With a curiosity that has been growing exponentially since the release of the first trailer for the upcoming adaptation of Annihilation, I finally relented and read the book, searching for any answers as to what the Hell is going on in this beautiful yet dangerous enigma of a biodome. I needed answers! Unfortunately, Jeff VanderMeer had none to give.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a good mystery. As Zac likes to say, “there are no answers in life,” so why should art be any different? Personally that just sounds like he’s not resourceful enough, but I’ll give him this one since not EVERYTHING has a nicely wrapped explanation that’ll put everything right on its axis. I may not like it, but unfortunately that’s all we get sometimes. That said, when it comes to a work of fiction where the author is making the rules up as he goes, giving us one or two truths to cling to when everything else seems open to doubt filled interpretations is the least he can do. That is, if he wants to leave the reader with anything other than a steaming pile of frustration.
What I can tell you is this: at some point our narrator existed, and she kept a journal of her observations while exploring Area X; a journal that we are now reading. Past that everything is debatable as it is being communicated to us by a narrator that admits to withholding certain details so that our early opinions would not be negatively influenced. And these are just the lies that she is aware of. In addition to these omissions, there’s also the outside influences of the Southern Reach and what they were willing to reveal to their participants, hypnosis and mind altering environmental factors, and good ol’ paranoia. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if not one thing in this book was 100% true. Or as our narrator puts it: “it isn’t true…but it could be true.”
Which is just garbage.
Seriously, VanderMeer is like a childhood Yoda playing the “I’m not touching you” game, purposefully messing with the reader and knowingly responding to our exasperated sighs with lines like: “some questions will ruin you if you are denied the answers long enough.” Well, VanderMeer, my patience lies in ruin. Do you even know what’s happening in your own book? Because I’m seriously starting to doubt it.
That said, the back cover to Annihilation‘s sequel does promise answers, so of course I’m going to read it… Darn it, VanderMeer…