As I got further and further into Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation, I could not shake a feeling of increasing dread/terror. And that is the magic of this sci-fi thriller: you can't pull yourself away. The story centers on a mysterious "Area X," a quarantined part of the U.S. coastline, where teams of expeditions have been sent to explore. The narrative begins with the 12th expedition, an all women team made up of a biologist, psychologist, anthropologist and surveyor. None are ever identified by name; the entire book is narrated from the biologist's perspective, in the form of the journal she keeps from the start of their journey. The biologist's husband had been part of the 11th expedition, and died soon after he returned from Area X. You know very little going into the story - because the biologist knows very little. About where she's being sent, about Area X, about why her husband died.
It was weird! Creepy! Violent! A lot of the plot hinged on this mysterious fungus! It read like a horror novel at times!! Definitely NOT what I usually read, but I think that's what made it so unique: I couldn't tear myself away. I would recommend it for fans of science fiction, fans of "weird science," of alien novels. You read it all in one sitting. As Jason Sheehan writes in NPR Books, "I hated it from the start. Didn't come up for air again for three hours, and finished the entire thing in less than a day, knowing it finally for the strange, clever, off-putting, maddening, claustrophobic, occasionally beautiful, occasionally disturbing and altogether fantastic book that it is. Annihilation is a book meant for gulping — for going in head-first and not coming up for air until you hit the back cover."
The book was made into a movie, to be released in 2018, starring Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh.... Trailer is embedded here (light spoilers for the books).
Worried I'm going to have nightmares, but WHAT a read. Rating: ★★★★