Tag Archives: Area X

Book Love: Annihilation

Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I’ve previously stated, I’m a sucker for an unreliable narrator. Annihilation is short, vague, and contradictory, yet captivating. With less than 200 pages, it feels more like a prologue than a prequel.

Annihilation takes an intricate look into reality and our perceptions of the realities we choose to live in. Told from an unnamed female protagonist’s perspective who is a biologist on expedition, we are able to view a mind clouded in uncertainties. This limited range of view is vital to the telling of the story, and although I knew I couldn’t trust this woman entirely, I wanted to all the same. She gave a perfectly vague account of an unpopulated area shrouded in mystery, and I found myself wanting to travel there to witness it firsthand, even if I might not come back from it.

Area X is beyond civilization’s border, and the only people allowed to cross the mysterious boundary into its wilderness have been specially chosen purely for research purposes. The people venturing into this unknown wasteland are well-trained in their skill sets and are used as variables to explore the constant that is the “uncharted” territory. Accompanying our biologist there is also a linguist, psychologist, surveyor, and an anthropologist. All women; all serving a distinct purpose on their mission. Each of these women have done away with their birth names before setting out, thus attempting to rid themselves of their identities before meeting their awaited fate in Area X.

The biologist, as she had been trained to, observed her surroundings, looking for trends and trusting her senses to tell her the truth about this area that no one seems to ever really come back from. The biologist recently lost her husband to a previous expedition in Area X, lacks emotions. Even when talking about her lost husband, she doesn’t seem all that sad. This lack of character development is honestly my only issue with the first part of this trilogy. The main character was not relatable, and anytime this happens, it’s a problem. Despite that, I enjoyed reading Annihilation.

I will definitely read the Southern Reach Trilogy, however, I am in no hurry. Because of the writing style, it was not a fast read or easy read. I think to enjoy this one you really have to be in the right mood, and it caught me at just the right time.

4.5 Stars

Goodreads Rating: 3.62
Recommended for: Unreliable Narrator Lovers, Explorers, Reality Escapers
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Book Review: Sand

Sand Omnibus (Sand, #1-5)Sand by Hugh Howey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to bury this book in a dune somewhere because it’s just not worth the coin. I thought I would enjoy this like I did Wool, but it was about as easy to read as it is to run a mile on the beach. It was slow going, and I felt little motivation to complete it.

Sand is about family, justifying the things we do for our families to earn a living and also to keep ourselves afloat in the midst of all life blows our way. It’s about how we cope after an unexpected loss and always hoping there’s something better out there for us.

Out of all the problematic worlds I’ve read about, Hugh Howey has managed to create the one I would most likely not be able to tolerate. I might survive the world of Sand, but my sanity would not. Sand isn’t horrible because of a ferocious government, corrupted societal laws, or a declining ecosystem, though. I could not live in this world because of all the freaking sand everywhere. Always in my mouth, in my shoes, in my house, and forever sweeping and shoveling just for the wind to inevitably bring it back to me. No thanks.

Howey let loose in Sand with a mass of explicit vocabulary and not much, but just enough graphic imagery of bodies horrifically mangled, leaving plenty of unwanted images in my mind. I don’t mind a little language here and there or things of graphic nature when I’m anticipating it, but the way it leaped of the pages so unexpectedly left me in a state of shock.

I never felt tied to the characters, and I had trouble easing into the flow of this whole world. On a more positive note, there were a few good things I noted:
1. It was not predictable. No shocking endings or anything crazy, but there was not much of a basis to predict anything from. This could have been from the lack of foundation we had, though.
2. I’ve never read anything like it. The first section of the omnibus seemed like it was going to be just like Wool, too, which would have upset me. His world was not based off of any dystopian formula I’ve seen before, so we can commend him for that.
3. His ideas were clever. And honestly, they weren’t poorly constructed. Scuba diving through sand as one would through water made sense. I thought having the characters scavenge beneath their town for buried cities was probably the coolest thing about this book.
4. There are nuggets of universal wisdom scattered everywhere. “Witnessing the aftermath of the destruction made the danger…real. Fear required precedents.” I love being able to dismantle a quote from the text and be able to apply it to life in general.

I can’t say I haven’t learned anything from reading Sand, but my time spent reading it could have easily been better spent. I did not enjoy it, and for that I had to give it a 3/5. One thing I hope all who have read it or decide not to read it based on this review take away is we are all just grains of sand, helpless to where the wind takes us, drifting from one dune to the next. We are spit out, shaken from boots, and brushed off from shoulders, but we are the foundation of society.

Goodreads Rating: 3.96
Recommended for: Dystopian Lovers, Scuba Divers, Beach-Goers
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