Satisfaction in One Year: Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy

BGB-AnnihilationIf you read trilogies, then you are used to waiting. Sometimes you only have to wait a year between books and other times it’s six or ten (not naming any authors here, I promise!). So it is with distinct pleasure and awe that I learned that Jeff Vandermeer planned to release all three of the books in The Southern Reach trilogy in 2014.
The first book, Annihilation, follows a group of four women, a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist and a surveyor, who set out into Area X. We know each character only by their role and how they react as they venture into an area that had gone mysteriously strange 30 years before. They have been trained to survey Area X and to return with samples and journals so that the government organization they work for, Southern Reach, can learn more about the potentially dangerous developments in Area X. They know little, other than that they are the 12th expedition and that many before them did not return or did not return with their memories or even their personalities intact.

Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation gets the Southern Reach trilogy off to a suitably creepy, provocative start. The anthropological distance employed in the narration creates even more mystery and immersion in the landscape and story.

The second book, Authority, is from the perspective a new director at the Southern Reach facility where the survivors from the 12th expedition into Area X have just returned.

Vandermeer creates suspense and holds your attention and curiosity with a sly, clinical eye. Momentum builds slowly as a disturbing atmosphere builds around the fecund mysteries of Area X.

Entertainment Weekly recently used a whole page to glory over the cover art The Southern Reach has received in different countries. It’s worth looking at because the cover art treatment of the books is marvelous.

The third book, Acceptance, will be coming out in September, so you have plenty of time to catch up in the meantime. Or, for once, you can enjoy a trilogy in one fell swoop without feeling like you have discovered it late. That’s the gift that Jeff Vandermeer has given us in 2014: a trilogy to gulp or savor without the wait.

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Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

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