Search our site
Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner Read the opening extract of the brand new Susie Steiner book before its publication on 05/04/2018

Reader Reviewed
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer


Science Fiction   Literary Fiction   eBook Favourites   
Download an extract Discuss on Facebook Discuss this book on our Literary Contemporary Facebook group Share this book

Lovereading view...

I am an absolute sucker both for quest-through-the-wilderness tales, and for post-apocalyptic landscapes. Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation delivers both, in creepily brilliant and utterly unforgettable style. Narrated by an unnamed female biologist, it tells of a scientific expedition - the latest of many failed ventures - into a desolate wilderness known as Area X, where they hear a "low, powerful moaning" at dusk. "I would tell you the names of the other three, if it mattered," the biologist tells us, doomily, "but only the surveyor would last more than the next day or two." It all gets progressively more sinister and alien and uncanny and disastrous - I'm not sure I've read a book which scared me, and stayed with me so much, for years - with the story expanded on in the world outside Area X in the following two novels in VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, Authority and Acceptance. A slice of dreamily written, haunting literary science fiction flows through the whole trilogy. ~ Alison Flood

The Southern Reach Trilogy:
1. Annihilation
2. Authority
3. Acceptance

If you like Jeff VanderMeer you might also like to read books by Jeff Noon, Kelly Link and J. G. Ballard.

Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

  • Jennifer Rainbow - 'Imaginative, compulsively readable and at times unnerving, I loved this book it dragged me into it's weird world and wouldn't let go. An unusual book, an antidote to popular 'normal' fiction.'
  • Victoria Emerson - 'I loved this book! With its beautifully written prose, and dark and eerie setting I couldn't put it down.'
  • Suzanne James - 'I don't often say this but I just couldn't put it down. From the very beginning this had me hooked...'
  • Russ Pasquill - 'This novel quickly creates an eerie, unnerving atmosphere in what appears to be a pleasant wild life park.'
  • Karen McIntosh - 'The story of what they find and who or what is behind it is interesting and I did enjoy the book.'
  • Judith Griffith - 'An atmospheric read but doesn't quite develop as well as expected and leaves you unfulfilled at the end. But then it is the first of a trilogy!'
  • Ray Orgill - 'This first book of The Southern Reach trilogy has all the makings of a cult series.'
  • Judith Smith - 'Totally compelling - I couldn't put it down.'
  • Jacki Moorcroft - 'A strangely compelling read which left me wanting to know what happened next, which is a good enough reason to now get books two & three!'
  • Sarah Musk - 'An intriguing, mysterious book set in the mysterious Area X where some environmental disaster has occurred. A chilling read with images that are difficult to forget.'
  • Edel Waugh - 'I really enjoyed this book as it has a dreamlike quality to it so you are constantly wondering what is going to happen next. We get glimpses into the past too ... making it hard to put down as you want this crew to do well and get the hell out of there!'
  • Clare Topping - 'It is one of those books that became a page turner about halfway through. For anyone into serious sci-fi then this is probably bland and perhaps slightly unoriginal. That said, I am considering reading the other two books…'
  • Teresa O'Halloran - 'A very weird book about a very weird and creepy place. At times I felt afraid to turn the page.'
  • Cyllene Griffiths - 'It’s a while since I read a truly spooky sci-fi thriller but Annihilation definitely hits the spot - be aware that you will have to get the next in the trilogy! Not only thought-provoking but truly a page turner, with vivid and involving descriptions.'
  • Zarina de Ruiter - 'Annihilation has a promising premise, that's for sure, but there is such a thing as being too ambiguous and VanderMeer has, to me, unfortunately tipped too far into that direction.'
  • Sarah Tiley - 'Read it and be surprised. It is unlike anything I have read before, as I am not a Sci-Fi fan, but this was a very unusual and gripping tale.'


Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

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.



`I'm loving the Southern Reach Trilogy ... Creepy and fascinating Stephen King

`Hauntingly weird and brilliantly new ... These are contemporary masterpieces and career-defining novels Adam Robert, Books of the Year, Guardian

`This trilogy is a modern mycological masterpiece ... Remarkable ... Tense, eerie and unsettling ... VanderMeer writes much better prose than Poe ever did ... This is genuinely potent and dream-haunting writing. VanderMeer has arrived Guardian

`A teeming science fiction that draws on Conrad and Lovecraft alike ... Annihilation shows signs of being the novel that will allow VanderMeer to break through to a new and larger audience Sunday Telegraph

`A lasting monument to the uncanny ... You find yourself afraid to turn the page Guardian

`VanderMeer's novel is a psycho-geographical tour de force, channelling Ballard and Lovecraft to instil the reader with a deep, delicious unease Financial Times

`What a haunting book this is, lodging deep in the memory in similar fashion to otherworldly classics such as David Lindsay's A Voyage To Arcturus ... Annihilation is so disquietingly strange as to defy summarisation. Read it Daily Mail

`Astonishing, frightening, spectacular ... I hope the trilogy will come to be seen not only as the instant sci-fi classic it is, but also as Literature New Statesman

`Immersive, insightful and often deeply bloody creepy, this is a startlingly good novel ... A major work' ***** SFX Magazine

`A tense and chilling psychological thriller about an unravelling expedition and the strangeness within us. A little Kubrick, a lot of Lovecraft, the novel builds with an unbearable tension and claustrophobic dread that lingers long afterwards. I loved it Lauren Beukes

`Original and beautiful, maddening and magnificent Warren Ellis

About the Author

Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer is an award-winning novelist and editor. His fiction has been translated into twenty languages and has appeared in the Library of America’s American Fantastic Tales and in multiple year’s-best anthologies. He writes nonfiction for the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review, the Los Angeles Times, and the Guardian, among others. He grew up in the Fiji Islands and now lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with his wife.

More books by this author
Author 'Like for Like' recommendations

Loading similar books...
Loading other formats...

Book Info

Publication date

22nd February 2018


Jeff VanderMeer

More books by Jeff VanderMeer
Author 'Like for Like'

Author's Website

Author's Facebook Latest

Loading facebook updates...
Loading twitter updates...


Fourth Estate Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


208 pages


Science Fiction
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Science fiction



Lovereading tells me about new books before they hit the shelves, lets me find other authors I may like and has great prize draws!

Sheila Dale

I love reading because my cares & woes vanish for an hour or two whilst I read of the joys, adventures, lives of the characters in the book.

Jennifer Moville

With literary excellence, humour and drama, Lovereading's got value and is a real stress-calmer!

Siobhan McDowell

Lovereading does a stella job in promoting both new and established authors.

Iris Clements

Lovereading is pitched at just the right level for all the various types of people who enjoy reading in its many forms.

Pam Woodburn

Lovereading has all the new books and also suggestions for 'similar' authors whilst waiting for your favourites new books.

Carol Peace

If you love reading, then you'll love Lovereading! Full of tips & info for every discerning reader.

Lynne Rapson

The best new books on the market, reviewed honestly, to give your readers the best choices.

Julie Cook