BOOK REVIEW: AUTHORITY


TITLE: AUTHORITY        AUTHOR: Jeff Vandermeer    BLURB:

After thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X―a seemingly malevolent landscape surrounded by an invisible border and mysteriously wiped clean of all signs of civilisation―has been a series of expeditions overseen by a government agency so secret it has almost been forgotten: the Southern Reach. Following the tumultuous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the agency is in complete disarray.

John Rodrigues (aka “Control”) is the Southern Reach’s newly appointed head. Working with a distrustful but desperate team, a series of frustrating interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, Control begins to penetrate the secrets of Area X. But with each discovery he must confront disturbing truths about himself and the agency he’s pledged to serve.

In Authority, the New York Times bestselling second volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy, Area X’s most disturbing questions are answered . . . but the answers are far from reassuring.

To be fair to Authority, book two in the Area X trilogy, I haven’t read book one Annihilation. I saw the Netflix movie and despite some very mixed reviews I really enjoyed the disjointed nature of the story and the amazing special effect images. Given the fact there’s unlikely to be a sequel to the movie I decided to check out the novels.

I didn’t enjoy reading this book and for all sorts of reasons. I found the very same disjointed nature of the story that I enjoyed in the movie off-putting in the novel. The main character – the POV is first person – was about as irritating as I’ve come across in some time and elicited little in the way of sympathy or empathy, in fact apathy was the main emotion I invested in him. The small “cast” of characters weren’t distinctive enough to grab your attention and once again they seemed to come from Central Casting and only served to populate the story rather than generate any sense of real people in an unreal situation.

Authority , for me, was a spy novel that got lost and found itself on the SciFi shelf. From my perspective that was a major drawback. My interest in the movie was the concept of Area X and in reality the sequel novel demoted that to simply the background to agency intrigue.

Ironically the final chapter reawakened my interest in the potential of this series and I may in fact read the third novel, Acceptance, just to see if the series suffers from second instalment confusion as some trilogies do.

What I Did Like:  Not much I’m afraid.
What I Didn’t Like: The John Le Carre approach to what could have been a really good sci-fi concept.

 

 

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