I’ve been thinking for a while about recommending more books but I’d covered my favourite themes in my ‘A Novel Round-Ups’ such as horror, zombies, and lesser-known classics. So I got to thinking and realised whenever I’ve finished a really good book, I quite often crave to read another one with similarities. This led me to ‘If You Liked That, You’ll Love This’. One obvious example would be ‘if you liked Harry Potter, you’ll love Percy Jackson’. Male teenage protagonists, a type of magic, sidekicks in the form of a funny boy and an intelligent girl; the comparisons are obvious. So, without further ado, this week’s ‘If You Liked That, You’ll Love This’ is…
If you liked The Passage Trilogy or the Silo Saga, you’ll love The Southern Reach Trilogy
I read the whole of The Southern Reach Trilogy in a week last December. I couldn’t put it down. It was the bright pink cover of the first novel, Annihilation, that had caught my eye in Waterstones, and the blurb only heightened my need to dive into this series:
For thirty years, Area X, monitored by the secret agency known as the Southern Reach, has remained mysterious and remote behind its intangible border– an environmental disaster zone, though to all appearances an abundant wilderness. Eleven expeditions have been sent in to investigate; even for those that have made it out alive, there have been terrible consequences.
‘Annihilation’ is the story of the twelfth expedition and is told by its nameless biologist. Introverted but highly intelligent, the biologist brings her own secrets with her. She is accompanied by a psychologist, an anthropologist and a surveyor, their stated mission: to chart the land, take samples and expand the Southern Reach’s understanding of Area X.
But they soon find out that they are being manipulated by forces both strange and all too familiar. An unmapped tunnel is not as it first appears. An inexplicable moaning calls in the distance at dusk. And while each member of the expedition has surrendered to the authority of the Southern Reach, the power of Area X is far more difficult to resist.
You get the gist of the series. A section of wilderness characterised by strange happenings that the government has been unable to comprehend. Numerous expeditions that have ended in death and disaster. And an anonymous, headstrong, captivating narrator known only as ‘the biologist’.
This series is unsettling, weird (in a good way) and beautifully written. I don’t want to ruin the plot too much, but it has the creepiness and the horror of The Passage Trilogy, and the science and sense of isolationism that can be found in the Silo Saga. I loved every minute of this series and a part of me wishes I hadn’t read it so fast, but it’s a truly unique trilogy, despite the comparisons I’ve made! VanderMeer is an excellent writer and I loved his characters, especially the biologist and John Rodriguez, the latter appearing in the second novel. The twists and turns of Area X aren’t easily guessed and there’s a sense that Area X itself doesn’t want us to know just what it is. This isn’t a series for the fainthearted.
Have you read The Southern Reach Trilogy? Do you agree with my comparisons? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below!