Review: Annihilation


Review for “Annihilation” by Jeff VanderMeer (2014)

Rating: None (DNF)

I DNF’d this at about 50% percent.

I have to admit that this novel did spark my curiosity at first. The setting has a definite creep factor and it fits squarely in the sci-fi genre, two things that I like. As far as the story itself, “Annihilation” is about four women explorers–a biologist, a psychologist, a surveyor, and an anthropologist–commissioned by a presumed government agency known as the “Southern Reach.” The team is the 12th expedition to the area, all other efforts to explore the region have failed and ended in the deaths of the explorers. The names for the women are never given, they are only there to work together, explore Area X, and report back to the agency with their findings. The story, however, is told by the biologist, who writes her findings in a journal.

Immediately upon entering Area X you know that things are not what they appear to be. The land is uninhabited, though there is evidence that humans lived there. Upon entering, the team discovers a tower (or is it a tunnel?) that is not on the map, with strange plant-like spores and cryptic writing inside. The mystery of the tower (tunnel?) is obviously the crux of the book (there are pages and pages of descriptions about it, veering dangerously into Big Dumb Object territory) but it all got so boring that it just wasn’t enough to sustain my interest in continuing.

For the first 10%, I was willing to suspend my disbelief long enough to give this a chance but by the middle, it no longer seemed worth it. The characters have no real personality and are so frustratingly neutral that I was disengaged from about the 10% mark onward. For my time invested, I felt like all of the weirdness went nowhere. Hence, I stopped reading.

I probably will see the movie for this one, which is due in theaters in a few days. Though I am in the the “I Didn’t Get It” crowd, I’m still, in some ways, curious about the Area X mystery. I probably won’t read the rest of this series though to find out. I do want to know what it is, I’m not that damn curious. Not by a long-shot.

Review: The Postmortal

Review for "The Postmortal" by Drew Magary (2011)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

“The Postmortal” is an interesting lil’ science fiction novel with a dystopian slant (and I’m a sucker for anything dystopian, lemme tell ya). The premise of this book is what drew me to it: a world in which a cure is discovered for aging. With an injection, recipients will never age past the day they received their “cure,” and the only death they can anticipate will not be a natural one, but a violent one that they either bring to themselves or someone else brings upon them.

We follow one character, John, as he receives the cure in the beginning of the novel, sometime in his early 30’s. The book tracks his trajectory over the next 80+ years through his journal entries (apparently being shared with us from a time even farther in the future) as the society around him pretty much goes straight to hell. The cure for old age has deleterious effects on not only society, but the world as we see the fallout from the fact that people aren’t dying naturally anymore. The world becomes overpopulated, random violence and terrorism increases, resources become scarce, and people begin doing what’s known as “cycle” marriages. Sure it’s weird, but I liked this aspect of the book. If you’re into dystopian lit, as I’ve stated that I am, nothing fascinates you more than watching the planet inch itself toward doom. Seriously.

What I didn’t like was the main character, and really all of the characters in this book. Everyone felt rather flat and as bland as dishwater. Society is crumbling around them, yet none of the characters seemed to care, going about their daily business without alarm or feeling the slightest bit scared. As a reader, you’re far more invested in their future than they are, which doesn’t make for the best reading and completely disengaged me from this book.

Once again, this isn’t a bad read, but one I wouldn’t necessarily recommend if you’re into an all-around good read.