I Wanna Be Literated #236

I Wanna Be Literated #236

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

(Southern Reach Series Book #2)
by Jeff VanderMeer

Chalk Annihilation up to one of those books that was loaded with potential and was unsuccessfully adapted for the big screen. It’s a shame too, because few books are as intriguing, spooky and downright chilling at that first Annihilation book. It’s such a gripping rich story that the cliffhanger ending (almost literally) eggs the reader to keep reading. I don’t know if the Southern Reach Trilogy was originally intended as such, but I was squarely on board after the weirdness of Annihilation. This second book Authority is the next chapter.

Authority focuses almost entirely outside of Area X and mostly on the Southern Reach and its new director Control Rodriguez. So, this book does something that’s hard not to appreciate which is to shift its tone entirely in order to keep building its world. Of course you’re going to lose some readers this way, but I pressed on and found this to be a strong follow up to the events of the previous book.

Control is new in the company and in way over his head and we get to experience the Southern Reach through his eyes. As you can imagine, it’s pretty clear that something is quite off about this place and Control must maneuver through the politics and personalities to get to the bottom of some questions – any questions. Frustrations reveal themselves (both for our new protagonist and reader) as everyone seems to treat Control with some form of hostility and it’s kind of hard to find some stability to ground the strange events that keep happening in this book.

The eeriness of Annihilation is certainly present in this book particularly as we get some answers to the plethora of questions generated before, but only some of them are satisfying. The rest just generate more questions or seem like non-answers which lead the reader to ask “OK, so?.”

Authority does its job in keeping this world interesting and certainly drives the story forward without losing momentum. We are given shreds of information which we grasp for frantically and serve as a perfect setup for the conclusion that awaits us. This time, we are a little more hesitant.

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