Authority: A Disappointment with a few scares thrown in.
Authorty by Jeff Vandermeere
Earlier this year I read a science fiction novel called Annihilation. I found the story was interesting throwback to older science fiction as the writing style was similar to that of Jules Verne and HG Wells. And I grew to appreciate the book as I realized that simplicity scifi tale was a unique book in the world of overly complicated and convoluted scifi books. So decided to see what else this author wrote and it turns out Annihilation is the first in a trilogy. Knowing that I decided to give the second book a read. So here is my view of Authority by Jeff Vandermeere.
So what is it about? It pick up not long after the first book. In the first book this alien bubble (Area x) covered part of the southern US coast. It was revealed that a new, ecosystem where rapid evolution existed. But this story takes place on the outside of the area at the government base known as the Southern Reach. The employees there know next to nothing about this Area X because the research expeditions have vanished without a trace or returned with scrambled memories. John Rodriguez is assigned as the new director of the Southern Reach and is assigned to find out what the previous director was up to, learn about Area X, and to report his findings to Central. As he works there he finds everything is just a little off. His assistant is trying to control things behind his back. He is interviewing a biologist who is acting stange after returning from Area X, trying to unravel the mystery of what’s in there. The person he reports to, known as the Voice, seems to have some side agenda. The scientists act erratically. And John himself begins to grow paranoid from all of this.Also on top this there is a side story that tied with his estranged mother which plays out as flashbacks throughout the story.
Now let’s get to the good and bad? Let’s start with the bad. The book is a disappointment. I am all for a sequel telling a story from another viewpoint. But reading about John work shedule and doing things such as paperwork did not excite me. His investigation was basically the plot meandering from one thing to another. The book is boring and as you’re about to put it down, it will show you something weird and tricks you into reading more and thinking it’s going somewhere. And ultimately this book really goes nowhere. The big thing that happens at the end feels so tacked on. Also the detail is lacking.
The good? The book is creepy when it wants to be creepy. It has this unsettling weird tone throughout. Also there is the bizarre scene where scientists are trying to effect the wall of Area X by shoving a ton or so of biological materia into it. They do this by shoving hundreds and hundreds of white rabbits into it. Its so weird and bizarre that it’s hard to get out of my head.
Overall, the way I fell about this book is the same way I feel about the film, The Babadook. Its a weird yet boring slow burn that keeps you hooked in the strangest way because when you're about to give up, it gives you the tiniest taste of something scary and exciting. Then at the end, you feel disappointment because you built something else much better in your head by that point from all of the teasing. This book makes so many promises to the reader and breaks them all. And it is a further disappointment because it is an embarrassment to the original. The book feels like the author was trapped in a contract to write a trilogy when he only had ideas for the first novel. So in this seemingly obligated sequel, he just rambled on about spooky stuff. This book was not offensively bad, but it was still a bad book. I don’t recommend it to anyone. It’s not worth the read.
1 smoothie out of four.
Overall Review: A Disappointment with a Few Scares Thrown in.