Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer – A Book Review



For thirty years, Area X has remained mysterious and remote behind its intangible border – an environmental disaster zone, though to all appearances an abundant wilderness.
The Southern Reach, a secretive government agency, has sent eleven expeditions to investigate Area X. One has ended in mass suicide, another in a hail of gunfire, the eleventh in a fatal cancer epidemic.
Now four women embark on the twelfth expedition into the unknown.


Author: Jeff VanderMeer

Publisher: Fourth Estate

Page Count: 195

My Chosen Format: Paperback

My Rating of ‘Annihilation’: 1 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon UK, Amazon US



I’m one of those people who wasn’t aware the book ‘Annihilation’ existed until Netflix made a film based on it. I haven’t seen the film but, assuming they wouldn’t make a film out of something boring/unenjoyable, I excitedly grabbed a copy of this from my local library.

How wrong I was.

Admittedly, it wasn’t all bad. For the first 50 or so pages I was quite intrigued. The premise of being sent out into unknown wilderness to figure out what had befallen previous expeditions to the area is an exciting one. It has all the hallmarks of a heart-pumping, ‘good god, my blood is racing so fast I can hear it in my ears’ kind of thriller.

But it wasn’t.

It was so far from that, that I found myself reading it before bed on nights I couldn’t get tired enough to sleep. After ten pages or so it would knock me out like a light. Nothing happened. And the things that the author wanted to be exciting plot points, were things that had already happened before our heroine arrived so we just got to see the aftermath and had to sit through her bland musings on what might have occurred.

I use the word bland. I feel that I am being overly generous. None of the characters had any … character. The four main characters that we start the book with are female. But they might as well have been unthinking, unfeeling robots for all the character they exuded. Literally nothing other than the fact that one of them frequently remembers her husband gave me any indication that they might have been female. It just felt so hard going. And the flashbacks happened far too often and offered far too little to the story. The book was less than two-hundred pages and a good portion of it was flashbacks.

When you remove those and factor in how little actually happens, we are left with next to no exciting story with zero interest (from me at least, other readers may have had a far more enjoyable time with this) in the characters or what they were going through.

I’m sure some of the ‘revelations’ that we spy throughout Annihilation will come back to have some meaning in the next two books, but I’ll not be sticking around to find out as I just feel there is not enough pay-off for me to invest any more time in this.
It’s so very rarely that I give a one star score out, but I genuinely fell out of love with reading for a short while due to this book.

I didn’t pay for Annihilation but I feel cheated all the same, as I expected so much more from such a good concept. That is, perhaps, more my fault than the author’s, in all fairness.



29 thoughts on “Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer – A Book Review

  1. Eesh! I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it! I liked Annihilation, but I can see why others wouldn’t. It does seem to promise a horror story and that’s really not what it is. I think VanderMeer is probably an acquired taste. (Also- if you didn’t like this you definitely wouldn’t like book two.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was thinking of you when I wrote the bit about their not being much pay off in my reading the next ones as you mentioned this was the one you enjoyed most.

      Its a shame as I really wanted to enjoy it. Honestly feel I could have done so much if I was writing with that blurb as a starting point.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Was it me you convinced you to read this next? (Sorry- it’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks!) I’ll have to see if there’s any thing better I can send your way! I hope you can get back to reading soon!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I can’t remember either haha

        I have since gotten back to reading. This was finished a fortnight ago and I just flat out refused to write a review right away. Was kind of hoping to reflect on it and see if anything positive came to mind. Always do that for something that could score a 1 star.

        Currently reading The Fourth Monkey. And have a review for Nevernight due soon, despite saying it was off my TBR 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I completely forgot to tell you this- because as we’ve established I’m not the greatest blogger- but I nominated you for The Mystery Blogger Award. No pressure if you don’t want to participate, but I just wanted to let you know!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Haha! Nothing too painful. Share three facts about yourself and answer five questions about your reading habits. I’ll see if I can send the link when I get home.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. This is one of those books that people love or hate. You never know, your experience might be different. Perhaps I just expected too much. I do scratch my head in wonder whenever I see a 5 star for this, though 🙈

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve only ever seen the film adaptation of Annihilation, but apparently, it’s quite a departure from the book. The film is highly regarded by most people who have seen it, but I wouldn’t put it in my top ten. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it was definitely a product of its scene, and it was a weaker effort for it.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I thought it was better than Alex Garland’s debut film, but I can’t quite give it a straight recommendation. It really is mired in the worst aspects of 2010s sci-fi.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a huge departure from the book. I enjoyed the movie, but for entirely different reasons than I enjoyed the book. I should also mention I have terrible taste in movies, and basically anything with monsters will float my boat.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Even if I merely thought it was decent, I think Annihilation was a major improvement over Ex Machina, if nothing else. Having an array of creative monsters certainly helped.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You should write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and demand that the author give your time back. Or a million pounds (you guys still use pounds, right? The whole Euro thing still confuses the heck out of me).

    I saw enough reviews about the movie to know it wasn’t for me but I’ve always toyed with maybe adding the trilogy of books to my tbr someday. Not now. My time is valuable. Worth more than even a million pounds 😉

    Liked by 2 people

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