by Jeff VanderMeer.
This is a great example of one of those times when picking up a book because of its cool cover really pays off. Annihilation is the first short book in a series about the mysterious Area X. It’s never stated directly, but the sense I get is that this takes place on Earth in the future. Area X is where some sort of Event happened, and humanity has let nature take that area back, keeping it walled off from civilization as best it can. Several expeditions have been sent in to map and study the area. The first one went fine, but expeditions since then have ended in disasters of all sorts – suicide, murder, cancer, disappearance. This book is the story of the 12th expedition and what they find there. It is not what they expect.
This was such an interesting read. For starters, none of the characters have names. The 12th expedition is made up of 4 members, all women, and they are referred to solely by their job title. Even the narrator refers to herself as the biologist and never gives her name. You’d think that would make it hard to follow the story or connect with the characters but somehow it doesn’t. And the writing itself is just… atmospheric. The air of mystery and menace and general off-ness in Area X comes through quite clearly. The suspense is well done. The world VanderMeer has created is just so strange, it’s near impossible to predict what will happen next. I wasn’t bored once. The pace is pretty fast throughout and it is a quick read, being somewhat short (195 pages). And while the narrator’s story is wrapped up satisfactorily at the end of the book, some of the answers about Area X are still unknown, waiting to be explored in the next book. Which I will definitely be picking up.
If you’re into otherworldly sci-fi with a thriller twist, give this a try.
I give it 4/5 stars.
Revelation Space (Revelation Space #1) by Alastair Reynolds. This was recommended to me by a friend back in August, and I finally got around to reading it. It tells the story, mainly, of one Dan Sylveste, an interstellar scientist bent on figuring out what happened to the long-dead Amarantin alien race. Something destroyed them almost a million years ago, and Sylveste has the more-than-nagging suspicion humanity is in danger of the same. He’s up against not just the clock, but also a scientific community that has lost faith in him, a less-than-human starship crew that has its own agenda, an […]
The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go. This is a book I added to my TBR pile because of Casee Marie’s fabulous Notable New Releases series (probably the biggest contributor to my ever-expanding TBR pile, by the by). It’s the story of Tristan, a modern-day 20-seomthing who learns he may be heir to a huge inheritance – if he can prove that he is in fact the descendent of the trustee. The problem being that the original trustee went missing back in the 1920’s and was never heard from again. So begins his quest through the archives and […]
The Taken by Vicki Pettersson This is the story of Griffin Shaw, ex-murdered-PI turned angel-grade escort into the afterlife, who makes a slight misstep and finds himself stuck back in the real world, in his former human flesh. It’s also the story of Kit Craig, a stubborn rockabilly reporter in Vegas whose best friend just got murdered following a lead (the soul Griffin was escorting). In order to get back to the heavenly plane, Grif is supposed to escort Kit’s soul when she’s killed following the same lead her friend was after. Except Grif is quite taken with Kit and […]
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan This is a weird and delightful read. As you might deduce from the name, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is not your typical bookstore. Clay, recently unemployed and now the new night clerk, notices something odd: most of the customers he encounters don’t actually buy anything, but instead borrow obscure books from what seems to be an exclusive lending library. And after a few weeks, he realizes there’s a pattern. Charting the pattern and confronting Penumbra leads Clay into a mysterious world of book-loving secret societies, code breakers, ancient typographers, and just possibly the […]
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Having marathoned through 3 seasons of Downton Abbey awhile back, I was ready for more period drama with an upstairs/downstairs angle. And The House at Riverton did have that. But the manner of the storytelling meant you didn’t really get to know either set well. The story is told through the eyes of Grace, once a housemaid at the grand house and now declining in a nursing home in her old age. But the main drama of the story centers around the […]
The Bone Key The Necromantic Mysteries of Kyle Murchison Booth by Sarah Monette I was a big fan of Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series, so when I saw she had a standalone book, I grabbed it from the library without really reading much about it. So I was a bit surprised when I went to start reading, as I had been expecting a novel; this is in fact a book of short stories. My own faulty assumption, and no big deal, because this book is a fun read. The stories all have the same central character (Kyle Murchison Booth) and […]