihilation would pick up… you get more details into the past and present of each character and into the history of the forgotten coast / Area X. Each chapter is told from a different character’s perspective (but not necessarily from the same point in time); the lighthouse keeper, the biologist and Control, and the Director/Psychologist. Granted, I’m not that far into Acceptance, but I have hope for the trilogy overall. I think if you’re interested in the series, which I still am, breeze through the second (bleh) and dive straight into the third. Authority could have been 100 pages max, but instead it dragged on for 341+ pages. Acceptance is the same length but so far a lot more has happened in the first 89 pages than it ever felt like happened in Authority. Anyway, I’ll keep you posted. I just hope the trilogy ends the way it began… a rivetingly bizarre mystery unlike anything I’ve read.