So, the second Southern Reach cycle book then (the previous book being Annihilation which was the source for the film with that bear). An alienated special agent is assigned to the base that borders the Area and struggles to achieve anything…
Whilst the first book was obviously strange and excellent (though it is fuzzy in my memory, like something inherited from another me), this sequel was much more oppressive and static. I know some friends didn’t get on with it, but I enjoyed the exploration of this obsessive, solitary, alienated man screwed up by his family and his failures, attempting to unravel what was happening and push through the politics and the awkwardness of his conditioning.
I can also see why some people bounced off it, because of that feeling and setting, especially if you’re a speed reader hungry for plot. For me, Vandermeer always just crafts phrases and descriptions that carry me through when the pace drops:
“…above, the reflected glow of the city pushed the first stars farther into the heavens.”
“…more and more in the modern Internet era you came across isolated instances of a mind virus or worm: brains that self-washed, bathed in received ideologies that came down from on high, ideologies that could remain dormant or hidden for years, silent as death until they struck.”
“He used guns, but he didn’t like them and didn’t like relying on them. They smelled like their perspective.”
Onto the third!
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