It is winter in Area X, the mysterious wilderness that has defied explanation for thirty years, rebuffing expedition after expedition, refusing to reveal its secrets. As Area X expands, the agency tasked with investigating and overseeing it--the Southern Reach--has collapsed on itself in confusion. Now one last, desperate team crosses the border, determined to reach a remote island that may hold the answers they've been seeking. If they fail, the outer world is in peril.
Meanwhile, Acceptance tunnels ever deeper into the circumstances surrounding the creation of Area X--what initiated this unnatural upheaval? Among the many who have tried, who has gotten close to understanding Area X--and who may have been corrupted by it?
In this last installment of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, the mysteries of Area X may be solved, but their consequences and implications are no less profound--or terrifying.
The concluding volume of VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy (after Annihilation and Authority) brings each of the series's narrative threads together for an enigmatic but satisfying conclusion. In Annihilation, a single survivor from one of exploratory expeditions to Area X discusses her experiences, a portion of the southern U.S. that has become inexplicably isolated from the rest of the world and from which few visitors return. Authority, the second volume, is a conspiratorial tale about the highly secretive Southern Reach, the organization that, in theory, is attempting to uncover the secrets of the Zone. The story is related by its newly appointed director, Control, who, like many of the characters in the earlier books, reappears in Acceptance. Others about whom we have heard earlier also pop up, including Saul Evans, the lighthouse keeper, who was one of the first to experience the Zone. The third book begins with another expedition as a team reenters Area X in search of a lost member. In many ways, this is the most mysterious and puzzling book of the three: VanderMeer employs multiple flashbacks and POVs, which contribute to a multifaceted, mutating portrait of Area X. The pacing of the narrative is slower, but the reader will want to move slowly so as not to miss any of the more subtle occurrences or psychological insights. By the time the book is finished, the reader knows that this trilogy is that rare thing a set in which the whole is as great as the parts.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Unsettling Conclusion of The Southern Reach
The final volume of the Southern Reach Trilogy is quite far reaching. We are treated to point of view flashbacks from many of the major characters that featured prominently in the first two books. The narrative is very personal, and tells us a lot about how events unfolded. However, if you are looking for tidy explanations for everything about Area X, you will be disappointed. There are many answers, but not all of them are complete, or satisfying. Like our characters, you will simply have to practice "Acceptance" and realize that not everything that is so alien can be understood by humans.
A spectacular end
Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer is the final book in The Southern Reach Trilogy, and it's a perfect closing curtain.
Acceptance brings back the intensely ominous feeling introduced in Annihilation, the series' first book, but on a much grander scale. Much of the story takes place in flashbacks, we're taken back to the events that took place before Annihilation, to everything that led up to the disastrous Twelfth Expedition into Area X and the subsequent shifting within the Southern Reach. We also go back to a little place called the Forgotten Coast, a place where misfits, outcasts gathered to make a home. A quaint costal village complete with a lighthouse and its gruff, but kind keeper. A rustic place, but a good place, a nice place to live until something turned it into a nightmare, a biological disaster; Area X. In this final book, by way of glimpses into life on the Forgotten Coast, we see the horrific creation of Area X.
Acceptance begins with the death of a character, a death that occurs toward the end of Annihilation. We learn about her life through flashbacks, yet we also know that she is damned. We know that the Forgotten Coast is damned, that the people we learn about, grow to care about, will be lost. The horror of the book, and really, the trilogy as a whole, is witnessing this slow fall and knowing that no matter what, it won't be stopped. Though, we get to see points at which maybe if different decisions were made, Area X might not have been made. Knowing that so much loss wasn't inevitable, that it could have possibly been avoided, makes the loss that much more painful. We keep reading because we want to know the whats and the whys that birthed Area X, but also, there's still the right now, the world after the creation of Area X. That part of the story is completely uncertain, it's ultimately why I kept turning pages until a late night became an early morning. I wanted to know if our world would survive, or if Area X would envelope everything. I know, but I won't say. I don't want to say more, I don't want to make reading Acceptance pointless while trying to convey why it's so spectacular.
The Southern Reach Trilogy is a masterpiece, it is brilliantly conceived and written. Acceptance is what seals the deal, it's a truly remarkable end to a beautiful, sad, scary as all Hell work of fiction.
What is this?
Things this book lacks. A cohesive sentence. Characters with relatable emotional responses. Proper description or explanation.
I get it. Super zany crazy wow alien world can’t be properly described. Or. The author isn’t very good so hoped to hide that fact by pitching out random adjectives from a thesaurus and kept at it for 500 pages.
This book is bad. It just tries to mask it with vague and confusing language.