the Little Red Reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Southern Reach

Acceptance (Southern Reach #3) by Jeff Vandermeer

published in 2014

where I got it: purchased new




The Southern Reach series came out in 2014, and I didn’t even need to wait for the series to be completed as all three books were published in the same calendar year.  So what the hell took me so long to finish reading it? None of these books are very long, and I wouldn’t describe any of them as difficult reads. So what gives?   A couple of things.


  • I didn’t want the series to be over
  • After reading the 2nd book in the series, Authority, I was a little intimidated to continue. Ok, A lot intimidated, because I really struggled with Authority.  (Which has led to me being a little intimidated to read Vandermeer’s newest book, Borne, which yes, I know is completely silly.)


Why did Authority intimidate me? I talked a good talk when I reviewed that book, but I struggled to read it and I had no idea what was going on.  Jeez, now I know how Control felt.  He’s been hired to do a job, and walks into this Kafka-esque tapestry of the WTFery that he’s supposed to summarize in reports to his superiors.  He can’t look like a fool to his employers, of course. Even worse, this is a government research agency.  If this is anything like actual R & D, the paychecks stop if you don’t produce results. Any kind of results. As an employee of the South Reach agency you’ve got to justify your existence, right?


So anyway, the mistake that I made was reading Authority as a standalone.  What finally worked for me was to binge read all three books, literally picking up the next book 10 minutes after finishing the previous one.  Authority and Acceptance worked very well when I read them as one longer novel.  I highly suggest reading these 3 books as one long novel to anyone who is interested in this series.


After all of that rambling, let’s talk about Acceptance, yes?  Sure.  But there are going to be spoilers for the entire series from this point forward.  And more rambling.

Read the rest of this entry »


The three volumes of Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy are strewn about my house, like a path of breadcrumbs. Annihilation, the shortest of the three, sits on the coffee table in the living room, positioned in such a way that if you sit on the smushy sofa, you can easily pick it up. There is a still a ring on the coffee table where my coffee mug sat this morning, dark liquid cooling as I slowly read the last few pages of the book. Everyone talks about the tower, the crawler, the border, the colonization. I do too, as those are the physical stars of the book, the things everyone talks about, the things you can point a finger at and be relatively sure that you experienced them in a similar fashion as others. For me, the star of this show is the Biologist. How her relationship with society is the same as her relationship with her tide pools and environs – to observe but not to interfere. That she doesn’t really care what other people do. She is aggressively self sufficient. That she and her husband loved each other, but that their struggles to understand each and meet each other half way was damaging to their relationship. His extrovertedness versus her introverted self sufficiency. Through the lens of his gregariousness, he saw her as walled off and uninterested in sharing her inner self. His experience in Area X allowed him to gain a deeper understanding of her, and she of him. I like that she found something that she was looking for. And maybe her husband did too. The entire story is tense but comforting at the same time. It’s like a giant tide pool or terrarium, where every rock you turn over shows you more you don’t know, which is why you came to explore in the first place. To realize how much you don’t know.

Authority sits on the kitchen table, where I was reading it over coffee this morning. I’ve read this novel before, and I’m only a few pages into it now. What a different feel from Annihilation! The first novel is soft moss, swaying ferns, chirping birds, clouds that come and go in the breeze. Like the biologist, I wonder why everyone is so afraid of what happens in Annihilation. Authority, on the other hand, feels all sharp angles, florescent lights, clicky shoes clattering on metal staircases, knowing everyone is biting their nails. There is plenty of the unknown here too, but no quiet contemplation, no comfort. The tenseness feels like staring at a phone, willing it to ring, but not wanting it to ring. Authority feels like Finch, like you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop. From what I recall from my first read, Ghost Bird makes an appearance. Maybe her calmness will comfort me, maybe not.

Acceptance sits on the other end of the kitchen table, opened, but unread. What a terrible fan I am, that I have not yet read Acceptance! I think it because I am not ready, mentally, for this story to end. I do not want Area X to cease being. I want to continue to pick up rocks, turn over starfish, find new tadpoles and thistles. I want there to always be things I don’t know. The idea that every question answered means I have ten more questions is comforting to me, not annoying or frustrating.

It sure is nice to have all three books here, that I can just binge read them right through. The weather is perfect for reading outside.

We opened that bottle of champagne last week. After an anxiety filled three months of unemployment, I am scheduled to start a new full time job next week. It’s been eight years since I had a traditional office job, it’ll be nice to have an office gig again. I’m even looking forward to dealing with rush hour traffic.

It’s time to read Acceptance.  Let’s see where the breadcrumb path leads.


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.