Books? Books with WORDS AND NO PICTURES? Yeah…guess it’s been a while since I’ve read a normal book that wasn’t a textbook. Anyway, I decided to start my return to books with a story that I was very interested to learn more about after seeing the recent movie Annihilation.
These are very short books. Combined they’re around 1000 pages. Might as well have just put them all in one book! Oh well. So Annihilation is obviously the one the movie was based on. The core plot is very similar, focusing on a team of scientists who’re sent in to explore a strange patch of land (Area X) whose very reality seems to be undergoing alteration by some mysterious force, but a lot of the smaller details are very different. The book focuses almost entirely on the biologist (Natalie Portman‘s character), the rest have much smaller roles than in the movie. There’s also a lot less exploration involved and the mutant creatures are a much smaller presence. There are several other big differences too, but I won’t get into those so as not to spoil it for anyone. The biggest difference is probably the ending. The movie changed things up so that things remained ambiguous, but it still felt like sort of a conclusion, whereas here things are left much more open in preparation for the sequels.
I guess I can see why they wouldn’t want to do a movie of Authority, as the book takes place almost entirely in the same few office rooms in a government facility. Not exactly cinematic, but I actually ended up enjoying it even more than the first one. Vandermeer is very good at making the mystery of Area X very compelling and strings you along as such a consistent pace that it manages to feel satisfying despite the fact that there always seem to be more questions than answers.
Acceptance concludes the story with certain characters returning to Area X in order to finally solve the mystery of the strange “invasion” and stop it from getting any worse. Back in Area X, things start getting very weird again like in Annihilation, but we’re also treated to a series of flashbacks that reveal some of the origins of Area X. It’s hard to get into any more details on this one without giving things away, but let’s just say it’s not the kind of ending that spells out every little detail for you with full clarity. It’s a bit abrupt and while some answers are finally given regarding what Area X actually is, things are still a bit ambiguous.
It may not be the most satisfying conclusion for everyone, but I’d still say it was worth the time spent on it all. It was sure a unique adventure, full of mysterious and outlandish sci-fi and a little bit of horror. Vandermeer certainly seems to have a talent for bizarre sci-fi plots and maintaining such constant momentum that even the 200 pages or so of people talking in an office building in the middle was highly entertaining. I’d definitely like to check out some more of his work someday and I’d definitely recommend these to anyone else that watched Annihilation and wanted to know more about this crazy story.