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Authority: A Novel (The Southern Reach Trilogy) Paperback – May 6, 2014
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“Authority isn't a book that just picks up where the last one left off. Instead, it's packed full of new pleasures, not only new characters and settings but whole new kinds of writing. If Annihilation is an expedition novel painted with a thick coat of weird, then Authority is a spy novel given the same dark lacquer . . . Which makes me desperate to know what the third book is going to be like--whether it will be some mixture of the two, Jurassic Park meets James Bond, or some third thing entirely.” ―Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
“The great thing about Annihilation is the strange, elusive, and paranoid world that it creates. The great thing about Authority is the way it takes the premises that we think we know about that world and turns them inside out, destabilizing everything in a way that makes it even more strange and elusive, and makes us the ones who feel paranoid. A stunning book, followed by a second stunning book that makes you rethink the first.” ―Brian Evenson, author of Last Days with praise for THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
“A clear triumph for VanderMeer, who after numerous works of genre fiction has suddenly transcended genre with a compelling, elegant and existential story of far broader appeal.” ―Lydia Millet, Los Angeles Times with praise for THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
“Unsettling and un-put-downable--like an old-fashioned adventure story, only weirder, beautifully written, and not at all old-fashioned.” ―Karen Joy Fowler, BookPage with praise for THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
“Chilling.” ―Julie Bosman, The New York Times with praise for THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
“Ingenious.” ―Laura Miller, Salon with praise for THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
“Enthralling.” ―Tara Wanda Merrigan, GQ with praise for THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
“Fans of the Lost TV series . . . this one is for you.” ―Molly Driscoll, The Christian Science Monitor
“[Annihilation] will make you believe in the power of science mysteries again.” ―Annalee Newitz, io9 with praise for THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
“Successfully creepy.” ―Sara Sklaroff, The Washington Post with praise for THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
“Fascinating.” ―John Domini, Miami Herald with praise for THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
“[Annihilation] teases and terrifies and fascinates.” ―Kevin Nguyen, Grantland with praise for THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
“Dazzling.” ―Peter Straub, author of Lost Boy, Lost Girl with praise for THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
“Haunted and haunting.” ―Kelly Link, author of Magic for Beginners with praise for THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
“Original and beautiful, maddening and magnificent.” ―Warren Ellis with praise for THE SOUTHERN REACH TRILOGY
Top Customer Reviews
In Annihilation Jeff VanderMeer's writing really shined. His descriptions of the natural habitat and the artifacts in Area X were lyrical and strong. I can still see the "tower" and the lighthouse in my mind's eye. This was combined with the lurking dread of the Biologist exploring Area X, which provided the drive for VanderMeer's surrealistic plot.
Authority is told from the point of view of Control (the alias used by John Rodrigues) who is the newly appointed director of the Southern Reach, which is a sub-agency (of Central) that is assigned to research Area X.
VanderMeer's writing is still good, but the lyricism of describing the pristine wilderness of Area X is replaced by the claustrophobic description of the Southern Reach and its bureaucratic battles. The surrealism which is the hallmark of VanderMeer's writing dominates Authority. There were places where an event took place only to be explained in retrospect, which at times forced me to reread sections. In other places I found that some plot elements were not explained at all (what happens to Controls Mother?) Perhaps these plot elements will be picked up in Acceptance (which I have also ordered). The three books have the feel of a single large novel that is being published in three pieces.
By the end of the novel it is difficult to completely understand Control's motivations. Like the Biologist in Annihilation he's been so manipulated by both Central and, perhaps, Area X itself that it's hard to understand why he is doing what he does. The strangeness of VanderMeer's surreal plotting might also be sloppy plot construction.Read more ›
In contrast with the weird expedition theme of volume 1, this one, focusing on the research and political machinations in the Southern Reach agency, reads more like an obsessive spy novel. It feels like Orwell and Kafka blended with a weird sauce.
Now this approach does slow things down, it is more a psychological cat and mouse game in a suffocating, nightmarish environment. Mind, it is still very good suspenseful reading yet I thought it could have been trimmed a bit.
Surprisingly, while the characters have names in this book, I found the protagonist less compelling than the biologist from volume 1.
The story, like detective or spy novels, will eventually lift a few of the deep layers of mystery, which is good - an imperfection of volume 1 was sometimes a sense of vagueness. Not everything needs to be explained of course (and I expect mysteries to remain at the end of the trilogy), yet I like that here the story is more crisp.
Of note, while for the large part a slower story, things really pick up spectacularly towards the end of the book, leaving us with a sense of impending apocalyptic doom.
The trilogy's movie rights have been picked up even before initial publication. I can see an adaptation working in the hands of a skillful director, but the slowly growing sense of malaise and dread, and the slow progress of discoveries would to my taste best be rendered as a high quality concise TV series - as it is a story that needs breathing space, an execution like for True Detective could do justice to these books.
These books are overhyped (or at least very well marketed).Read more ›
Authority has a fantastic beginning. We as readers know that the ill-fated expedition to Area X from the first book killed off most of its participants. The anthropologist was torn apart by the Crawler, the surveyor was shot by the biologist, the psychologist died from blood loss and the biologist herself fled north. And yet as Authority opens, the surveyor, anthropologist and biologist have all reemerged from Area X and have been brought in for questioning. There's a fundamental disconnect there that is fascinating and intriguing in a lot of ways.
However, VanderMeer loses the momentum and tremendous originality that permeated Annihilation as he pulls back the curtain on some of the mysteries of the Southern Reach. Without resorting to spoilers, Authority is a revelation of the shaky nature of the organization tasked with dispatching the expedition from the previous novel. I can't help but find some of the revelations disappointing and some of the information presented redundant from the first novel. The new lead character, who refers to himself as Control, has to take a long road just to come to terms with Area X in a way remotely comparable with the reader. His past is examined in the same way that the biologist's past was in Annihilation, but its not as interesting. I understand that VanderMeer has made a calculated decision to come at the mystery of Area X from a different angle, and I can at least respect him for that. I'm just exhausted from the red herrings.
Just like I said about Annihilation, Authority is nothing if not a page turner, especially in its second half.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really enjoyed this ongoing story.Reading the third book now.Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
These books were beyond frustrating. Nothing is resolved, the alternating viewpoints of the various characters in the various books, and the general sense (which I know the author... Read morePublished 21 days ago by KG
This is a fantastic and riveting trilogy and I would definitely recommend it!Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
While not as action-packed as the first book in the series Authority has some good twists and turns. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Alyssa
Honestly, I think anyone who made a drinking game out of how many times the author uses the word "banal" would have to have their stomach pumped by the 3rd chapter.Published 1 month ago by JKFraser
The second book in the trilogy starts with a twist--a shift of point of view. The books moves along at a fairly fast pace--again, you will have to stop and think at times to keep... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Jeff Vandermeer does it again with this second installment of Southern Reach trilogy. Carnality, complex characters and enigma is there for the reader to loose herself in it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Alephel