The first in a trilogy I am eager to read more of, Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy begins boldly with ANNIHILATION.
I still have yet to see the film version, yet have read nothing but stellar reviews. One thing I can piece together is that Alex Garland's film seems to have much more action and potentially a different ending. Not a bad thing, as this novel is very introspective and haunting. What I found most original about the novel is the fact that none of the lead characters use their proper names, just their titles. For instance, the narrator is 'the biologist'.
There could be a number of reasons for this. Perhaps the coolest and most chilling is that the current characters are members of the 12th team about to go on the expedition into the unknown and alien territory that has settled on our planet that is referred to merely as 'the shimmer'. The previous expedition, those who survived, all came back very 'different' and were dead within in weeks of returning. In fact, there is only one living member of any prior expedition this being the biologist's husband. Being a sci-fi geek and astute reader, I knew that the husband might not really be the same person who left for the eleventh expedition.
Whatever is going on in the portal world the shimmer --- breached only by the appropriately named Tower --- is something out of either a Kubrick film or H.P. Lovecraft story. The fact that nothing much is explained in the novel makes it that much more intriguing to dive into the rest of the trilogy. This is smart sci-fi at its finest with deeply layered characters, rich atmosphere and enough scientific mystery to keep the pages turning in sheer wonderment.