The Southern Reach trilogy

I finished Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy – Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance — this weekend.

It’s so sad, y’all.

Here’s the thing that leads me to believe that these books are genuinely and specifically good — I cared about the characters even though I did not understand what was happening.

I didn’t always understand what was going on in the book — not because of bad writing, but because the narrators did not understand — and I didn’t mind. I wanted to know, at every moment, how the characters were feeling what they were thinking, what they did, what was going to happen next.

That is some really damn good writing.

Without giving too much away, The Southern Reach books concern themselves with an institutional and individual human response to some sort of incursion from elsewhere. There are scenes that are skin-crawlingly horrific, and there are many more scenes in the later books where we know that This Can’t Possibly End Well because we already know some other part. And the books are sad, sad, so very sad. Isolation is a major theme, as are lying and betrayal.

Yet the books are beautiful and moving, and incredibly well-executed.

I recommend them.

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