Annihilation : Southern Reach Trilogy

  • by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Narrated by Carolyn McCormick
  • Series: Southern Reach Trilogy
  • 6 hrs and 0 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

If J.J. Abrams and Margaret Atwood collaborated on a novel, it might look something like Annihilation, the first in an extraordinary trilogy. Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilisation.
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. Annihilation is the first volume in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, which will be published throughout 2014: Volume two (Authority) in May, and volume three (Acceptance) in September.

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What the Critics Say

"A tense and chilling psychological thriller about an unravelling expedition and the strangeness within us. A little Kubrick, a lot of Lovecraft, the novel builds with an unbearable tension and claustrophobic dread that lingers long afterwards. I loved it." (Lauren Beukes, award-winning author of Zoo City and The Shining Girls)
"Original and beautiful, maddening and magnificent." (Warren Ellis)
"One of those books where it all comes together - the story and the prose and the ideas, all braided into a triple helix that gives rise to something vibrant and alive. Something that grows, word-by-word, into powerful, tangled vines that creep into your mind and take hold of it. Annihilation is brilliant and atmospheric, a novel that has the force of myth." (Charles Yu, author of How to Live in a Science Fictional Universe)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

An interesting story let down by the production

A creepy, other-world story that reminded me of a cross between Ian Banks (not the scifi) with a dash of Into the mountains of madness. But, oh god, the narration!

The dialogue was delivered well but , on the whole, this has either been badly edited or her read was done in a hurry. There are no gaps over 1 second between sentences. The text runs into itself. Sentences are left meaningless and there is no sense of pace. Tension is killed. With a little more breathing space the mistakes in the read could have been forgiven - McCormick can get the tone right. I just found myself shouting "PARAGRAPH" a lot.

It's a shame the production spoils an otherwise interesting story
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- Andy

Compellingly narrated

What made the experience of listening to Annihilation the most enjoyable?

The book is brilliantly narrated, a nice range of modulation without ever going over the top or becoming distracting.


What other book might you compare Annihilation to, and why?

The opening third focuses on the interpersonal politics of a group of researchers, and in that way reminded me of Le Guin's 'Vaster Than Empires, and More Slow.

'The middle third owes a great debt to Lovecraft's 'At the Mountains of Madness.'

The impact of research on a personal relationship reminded me of the Chiang short-story 'Division by Zero.'


Which scene did you most enjoy?

There's both humour and drama in the first act's scenes featuring the interactions of a group of scientists, each with different specialisms. I particularly enjoyed those.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The mad rush of the very ending, and the prospect of the future it looked out upon, I found affecting.

This was particularly because the book had sagged in the middle, and the writing in those parts seemed stale, which highlighted the verve and panache with which the conclusion was accomplished.


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- Teorgian

Book Details

  • Release Date: 27-02-2014
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Limited