Don't read this book.
I really liked the first book in the series, Annihilation. The writing was concise and there was a lot of action. A lot of things were left unanswered, but I assumed they would be in the next two books. Wrong.
Best way to describe the second book? He took 100 pages of action and crammed it into 550. Meandering thoughts that broke up the story line, so many SAT words that had to read several passages more than once just to understand what I was reading. If you don't know what flense means, you better have a dictionary close by when you read this book.
I love to read. I'm a fairly well educated person. I did not enjoy this book. Don't waste your time.
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This second book of the trilogy is sensational, extremely well written and unnerving. I had no intention of reading the entire trilogy when I started Annihilation but now I can't stop; it's like a new addiction. So it's on to Acceptance...I hope I make it!
Constantly skipping sentences because this was so slow. Zero payoff at the end for all the detective work. Loved the first book but this was a huge drop off. On to the last book, better make up for this!
The Southern Reach Volume 2: Where the Pros Go Weird
In this second volume of the Southern Reach Trilogy, we get to look inside the shadowy government organization which is trying to both study and contain the mysterious Area X. Our protagonist is "Control" who is assigned by Central to replace the now-missing Director of the Southern Reach. We follow him as he tries to figure out the Southern Reach's eccentric staff, and to question the "Biologist" our protagonist from the first novel who has mysteriously returned from the previous expedition. Things are not at all in order in the scientific research station that has been studying Area X since it occurred. It reminds me of the saying that when one stares in to the abyss, the abyss also stares into you. As he begins to unravel the mystery, events begin to come to a head with significant and unexpected changes in the formerly stable nature of Area X itself.
The book introduces an new character, Control, and gives us a window into the mind and upbringing of a shadowy government agent. He isn't always a likable character, but is multifaceted, and you do empathize with him. His journey from secret government field agent, to administrative "fixer," then to director of the oddest scientific research facility studying a secret and mysterious area is both interesting and disturbing. Mr. Vandermeer can make what should be mundane bureaucratic detail ominous and dark. The surprising conclusion of the book has me anticipating the no-doubt exciting revelations of volume three!
By Nickname which is creative
I have really enjoyed reading these books, despite being a little annoyed with Authority. Of the three, I found the second somewhat tedious, with me always wanting to skip 3 or 4 sentences ahead in a paragraph, going back to reread them, then realizing I didn’t miss anything with the skipping. The story seemed erratic, always teetering on giving explanation, but stopping just short of it. Mostly with a lot of very wordy dialogue from Control. This book doesn’t seem to be as esoteric as the other two. It served as background, mostly about Control, a little about Central and the Southern Reach, but mostly it just served a bridge between the first and the third books. There was a lot of alluding to what was seen and experienced in Area X. But, just that, allusion; stopping short of description. I have very much enjoyed how this author teases out experiences with, and possible origins of, Area X, and then actually follows up with some kind of explanation from the characters own experiences instead of leaving the reader hanging. Authority was mostly just the tease, obervations from an outsider with no clue, just like the readers. I found the really good writing and supurb story telling in the first and third novels. In all, I will not say it was a terrible read, but not the best volume in the series.
This book is the second in a series and I am more lost than after the first one. It's awesome. Read it.
A perfect bridge
Authority by Jeff VanderMeer is the second novel in his Southern Reach Trilogy, the link between beginning and end. Authority takes place not long after the events in Annihilation. The obscure top-secret government agency tasked with monitoring Area X, The Southern Reach, is in a state of chaos. Their body count is high, their funding is spent, their insight into Area X amounts to a little less than nothing. Almost every agent they've sent into Area X has never returned. Almost. Some have returned only to die of a rapidly killing form of cancer, others suffered severe memory loss. The Southern Reach is a ship that needs righted before it sinks. Enter John Rodriguez a.k.a. "Control," a man who's been in the covert-ops game his entire adult life. Control is a "fixer," he's used to being dropped into situations that need corrected, sorting out the Southern Reach isn't his first rodeo, though, it definitely could be his last. People involved with Area X have trouble maintaining a heart-beat.
Authority is a very different novel compared to Annihilation, don't pick it up expecting Annihilation II. While Annihilation showed readers Area X from within, the way it maims, kills, Authority shows readers Area X from the outside, how it destroys the lives of those simply trying to understand what happened, trying to understand how the place even exists. We see this destruction through the eyes of Control, newly assigned as the acting-Director of The Southern Reach. Control is our narrator, he's quick-witted, hard-working, with an amusingly dark sense of humor. It also becomes apparent soon enough that Control is in way over his head. The further he digs into The Southern Reach, Area X, the more he realizes that he is completely lost. He knows only two facts; Area X is lethal, and those who work at The Southern Reach, those with the highest level of clearance with the deepest connection to Area X, they don't get to keep their sanity. With each question answered, Control is punched in the face with ten more. He doesn't have to wonder why his colleagues are ready to bust out butterfly nets. It's not terribly long before Control's ready to grab a net and join in the chase. The story needs its moments of gallows levity, otherwise readers might end up not far off from Control's state-of-mind. The novel is that immersive. As Control loses control of the situation, so does the reader. We feel what he feels, confusion that becomes fear that becomes abject terror. Authority is a psychological horror story, it's about trying to comprehend an evil that's incomprehensible. Area X is an evil that shows no mercy, it only demonstrates death, cold and unwavering.
VanderMeer creates an intense feeling of dread that grows with each turn of the page. We know that something bad is coming, but we don't know what, or when. The novel gives readers fear of something malevolent that destroys one's mind long before one's body. The loss of self is something terrifying, it's a fear that VanderMeer taps into with subtle grace. Authority really showcases Jeff VanderMeer's talent for scaring the Hell out of people, lights on or off. Authority is slower-paced than Annihilation, it's richer in psychological horror, character development, at the sacrifice of action. This isn't a minus, it merely shows VanderMeer's range of craft.
To me, The Southern Reach Trilogy is a literary chess match. With Annihilation, VanderMeer put his pieces on the board with efficiency and speed. With Authority, he methodically arranged his strategy, letting us capture just enough of his pieces to clear the board so he can show us that we've been wrangled into his devastating checkmate, The Southern Reach Trilogy's end, Acceptance.
I totally can't wait to see this thing through.