Summary

World Fantasy Award winner VanderMeer turns in a dystopian story with literary overtones that's winning comparison to works by Margaret Atwood. According to the first expedition to Area X, which has been cut off from civilization for decades, the land there is an unspoiled Eden. But subsequent expeditions have met with catastrophe, and members of the 12th expedition simply hope to stay alive while mapping the terrain.


If J.J. Abrams, Margaret Atwood, and Alan Weisman collaborated on a novel . . . it might be this awesome


Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. 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 June, and volume three (Acceptance) in September.