Annihilation introduces the disturbing dystopian world of Area X. It tells us little of the world outside of Area X and less about the actual area. The characters don't have names but are known as the biologist, the psychologist, the surveyor and the anthropologist and they are members of the twelfth expedition to Area X. The biologist's husband was on the eleventh expedition and he did come back (unlike most explorers of the region) but frighteningly changed. The biologist decides to apply to be part of Expedition 12 and is accepted. This is where the story begins.
The expedition is conducted over the border (which may or may not exist) and heads to the base camp left by expedition 11. The characters seem at odds with one another from the outset and then we find that there is a degree of mind control through hypnosis. A flat cement structure marks the opening to a tunnel that the biologist can only see as a tower. Luminescent writing marks one wall of the tunnel and the biologist discovers the cryptic writing is created by living creatures.
Area X just gets stranger. No one was allowed to bring modern technology or weapons with them. The reasons for this and the tragic fate of the expedition make riveting reading. Part of the message seems to be an ecological warning but it is also a great mystery. Strangeness and uncertainty dominate the book. Since it is Book 1 of the Southern Reach Trilogy there is no resolution to the story. No spoilers. If you like dystopian tales with suspense, horror and psychological thrills thrown in, Annihilation is a book for you.
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