There’s a special summer reading program event: Fines Forgiveness Week. If you check out five books in the week of July 12-18th or write five short book reviews, ALL your fines will be forgiven. Of course, if you read any five books in the next two months, you’ll also get a prize.
Whether you’re itchin’ for a prize or forgiven fines, we’ll try to post a weekly reading suggestion that we think will help you on your way to the big 5 :
This week’s Summer Reading Pick is Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation, book one of his The Southern Reach Trilogy. In 2014, the trilogy was published in quick succession and now has been released in a beautifully bound omnibus. The focus of its cover is Area X.
The text of Annhiliation exists within Area X. We ostensibly read the journal left behind by ‘the biologist’ of the ‘12th expedition’. After days of trekking, we may have found it on top of a moldering midden of journals. Sadly, it will offer only terrifying prospects into the nature of this uncanny environment.
Area X, as vividly described by ‘the biologist’, suddenly transformed into existence thirty years prior within the limits of a former military compound. The area is now an ecological mystery. Here, seasons dramatically and inexplicably shift; species normally found in specific ecosystems begin to live and thrive in others; mixed species of birds flock together; and most importantly, human life vanishes into the landscape. Since its creation, expeditions have been sent in to observe the lush and dramatic ecosystems of Area X and better understand its source – for it may pose an existential threat.
Plot is important and I won’t spoil it, but I’ll leave you with this vague remark: Area X is an ecosystem that has learned language, a language with a physically transformative syntax. Ambiguous signification radiates from the most mundane objects – ‘for nothing is simply one thing’ – and it’s horrifying.
It’s also a quick read! Check it out, add it to your list of five books, and get a prize or even your fines forgiven!