Villordsutch reviews Authority (Book 2 of The Southern Reach Trilogy) by Jeff VanderMeer…
In the second volume of the Southern Reach Trilogy, questions are answered, stakes are raised, and mysteries are deepened …
Following the disastrous twelfth expedition chronicled in ‘Annihilation’, the second book of the Southern Reach trilogy introduces John Rodriguez, the new head of the government agency responsible for the safeguarding of Area X. His first day is spent grappling with the fall-out from the last expedition. Area X itself remains a mystery. But, as instructed by a higher authority known only as The Voice, the self-styled Control must battle to ‘put his house in order’.
From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the mysteries of Area X begin to reveal themselves—and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he’s promised to serve.
Undermined and under pressure to make sense of everything, Rodriguez retreats into his past in a labyrinthine search for answers. Yet the more he uncovers, the more he risks, for the secrets of the Southern Reach are more sinister than anyone could have known.
After truly being in love with Part One of the Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation, I was rather pleased to see Part Two arrive on my door-step and be given the opportunity to review the continuation of the story. The story which burrowed itself within my head and made sure it was all I could think about when I was awake or as I slept; that, you’ll admit, sounds like I really shouldn’t be letting it get back into my head.
The rather huge change we’re delivered here in Authority is that we don’t actually set foot into Area X, the unknown zone which suddenly appeared in America in which nothing human can enter or leave except via one corridor. That was the setting and rather huge enigma that confused and held us and our Twelfth Expedition in its grip, drip feeding us information and fear whilst keeping its mystery so well shrouded as we needed to know what was Area X. Part One – Annihilation – really did so well in keeping the answer that bit that further away from you. Part Two though is set completely within the realms of Southern Reach and its borders – yes we read about experiments and videos taken from Area X, plus other additional Area X related oddities, but our confusion this time lies squarely in the building designed to figure out what Area X actual is. It’s here our protagonist and new Director of Southern Reach, John Rodriguez “Control”, meets the staff who are jaded, long in the tooth, insular and also in the process of their secretive working lives become rather paranoid and some observers may say… unhinged.
Whereas Annihilation could be read both quickly and smoothly the style of delivered with Authority isn’t as smooth and I almost felt I was sat with the character of Control as his disinformation and confusion – that was often dropped on his plate – was in-turn being given to me, as the book became so distracting on occasion. However, when the book found its running pace, it became extremely powerful and I would feel the room around me grow quiet as I read and I was back enjoying the Southern Reach Trilogy as it moved along at and amazing fearful speed.
Acceptance – Southern Reach Trilogy (Part 3) – is due for release at the beginning of September 2014 and I’m extremely interested to see how – or if – Jeff VanderMeer will be sealing off Area X for good and giving us an answer we deserve, or will he keep us dangling on a hook?
Villordsutch likes his sci-fi and looks like a tubby Viking according to his children. Visit hiswebsite and follow him on Twitter.