Did it. I finished Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy: Annihilation, Authority, and now Acceptance. I gotta say, the whole series started with a bang and then really fizzled out a bit toward the end. The culprit: Vandermeer’s decision to move away from the biologist. I mean, he had to if he wanted to keep telling the story of Area X and the Southern Reach. But, man, the series suffers for it. He found this beautiful and weird and entrancing voice in the biologist, and, without her, the rest of the series became what was left over: byzantine paranoia couched in a shitty boss/workplace story.
This book, the final entry in the series, is really there just to tie up loose ends: we learn a little about how Area X “started,” how the government agency (the Southern Reach) was tasked with investigating it and how they ultimately failed, what happened to the psychologist in the first book, what happened to the replacement agency director in the second book, etc etc etc. We never learn exactly what Area X is and how it happened (where alien or man-made), and that’s fine with me. But all that coloring around the edges fell away immediately when the biologist makes a return appearance halfway through Acceptance in the forms of more journal entries and then a visitation. These short sections just blew up the book and made me pine so hard for the magic I felt reading the first book.
So I’m still reading books. I’ve still got TNC’s latest book, Mickey Spillane‘s first three novels, Mike Duncan’s The Storm Before The Storm, Debra Hamel’s The Battle of Arginusae, and Robert Garland’s Athens Burning. However, what I actually started on the day after finishing Acceptance was Theodore Ziolkowski’s Cults and Conspiracies: A Literary History. Gotta know the history of what I’m writing about!