Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer.
The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.
Trigger & Content Warnings:
- Intimate partner violence recounted
- Suicide & attempted suicide discussed
- Alcohol consumption
- Blood & gore depiction, including physical injuries
- Dead bodies
- Terminal cancer recounted
- Hospital mentioned
- Death of a husband recounted
- Gun violence
- Mind control & loss of autonomy (theme)
- Animal attack