Book - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer. This is the twelfth expedition. Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers--they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding--but it's the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.
Edition: 1st d.
ISBN: 9780374104092
Characteristics: 195 p. ; 19 cm.
Subjects: Thrillers (Fiction)
Paranormal fiction.
Suspense fiction.
Adventure fiction.
Fantasy fiction.
Science fiction.
Scientists -- Fiction.
Discoveries in geography -- Fiction.


From Library Staff

marycatlyons Mar 30, 2018

A very different read. It's not written in the traditional style and may leave some readers a bit lost and hurt at times as we can't trust our narrator. But I would say it's worth at least one read. It gives you quite a few things to think about that's for sure.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jul 16, 2018

I read this book much faster than I usually do. I found the pace and level of character development perfect. I find many books are read are too long with details that are not necessary. I loved that the author kept this book the perfect length for this story. I am excited to read the next book in the series.

SCL_Jenny Jul 09, 2018

This is a great book that really knows how to do unsettling well. I didn't like the writing style at first, I found it dense and overly-descriptive, but I got used to it the further I went along. And then it was so creepy and engaging that the style didn't matter at all to me. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy!

Jul 06, 2018

Great book. Looking forward to reading the rest of the Southern Reach trilogy.

Jun 18, 2018

I'm with lecopaw and Alfred367. I bought the trilogy and am donating it to the library. Very dense, mega-descriptive sentences and passages. Difficult to follow. Strangely enough, I did finish all 3 but, even now knowing the ending (?), it left me unsatisfied. I will not check out another book by this author.

May 30, 2018

unsettling, creative sci-fi mystery

OLATHEAllisonB May 25, 2018

A slow burning story with Lovecraftian elements, "Annihilation" is vague and unsettling. Vandermeer does a nice job describing just enough of the setting and beings in Area X so that it is up to the reader to imagine what they might look like, which can be far more frightening than being explicitly told how they look. But the most chilling parts of this book are the interactions among the 4 human women who make up the exploratory team in Area X. No names are used and everyone, including the main character, are referred to by their job titles in the outside world (although one of them may have another secret role that is never fully explained). Sinister mysteries lie beneath the events of the plot, pointing to the promise of learning more in the rest of the series. This is not a book for those who prefer clearly outlined stories with predictable checkpoints and a neatly-tied-up ending, but it is a short and interesting read.

May 13, 2018

A haunting narrative that is overly descriptive with no characterization except for the protagonist. The author conveys a chilling environment but not much logic(Even in the "real world") and we get no explanation for Area X ( A stupid name). As this book is quite short and published in the same year as the two other installments it is possible that when the trilogy is completed there is some sort of payoff. Hard to say at this point if it is worth reading.

May 11, 2018

This short book is a hard-to-put-down, compelling read, well-paced in its gradual revelation of new information. Through the precise, detached first person account of the mission’s biologist, we see her interpretation of the phenomena in the familiar, but alien landscape in an abandoned area somewhere in the southern US (or maybe not!). Aspects of her behaviour (she has characteristics of Asperger’s) and of her past make us believe that she has unique abilities to understand and withstand the peculiar manifestations of Area X. The only troubling aspect of the story line is why the series of teams sent into the area are misled in their briefing and preparation. Many mysteries remain at the end, setting up the second instalment of the trilogy.

May 07, 2018

This book started off slow, but by the end of the book, I was sad that it was over. It was a surprisingly good read.

For those who have watched the movie, either the director or the screen writer said that they had only read a couple chapters. So yes, it is different from the movie.

May 05, 2018

This was the longest short book I have read. If you enjoy endlessly contemplating your navel, this one's for you. I may or may not read the other two books of the series, or perhaps I already have, or thought perhaps that I should, but then again maybe it was only a whisper of a longing unobtainable or seen in a dream that dissolved within upon itself in another life made of this place in the depths of the tower.

View All Comments


Add Age Suitability

May 07, 2018

Pipthekat thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Apr 07, 2018

Sam_Stewart thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

strangegazelle Jul 07, 2017

strangegazelle thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Jun 19, 2017

VladTheGreen thinks this title is suitable for 14 years and over

Feb 24, 2017

blairl thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Jun 23, 2015

red_cobra_341 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at GCPL

To Top