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text 2015-08-11 23:05
Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer
Acceptance: The Southern Reach Trilogy, Book 3 - Jeff VanderMeer,Carolyn McCormick,Bronson Pinchot,Xe Sands

I'm throwing in the towel. I know that so many other people enjoyed this series, and perhaps I would have enjoyed it more had I not listened to the audio versions, I don't know.

 

Either way, I'm not rating this or counting it in my challenge. I just lost interest. 

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review 2015-08-08 08:27
Acceptance - Book 3 of The Southern Reach Trilogy
Acceptance (The Southern Reach Trilogy) - Jeff VanderMeer
The three novels of the Southern Reach Trilogy amount to the best recent science fiction series that I have read. Let's define recent as within the last decade.
Why so good? It comes down to a combination of literary skill coupled with a scorchingly original pathway of ideas. I'm choosing words carefully here: pathway of ideas rather than "plot." Plot connotes a concrete vehicle that moves the reader forward. With these books, the reading experience goes beyond the conventional thrust of storytelling. Like Area X itself, VanderMeer's writing frightens and disorients, so that by the end, we don't know quite what has occurred. These books are something a reader or listener experiences rather than merely following a chain of events. In its pages are some of the most quietly unsettling descriptions of human madness that I've encountered in fiction.
 
None of this works at all if the author fails to deliver interesting characters. I thought about this last point quite a lot as Acceptance unfolded. VanderMeer establishes his characters and their gnarly relationships in Annihilation and Authority, filling in their lives and back stories with the deft touch of a master short story writer. By the time we reach Acceptance, the table has been set and we can feast on the interplay of these characters. Having this advantage, VanderMeer takes on a more ambitious narrative structure, shifting between present tense viewpoints of all main characters, but also providing a lengthy section from the Biologist's Area X journal and illuminating the backstory of a character whose presence darkened the first two installments: the lighthouse keeper, Saul! As "Patient Zero," it's Saul's account that provides the most chills. This is because he is the most ignorant of any of the characters we've encountered with regard to the region's power. For this reason, his experiences, as he is slowly altered by whatever forces are at work in and around his lighthouse, take on a more panicked and visceral quality. 
It's books like these that make reading so much fun. I'm giddy just to share a planet for a few decades with the mastermind behind this literary world.
 
Jeff VanderMeer - you are the man!
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review 2015-05-28 01:39
You find yourself in Area X...
Acceptance (The Southern Reach Trilogy) - Jeff VanderMeer

When you're dealing with a series as freaky wig-out as the Southern Reach, it's difficult to wrap things up satisfactorily. You could go the way of the X-Files, and just get stupider and stupider until you die, having destroyed the mystery with a drearily linear explanation that insults everyone's intelligence. Some just never wrap, eventually howling out into the the void with less and less coherence, until it's just eidolon arms writhing in a no space. I think both have their problems, but I do have a preference for the screaming void. I felt like Acceptance cut the difference, which works better than it should, compromises being what they are. That said, I think there could have been maybe 15 more pages of coda. Shrug emoticon. 

 

Acceptance is the third in the Southern Reach series, which heretofore has been tight little Gothic mindjobs. The first follows a biologist on an excursion into Area X, an uncanny bit of landscape on the "forgotten coast". (I'd put it mid-Atlantic: above DC, below Maine.) The second follows the newly appointed director of Southern Reach, the clandestine organization which monitors Area X. Both books are suffocatingly personal books, written in a tight third person, and both occur in short time frames: maybe a week, a month. Both are regretful, in a way, both their characters on the wrong side of meaningful lives. Both creeped me the fuck right out.

 

Acceptance instead has four or five point of view characters (all of whom we've met in the previous books). There's even a point of view character written in the second person, which seemed just bizarre and unneccesary. Honest to glob, I spent way more time than I should trying to work out why this one character was second person, and I have no answers, especially given who the character it is. I mean, I can see how she's a pivot in a way, a bridge, but I'm not sure this translates into you. Or me. Whichever, second person is a pain in the ass. If any of y'all do have an answer, drop me a line. The time frame also cuts between a then and a now, sometimes confusingly, which is either a bug or a feature, not sure.

 

So, I liked the answers I got, and I liked that I didn't get all the answers.VanderMeer's been building some metaphorical systems through the series, and in many places, he just laid the final card on the tower, and then gave it room. Honestly, that kind of restraint is commendable in an author, especially in science fiction which tends to the monologue at the end, letting you know how clever everything is. I have some reservations, but mostly they are personal weirdnesses, and not something the average reader is going to get fussed about. I bolted this trilogy down in a way I haven't in a long time, and that is really saying something. Good show. 

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text 2015-04-03 20:28
Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance - Jeff VanderMeer

Binge-read this book through finishing Horman project with Victoria. Left wishing there were more explanation, but more satisfied than at the end of each part.

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review 2014-12-06 16:06
Book Review: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Annihilation - Jeff VanderMeer

The Basics

Out of nowhere, Area X appeared. No one knows why or where from. In an effort to answer those questions, Southern Reach has sent out teams to research Area X. A different fate befalls each one, and now they’re up to group twelve, consisting of an all female team who have no idea what they’re getting into.

My Thoughts

What do I even say about a book that might easily be in my top five for this year? I adored this. It’s everything I love about science fiction combined with everything I love about horror. It does everything right. It was a mysterious and thrilling page-turner. It was compact, concise, and affecting. And it even managed to do things with characters that I’ve never seen done before in this genre.

For starters, it’s an all-female cast. All of them have what is considered predominantly male professions. You will not find hysteria and tears here when things get tough. There’s an emphasis on science and logic. Even our main narrator has flaws that are typically considered for male characters only, in that she’s emotionally unavailable, socially awkward, and logical to the point of seeming downright cold. The previous expedition was an entirely male team, and when we hear more details about that, they come off as way more unorganized and broken down than the female team. I can’t even express how much I appreciated that VanderMeer did this. That he broke those gender boundaries and rejected the stereotypes. This book is so feminist that I’m surprised more people haven’t latched onto it as an example of how gender-blind science fiction should be.

The biologist (all the characters are known only by their professions) can be seen as an unlikeable character, and I understand that thwarted a lot of people in reading it. They hated her. I admit that I don’t see it. We’re reading her journal, and while she does give some insight into her reasons for being there and her life before Area X, she still struggles to be open. I think in her writing style, what she clearly values, and how the most romantic she can be is in writing scientifically, VanderMeer created a very unique person. And he wrote her incredibly well. She was the perfect character to face a situation like the one she’d presented with and be perfectly transparent and fascinated but also not overly Maudlin. But then I’ve never struggled with needing to love a character to find them interesting and wanting more of their story. In a way, I did find things to love with the biologist. Mainly that she was so different than most of what I read regarding female characters.

The story itself raises questions, answers some, and leaves others for sequels as this was the first book in a trilogy. It’s made me absolutely ravenous for the next two books but not pissed about cliffhangers, so I’d say in that regard he struck a good balance. Enough to keep you reading, but not enough to feel frustrating as this book does have a loose conclusion to it.

I definitely intend to keep reading as I’m fully invested already, just from this slim volume. I think for fans of cosmic horror and any kind of weird fiction, this is for you. Do try to keep an open mind, as this doesn’t have the trope-y, sci-fi protagonists we’re all used to.

Final Rating

5/5

 

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