Read Authority by Jeff VanderMeer Online


The much anticipated second instalment in VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogyIn Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer introduced the mysteries of Area X-a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. It was the first volume of a projected trilogy; well in advance of publication, translation rights had sold all around the world, and a major movie deal had beeThe much anticipated second instalment in VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogyIn Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer introduced the mysteries of Area X-a remote and lush terrain mysteriously sequestered from civilization. It was the first volume of a projected trilogy; well in advance of publication, translation rights had sold all around the world, and a major movie deal had been struck. Just months later, the second volume is here.For thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X has taken the form of a series of expeditions monitored by a secret agency called the Southern Reach. After the disastrous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the Southern Reach is in disarray, and John Rodriguez (a.k.a. "Control") is the team's newly appointed head. From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the secrets 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. And the consequences will reach much farther than that.The Southern Reach trilogy will conclude in fall 2014 with Acceptance....

Title : Authority
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781443428415
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 340 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Authority Reviews

  • Richard
    2019-05-06 10:54

    I can't give this more than 2 stars because the center of the book drags along like a sacked brick. I tried and tried to get into it, but I couldn't remain interested.It just doesn't need 200 pages to get across the idea of the Southern Reach. Relationships barely develop past the first meetings and the whole thing feels stuck. I guess this mirrors the feelings the main characters are supposed to be experiencing in the least fun way possible.None of the little mysteries really go anywhere exciting, and the good stuff that happens is pretty random and not driven at all by the events that precede it. The main event near the end of the book could have just happened on page 50 and spared us the main part of the book.Maybe I'm being harsh! There is another book on its way after all. It could all slot together and be a satisfying adventure story - but my interest is pretty dented.Annihilation, was a fun, really short, little mystery that flew along. This book is work, and you don't get much in return. (yet?)

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2019-05-15 07:44

    ”In the black water with the sun shining at midnight, those fruit shall come ripe and in the darkness of that which is golden shall split open to reveal the revelation of the fatal softness in the earth.”John A.K.A. Control has been made director of The Southern Reach Facility. The last director finagled her way onto the last expedition into Area X and has never been seen or heard from again. The assistant director doesn’t only dislike him, but is working actively to undermine him. I’ve been in a similar circumstances before with a job. It is time consuming winning everybody over so that the work environment can settle into a new normal. As it turns out Control doesn’t have months to convince anyone of anything. There is something wrong with the smells like rotting honey. Some of “the twelfth” expedition which were all women have returned, remembering next to nothing, scattered thoughts. Soon he is focused on The Biologist, the main character from Annihilation, whose answers are not...quite...right. There is blue sky in the amnesia that makes Control suspicious that she remembers more than she is letting on. ”They were beginning to exist in some transitional space between interrogation and conversation, something for which he could not quite find a name.”She is bemused by him. He discovers notes by the original director about The Biologist that he hopes will offer some clarification, but they only create more questions. ”Not a very good biologist. In a traditional sense. Empathic more toward environments than people. Forgets the reasons she went, who is paying her salary. But becomes embedded to an extraordinary extent. Would know Area X better than I do from almost the first moment sets foot there. Experience with similar settings. Self-sufficient. Unburdened. Connection through her husband. What would she be in Area X? A signal? A flare? Or invisible? Exploit.Control has been resurrected from what should have been a career ending disastrous string of decisions on his last assigning. The type of judgment calls that haunts your career for the rest of your life. His mother, Severance, currently works for Central in some nebulous position deemed Classified. His grandfather also used to work for Central as well and filled Control’s head with all kinds of platitudes. ”So long as you don’t tell people you don’t know something, they’ll probably think you know it.”Gramps didn’t pass along anything original, but as his situation becomes more and more tenuous Control finds his grandfather’s voice in his head very reassuring. ”Is your house in order?” the Voice asked. “Is it in order?”That voice is not grandfather, but his contact at Central. The entity that is supposed to be running interference for him at Central and buy him time to work his way through this puzzle. But why does he always feel so damn funny after talking to him? Then there is the plant in his desk drawer; the plant that won’t die. It is obviously from Area X. Somebody gave it a dead mouse to eat. Rabbits will do what rabbits do best, but what will Rabbits do best in Area X?And then there is Whitby talking about the terror, the terroir. The French word meaning the set of special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place possess and how it is interacting with plant genetics.Area X=TERROIR!Why don’t we agitate it? Make it do something. Will it bring him ”closer to the truth about Area X, and even if the truth was a fucking maw, a fanged maw that stank like a cave full of putrefying corpses, that was still closer than he was now.”Control is opening that door that defies the first rule of every horror film…DON’T OPEN THE DOOR.Control would have been so much more focused if he’d had Dana Scully licking his face.This was such a surprise after reading book one. I was expecting to be up to my armpits in malicious people eating foliage, attempting to keep my brain from going completely Gonzo, and hopefully finding answers to some lingering questions about Area X. Jeff Vandermeer switches gears on us and puts us in the middle of an X-File with a Fox Mulder without the steadying influence of a Dana Scully. The suspense builds beautifully with many moments of...that was odd...until finally it reaches a crescendo with Control on the run not only from Area X, but also from the people at Central. And now I MUST read Acceptance.ANNIHILATION review Book one of the Southern Reach TrilogyIf you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visithttp://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:

  • Carol.
    2019-05-10 09:06

    If Annihilation reminded me of Jeanette Winterson’s writing, then Authority reminded me of Kafka, but not the interesting Kafka, one of the boring ones, which surely if I say which one, my dear friends are going to quickly assure me that I’m quite wrong and there is no way Kafka could ever be boring with such Big Ideas. So maybe I don’t mean Kafka. Maybe I mean one of those other stodgy old writers from Advanced English who was clearly writing about the Human Condition in Big Fat Metaphors. Maybe Moby Dick. Is it safe to call Moby Dick boring? It also reminded me a little of Joseph Heller, in Something Happened, when, of course, nothing does happen. Or Waiting for Godot, only more like Waiting for Area X. Or maybe I’m thinking of that movie Brazil, which is what I always think of when I think of big, boring films about Meaning of Corporations. Which is probably not what Brazil is even about, but you’ll never get me to watch it again, so it doesn’t matter. In my mind, it’s always about a faceless bureaucracy. Anyway, just think of some story from your memory of something that was well-done, full of Deep Meaning about the Human Condition, with a confused narrator, a whole lot of navel-gazing about Ineffectual Man, and you’ll about have it.Authority is clearly the next side to the prism that composes the Southern Reach Trilogy, but this installment is focused a new character, government official John Rodriguez. He’s been transferred in as replacement of the missing Director of the Southern Reach. In keeping with the tradition of roles superseding names, John adopts a childhood moniker ‘Control.’ His arrival occurs shortly after the Biologist and her team have returned to the Reach (!) sans memories and missing the psychologist. As Control seeks to puzzle out the mystery of the Biologist and the Reach, he also faces inter-agency status conflicts, with antagonism from the Voice above as well as from below, in the form of Assistant Director Grace:“But Control preferred to think of her as neither patience nor grace. He preferred to think of her as an abstraction if not an obstruction. She had made him sit through an old orientation video about Area X, must have known it would be basic and out of date. She had already made clear that theirs would be a relationship based on animosity. From her side, at least.“Maybe the transfer is a plot to get rid of him. Maybe its a plot his mother has to advance his career. Maybe it’s just the only job available to a man who compromised his cases. It is hard for both the reader and Control to tell, and honestly, I don’t know that I cared. He’s not an anti-hero, just an everyday bureaucrat trying to do the best he can and survive complex corporate politics. And complex family politics. ‘Control’ is clearly an irony for a man who has none.We experience the rotting-honey smell of the Reach (!) through the new eyes of Control, as he almost but-not-quite bonds with both the Biologist held in isolation and the ghost of the former Director (I’m not spoiling anything; I’m not being literal here, people. I think). If I enjoyed Craig Johnson‘s show-don’t tell mysteries, this is pretty much the opposite; not a lot happens except in Control’s head, with a few bizarre incidents spurring him onward.But the writing! I love the writing, so vivid and clever and allegorical, except that almost every little bit is vivid and clever and allegorical so it really does need a bit of a driver to engage my emotions:“Before he’d arrived, Control had imagined himself flying free above the Southern Reach, swooping down from some remote perch to manage things. That wasn’t going to happen. Already his wings were burning up and he felt more like some ponderous moaning creature trapped in the mire.“Remember the swamp creature from Annihilation? Of course you do! What does it mean? Is Area X is the Reach, and the Reach is Area X? Maybe. I don’t know, and am not entirely sure I care. Enough navel-gazing, Control.Much like Zone One, Colin Whitehead’s brush with zombie Metaphorical Fiction, this book missing the five star despite truly excellent writing, purely out of personal taste and enjoyment. Well written, well-crafted, I read it because I’d like to see Vandermeer’s gestalt, as well as know more about Area X. Onward!Really, more a three-and-half star book, but no option for that here.Review forevermore posted at where it can't be deleted for being off-topic

  • Carmen
    2019-05-11 07:04

    SPOILER-FREE REVIEW"Imagine a situation, John, in which you are trying to contain something dangerous. But you suspect that containment is a losing game. That what you want to contain is escaping slowly, inexorably. That what seems impermeable is, in fact, over time, becoming very permeable. That the divide is more perforated than unperforated. And that whatever this thing is seems to want to destroy you but has no leader to negotiate with, no stated goals of any kind."Control, also known by his birth name: John Rodríguez, is CIA. The CIA have been concerned lately about what is going on at the Southern Reach, a special branch of government dedicated to investigating Area X, the mysterious and deadly portion of the United States that is surrounded by a shimmering, intangible border. Anything and anyone that passes that border is never seen again. They disappear, kill themselves, kill each other - or return. Return as empty husks of the people they once were: with no memories, no personalities, and no hope of a future.After 30 years of trying to figure out what Area X is, what caused it, why it exists, how it exists - the government still has no answers. And there is blood on their hands. After the 1,500 people were killed when "the border" around Area X suddenly appeared three decades ago, the government has insisted on sending in expedition after expedition of scientists and experts into the festering, unknown vastness - the pristine, uncontaminated wilderness that seems to be slowly expanding - that exists beyond "the border," with disastrous results. Quite often, everyone dies. And on the rare occasions someone comes back, death seems like a merciful option.Called in by not only his job with the CIA, but by his powerhouse agent of a mother, Control is plunged into the fetid, putrid recesses of the Southern Reach.And what he finds there is horrifying....Things I Can Tell You Without Spoiling Anything:1.) This is a strong horror entry. It could also be classified as science-fiction, but it is leaning heavily toward horror. Expect creepiness and growing horror.He had been standing there recognizing that there was a draft in the loft. He had been standing there without realizing that it wasn't a draft.Someone was breathing, behind him.Someone was breathing on his neck. The knowledge froze him, froze the cry of "Jesus fuck!" in his throat.He turned with incredible slowness...2.) You MUST read Annihilation first. This is a sequel to Annihilation and NOT a stand-alone. This WILL NOT make any sense or pack the kind of sickening realization you are seeking if you do not read Annihilation first.3.) Annihilation is a stronger and better novel than Authority. And, as an added bonus, Annihilation can stand on its own two feet. You can read Annihilation, be severely creeped out by it, let it rock you to your core, and then leave. There's no need to continue on in the rest of the trilogy if you don't want to. You can leave it there. It is a perfectly self-contained and wonderful novel on its own. Authority is NOT. You cannot read and enjoy Authority without having first read Annihilation. The book will not make sense to you.Whereas Annihilation is primal, feral, taking place in the festering swamplands and filled with terrifying beasts that remain just out of your line of vision - Authority relies on the horror of this kind of merciless and relentless wilderness slowly creeping into an urban environment. It's very different. I like the small-scale, humid, murky, desperately insane feel of Annihilation better than the feel of an insidious force of plants, creatures, and mental breakdown invading an urban setting that is created in Authority. Both books are excellent - it's just a personal preference here.4.) This book has humor. It is actually funny at points. I laughed out loud more than once. This was shocking to me. It was shocking because there is almost no humor at all in Annihilation. None. Which doesn't make Annihilation any less good - it's a horror/sci-fi after all (humor not necessarily needed). But I was surprised VanderMeer chose to include so much humor in this sequel. And it's funny. It's not as if VanderMeer is attempting to be funny - he actually is funny. Very surprising and refreshing.Grace was joining him at his request, to assist him in staring out at the swamp while they talked about Area X. Because he'd thought a change of setting - leaving the confines of the concrete coffin - might help soften her animosity. Before he realized just how truly hellish and prehistoric the landscape was, and thus now pre-hysterical as well. Look out upon this mosquito orgy, and warm to me, Grace.5.) Great, amazing, thorough character study of Control. Control is a fully-formed person. The reader gets to know him intimately. Every facet of him. It was astonishing. He's an asshole, but he's vulnerable. He's compassionate but he's ruthless. He's a CIA agent who is brutal - but also an empathetic person who feels more than a weapon of the government should. His family life, his romantic life, his strengths, his weaknesses - it's AMAZING to me how much and how well VanderMeer crafted this character seeing as the book was also crafting and describing a horrific situation as well. It is brilliant. Rarely do I feel so familiar with a character as I did with Control.6.) Great depiction of a realistic, fully realized Latino character. Control is Latino, but not: "Oh, this character is latino, look at his latino-ness, oh, message, blah blah blah." But neither does VanderMeer ignore or negate the realities of living as a Latino in the U.S.A. A perfect balance, in my opinion.7.) Great vocabulary. I even had to look up two or three words and I am VERY well-read. Excellent - I love when books challenge me like this.8.) VanderMeer is really a beautiful writer, in a way that escapes you at first glance. Of course, if you've already read Annihilation, you will have no doubt as to what I'm talking about in this regard. It might take a while to see the beauty in his writing, but after a while it is undeniable. That doesn't go away in Authority, although I do think Annihilation was more beautifully written.9.) The paperback English version of this book is a thing of wonder. The front cover, inside covers, and title page are magnificent. I want to own a copy of this book. (All three in the trilogy make a gorgeous set.)...In summary, I can't talk about the plot too much without giving it all away. From my rating you can tell that I loved this book. I read it twice in 3 days. Don't read it if you haven't read Annihilation first.

  • Stuart
    2019-05-05 11:43

    Holy crap, this book was unbearable! I'm trying to think of something good to say about this book...and failing. It reminds me of an unholy blend of the final season of Lost, The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, The Office, and Waiting for Godot. Endless trivial descriptions of bureaucracy, oblique dead-end details, and an obstinate refusal to further the plot in any way, other than with fruitless clues. It seems that fans of Annihilation were enthralled by the ominous Lovcraftian horror of Area X and the unreliable narrator, but the real horror is the unreliable author who writes well and teases with no intention of delivering the goods. I am a prodigious reader of SF&F, but I am not a fan of ambiguity or metaphor. I want a novel with compelling characters, fascinating world-building, and a propulsive storyline that makes we want to know more, but whatever Jeff VanderMeer was aiming for, it went straight over my head. This book smacks of Serious Literature Filled with Deep Meaning that Average Joes cannot possibly grasp. As I read for entertainment and to stimulate my imagination, I cannot go another step. I was hoping this book would provide some illumination of the events of Annihilation, but after getting to the 50% mark without the slightest clue, I cannot justify wasting any more precious reading time. People often say, just hang in there and the book will pay off at the end, but I would counter, why can't a story be interesting and exciting from the get-go? Is that too much to ask? Having read fairly widely, I'm pretty certain of what I will like or not, and this series is about as far from my tastes as I've encountered in a long time. My apologies to all the GR readers who loved this book, I respect your opinions and tastes and I hope you won't think less of me, but why torture myself anymore? I'm moving onto something else.

  • Heidi The Hippie Reader
    2019-05-01 12:00

    The mystery of Area X continues with an FBI agent's entry into the Southern Reach. What's going on? Why can't anybody remember anything? Why is everyone so antagonistic? And why does everything smell bad? Rarely have I been so disappointed with a book as I was with Authority. The first entry in this series is a gripping, psychedelic adventure that reads like a nature-gone-wild acid trip. This book, on the other hand, is like going to work with a punishing hangover. You don't know what's going on and everybody is pushing piles of paper at you."A shadow had passed over the director's desk then. He'd been here before, or somewhere close, making these kinds of decisions before, and it had almost broken him, or broken through him. But he had no choice." pg 18. On and on it goes. No answers, only confusion and bewilderment. I honestly thought, up until the very end, that something mega-cool was going to happen to make up for all of the so-so stuff that had happened so far. Unfortunately...I also got super excited anytime Area X was mentioned, sort of like passing an old fling on your way to a funeral. Take this passage: "But the truth did have a simple quality to it: About thirty-two years ago, along a remote southern stretch known by some as the "forgotten coast," an Event had occurred that began to transform the landscape and simultaneously caused an invisible border or wall to appear." pg 35. Yes! And then we were immediately back into the boring office work/politics stuff."You've heard of the Southern Reach?" He had, mostly through a couple of colleagues who had worked there at one time. Vague allusions, keeping to the cover story about environmental catastrophe. Rumors of a chain of command that was eccentric at best. Rumors of a significant variation, of there being more to the story. But, then, there always was. He didn't know, on hearing his mother say those words, whether he was excited or not." pg 71. And that, my friends, is pretty much the whole book. Let me save you another 250 or so pages.I exaggerate. A bit. It's just that I'm incredibly disappointed in the turn this story took. I suppose I'll read the last one in this series because I'm a completionist, but that is the only reason.

  • Hannah
    2019-04-23 08:55

    My thoughts on this are, you guessed it, complicated. This follow-up to Annhililation (which I LOVED.) is a very different beast. Set shortly after the events of the first book, it is completely different in feeling and in genre. It does not take place in Area X but rather in the Southern Reach itself where a new director has been placed who will have to try and figure out what is really going on.There is one thing I am absolutely sure of: Jeff VanderMeer is a genius. He has a way of writing that I find exciting and fresh and original and super brilliant. I adore the way he writes weird books where the weirdness is always grounded in what we know of the world he creates. The world he created here is unsettling and just on the edge of ours; close enough to upset, far away enough to intrigue.But there were lenghty parts of this book that I was bored to near tears. It felt much longer than it is and reading it often felt like a chore. I have a sneaking suspicion though: maybe that was the point; maybe I was supposed to be bored; maybe this was supposed to drag. Of course, I can never know for sure if that is the case – but then I don’t think an author’s intent is all that important when compared to what the reader gets out of it. This boredom feels intentional – it fits into the themes of bureaucracy and lack of autonomy. It is in direct contrast to what we know of Area X: which is untamed and unblemished by humanity – this feeling is mirrored in the sprawling, unfocussed, fascinating narrative voice of the first book. But this book is set outside of Area X, in the organization that is trying to contain whatever is happening; and doing this in an increasingly rigid way.So yes, I do not even know what I make of this book. Again, Jeff VanderMeer keeps me at arm’s length from the characters – who do not know who they are themselves (or if they are themselves even), but impresses me with his vivid language.First sentence: “In Control’s dream it is early morning, the sky deep blue with just a twinge of light.”

  • Richard Derus
    2019-05-11 05:49

    Rating: 3.5* of fiveThe Publisher Says: 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 civilization--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 second volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, Area X's most disturbing questions are answered . . . but the answers are far from reassuring.My Review: We're not in Area X anymore, Toto, and therein the problem. Control, our PoV character, is hastily tossed together to provide a camera platform for the bureaucratic machinations and clandestine-agency wars.It's so frustrating to read a good book that's encased in a less-good book. Like those canned hams from the 1960s, the meat is tasty but who put this weird spoodge all over it?After much hither-and-thithering, not to mention an amazingly large amount of dithering for an executive, Control runs away from (almost) everything...and the ending makes up for most of the beginning. But really, editor, couldn't a few of those go-nowhere side trips have been pruned? (eg, Whitby's art project, Cheney's existence) It takes such a boatload of attention to track them.I think the slightly different angle on the same basic story as Annihilation is simply not a strong enough framework to bear the expectations raised by it. The very fact that the main character is known to all and sundry as "Control" is perhaps the single most telling tiny clue: it feels as if Vandermeer wasn't terribly interested in him or in this angle on Area X. Still and all, the sheer...audacity, bravura, something in that family...of the series can't be denied or ignored. Thus a half-star higher rating than I felt the novel qua novel earned.

  • Roblee
    2019-05-12 06:02

    The author, evidently paid by the word, tells a very long and atmospheric tale, approximately 200 pages overlong. An intriguing last few chapters and ending could stand alone as prelude to the final book.

  • Fabian
    2019-04-30 08:42

    An important cardinal rule of trilogies is broken with "Authority," Book 2 in the Southern Reach Trilogy. That which states that the second tome must build something out of the previous one, that its limits are expanded, that the adventure is transmogrified to its very apex (see, Star Wars episode 5, Godfather 2, "Senor Vivo and the Coca Lord" in Louis de Bernieres' Latin American trilogy... heck, even Catching Fire was the better of all the Hunger Games books). "Authority" does none of this--it extinguishes the fire that was barely coming to light in book one. It's almost as if a happy camper, too content with what's transpired in the wilderness outside his home, pisses on the ashes of his very own creation.Wow, man. Devastating news: VanderMeer only submerges into more murky waters a plot that's convoluted if barely there. Mysteries piled on top of mysteries--this is as thrilling (&, I guess, as important, structurally) as drying cement.Will I accept book 3, "Acceptance"? Probably not. I don't feel like venturing into terrain that's very promising but yields miserably little.

  • Sheila
    2019-04-24 11:41

    2.5 stars (somewhere between "meh" and "I liked it").This is a middle book and it shows. The last 20% of this book is great--full of action. But you have to slog through the first 80% to get there. Specifically, what I didn't care for:* I couldn't connect with the narrator.* Repetitive, slow-moving plot.* Instead of answers about Area X (Lovecraftian monsters? Aliens? A parallel dimension?), this is a book about government conspiracy/bureaucracy. What I wanted was to find out what was going on at Area X, so I'll definitely read the next book, and like I said, this does pick up at the end. There are some creepy hints dropped in this book, which I hope will be expanded upon. But this book lacks, in my mind, the fascination and horror of book 1.

  • Bradley
    2019-05-21 09:07

    Honestly, I wanted to stay longer in Area X, not get relegated to an almost sterile administration building for most of the novel.Control (the man, not the action) didn't even really begin to grow on me until well-past half-way mark. At least there were elements of spy-fiction, but in all honesty, the conflict in the novel was rather too light.I know we're not supposed to have answers in this kind of novel. I don't really expect them. It's all about the journey and cultivating a sense of wonder as a reader, trying to figure out the rules for yourself, seeing if you can do any better than the poor characters actually having to live it. (So to speak.)And yet, I had to wait until almost the very end to get that mere glance I was hoping for, and then it slipped beneath the water again.Too little happened. Most of what teased me were the long conversations with Ghost Bird on the other side of an interrogation table, and I did look forward to each and every one of those, but it wasn't until Control had to leave the administration building that I started to gel with the novel, and that's a shame, because I actively started LIKING the novel at that point.I'm partial to being thrown into the actual action, not just having a taste of squabbling coworkers making a hash of sending so many damn people into Area X. If I were a more critical reader, not willing to give credit where credit is finally due, I might have said I didn't like this book. Most of it bored me. Fortunately, I'm not a super critical reader. It did progress my understanding of Area X by way of the people on the outside, and even if they, also, are stumped, then at least they came by it honestly. Or dishonestly. Whatever. :)Ghost Bird, even for being placed on a pedestal and turned into an Object Of Understanding by everyone else, still remained my favorite character in either novel.Now, here's the tricky part: It's become painfully obvious to me that we're dealing with the themes of unconsciousness and Id (Annihilation) and consciousness and SuperEgo (Authority), both exploring the physical manifestation of the subconsciousness and how it rises out of the bog into consciousness. Annihilation was floating up, and Authority was sinking down. By extrapolation, Acceptance is going to be all about finding a workable balance, ending in EGO. Of course, I'm already of the opinion that Ghost Bird already has a pretty good grasp on it, I'm just going to go out on a limb that the tale will be about someone else. Perhaps Control, but probably a third we haven't met.Truly, the novel IS good if you analyze it. Too bad that it kinda fell flat in execution. Or perhaps that's my own SuperEgo being super critical because it knows, in a deeper sense, that super intellectualization is such a damn bore. :)Am I right?

  • Melki
    2019-05-19 04:41

    About thirty-two years ago, along a remote southern stretch known as the "forgotten coast," an Event occurred that began to transform the landscape and simultaneously caused an invisible border or wall to appear.The women seem to recall little about Area X. They say almost nothing about what they saw and what happened to them during their expedition. John Rodriquez/Control is tasked with finding the facts. "What do you remember about your husband?""That I had one.""Did you know he came back, like you?" he asked. "That he was disoriented, like you?""I'm not disoriented," she snapped, leaning forward and Control leaned back. He wasn't afraid, but for a moment he'd thought he should be. Book Two of the trilogy is an after-the-fact investigation, more expositional in nature, and does not have the same immediacy of the first book. I was just not engaged like I was with the previous adventure. On the plus side, there are a few moments of genuine creepiness in the latter third of the story and a lingering sense of foreboding. The slam-bang cliffhanger ending promises the third installment should be a doozy.

  • Trish
    2019-04-20 11:01

    To enable a new beginning the old has to make way.This continues the story of Area X, a part of what we now know is in the southern United States of America (somewhere in Florida to be more precise), that suddenly changed about 30 years ago. If the change really was sudden; there is still dispute about that. Anyway, about 30 years ago something happened and a form of border came down, shutting Area X off from the rest of the world. An agency, called Southern Reach, was formed to investigate and that's what they've been doing ever since. Or have they?After the disastrous end to expedition #12 at the end of the previous book, we're at Southern Reach's headquarters now. The biologist suddenly appeared in an empty lot, the anthropologist and surveyor somewhere else, the psychologist hasn't returned. All three returnees are being held and questioned.Control (John Rodriguez) is sent by the government to investigate for several reasons (layers upon layers upon layers).From the get-go, there is some friction with the staff at Southern Reach, who are less than happy to have him question their every move. This also leads to all expedition members but the biologist being sent away "due to a clerical error", effectively hindering the investigation, which isn't too bad, however, since the focus was on the biologist anyway. Thus, we get to witness some sessions between Control and the biologist, some interactions between him and the staff, some discoveries, some flashbacks into Control's family history and career, his methods changing as much as Control himself until the quite surprising end.From the beginning, this book was slightly different. Not just the audiobook's narrator (male this time to fit with the new protagonist) or the setting, but subtle things like the reader being told the true names of people before some of them adopted the designations known from book 1. Sadly, it didn't quite manage the sense of unease I felt while reading the first book.Despite my hope of getting back to Area X, I was very happy with this second installment. The games these people play with one another and themselves, the hypnosis ploy, the further mystery not only of what created Area X but also of at least the last expedition (such as the fact that (view spoiler)[the psychologist was the director of Southern Reach (hide spoiler)]) - I felt like a sleuth and very much enjoyed piecing together yet more elements to form the big picture.Through Control's investigative work we get to know what we already deduced from the ending of the last book: that there have been many more than 11 expeditions in total; that Area X is not really contained (the rabbit story had me bang my head against the wall); that there was something weird about the psychologist (apart from the usual). I quite liked the story of (view spoiler)[the psychologist/director being the girl in the picture of the lighthouse keeper and therefore having grown up in the area that is now Area X (hide spoiler)] although I had guessed that early on.What is definitely clear is that Area X, whatever it is, whether it's sentient on its own or has been created/placed by something, has been influencing all kinds of people all over the place for a long time. We're still not quite sure what that "border" is supposed to look like although we get a better image here (and yes, it was described a bit like what it's apparently shown as in the upcoming movie). Nevertheless, the fact that "we" didn't create the "door" into Area X is another very intriguing puzzle piece and I liked the theories, no matter how wild. Area X's influence on people also is the only way I can explain the sheer incompetence and stupidity of everyone, to say nothing of them apparently being unaware of their incompetence in the first place! That and the hypnosis strategy felt very weird. Not only because this kind of conditioning and hypnosis is not possible in real life (I think), but also because I still can't understand why they wouldn't see that this is actually hindering more than helping - they had more than enough experience by now!Thus, the story gave some answers while leaving us with further questions that might, in the end, form a better picture. Who knows. Sometimes the answers are in the subtext. Like the author seemlessly going from the conditioning / hypnosis to how we get brainwashed in real life too (by social media for example) and the consequences thereof. Or his exploration of Area X's fauna and flora, the biologist's emphasis on the descriptions during the debriefings, only to come back to what we're doing to our environment. These criticisms, of course, also pose important questions for the reader and the world around us, giving further depth to an already very complex tale.No idea if we will indeed get answers (or satisfying ones at any rate) but the journey certainly has already been very entertaining and enlightening and this could be the kind of story where everyone needs to take away what they can and need. After all, every character here is not only influenced by Area X itself, either, but by their past and people surrounding them as well.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Kristin(MyBookishWays Reviews)
    2019-05-05 10:40’m betting, if you’re like me, you had a ton of questions at the end of the wonderful ANNIHILATION. If so, you’ll be glad to know that Authority answers quite a few of them. Not all, but a few, and it’s a perfect filling in the sandwich of awesome that is the Southern Reach trilogy. Authority picks up a few months after the disastrous events of Annihilation and the biologist is in the custody of Southern Reach after being found standing in an empty parking lot after returning from Area X’s twelfth expedition. John Rodriguez, aka “Control” has been brought in to replace the missing Director and question the survivors. As soon as he arrives at Southern Reach he encounters pushback from the Assistant Director, who fervently believes the Director is still alive, a scientist named Whitby that may or may not be hiding something, and of course, the biologist, who gives cryptic answers to his questions and seems intent on stonewalling him. He has access to the former Director’s files and her office certainly yields more than a few oddities. He must report to an entity that he only knows as The Voice, but as he digs into the mysteries of Area X, he seems to only have more questions, and not many answers. Soon, things begin to fall apart around him, and he starts to suspect that the forces that are guiding him are much closer to him, and his past, then he could ever have imagined.For those that haven’t read Annihilation, Area X is a vast coastal area that was inexplicably changed at a time known as the Event, and an invisible border appeared. For 30 years, Southern Reach has been sending in teams of scientists, linguists, psychologists, you name it, to explore Area X and report back with their findings. Some didn’t make it back, and some that did came back…different somehow. Authority explores the aftermath of the 12th expedition, but it’s more than that. Authority is Control’s book, and we get to know him almost as well as we got to know the biologist in Annihilation. If, after reading Annihilation, you expected more of the same in Authority, put that thought out of your head. Authority takes place almost entirely at Southern Reach HQ and gives its reader a tour of an off the books clandestine government agency (with frequent detours into weird territory.) I love VanderMeer’s brand of weird though, and he layers Control’s story with very creepy moments during his research into Area X . This is what VanderMeer is really, really good at: creeping, crawling dread that plucks at your sleeve when you’re not looking and scuttles back into the shadows when you finally get up the nerve to face it head on. Annihilation had some real scares, but Authority is built of subtler stuff, a mounting dread that slowly increases in intensity until culminating in something that I wouldn’t call an end. To me, it was more of a beginning, but, well, you’ll see. Giving away too much would be to ruin this creepy gem of a book. It’s a worthy, if different companion to Annihilation, and while it stands just fine on its own, to read it without Annihilation is to deny yourself a near perfect reading experience. I imagine the author has some great stuff in store for Acceptance, and I can’t wait.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-04-24 06:39

    I read this book twice. I was 1/3 of the way through in the print and downloaded the audio because it is read by Bronson Pinchot, who I think is amazing. After finishing the book in audio, I went back and re-read the last 2/3, kind of backwards, starting from the last section and then deciding I should go ahead and re-read all of it to see what I had missed. I'm glad I did as there was a key scene I must have drifted off from in the audio.Area X is scary and still very unknown when this installation of the Southern Reach Trilogy ends. But may I make a list of things I find scarier than Area X?-Crumbling government buildings with sickly smelling chemicals (if that's what it is)-Controlling mothers who give you strange nicknames and don't want you calling them Mom-Phones that crawl across roofs-Lost time-BunniesI think that's what Jeff VanderMeer does best in this book. The core story moves forward, but I'm more unsettled by the small details.

  • Ryan
    2019-05-03 11:00

    The Good:As with Annihilation, this is wonderfully tense. The prose is great, conveying this small town mystery/thriller with humour and creeping dread. Excellent setting, great ideas, and some very good characters.The Bad:Once again, there is almost zero resolution. It’s frustrating, and turns an excellent book into a merely good one. It's also a bit slow.'Friends' character the protagonist is most like:Control is a failed spy turned incompetent administrator. He is dumber than he thinks he is, and on the precipice of losing all faith in himself. He’s like a late 30s, paranoid Joey Tribbiani.

  • Mike
    2019-05-17 03:43

    The Floor beneath his shoes was grimy, almost sticky. The fluorescent lights above flickered at irregular intervals, and the tables and chairs seemed like something out of a high school cafeteria. He could smell the sour metal tang of a low quality cleaning agent, almost like rotting honey. The room did not inspire confidence in the Southern Reach.Far from the formidable, shadowy, mysterious organization it was portrayed as in Annihilation, the Southern Reach is actually a painfully prosaic government bureaucracy that suffers from all the usual large organizational problems. Problems that Control, the POV character in this installment of the Southern Reach Trilogy, has to tackle.(Spoilers for Annihilation below)About thirty-two years ago, along a remote southern stretch known by some as the "forgotten coast," an Event had occurred that began to transform the landscape and simultaneously caused an invisible border or wall to appear.Into this Area X the Biologist from the first book ventured, looking for answers about what happened to her Husband, who was part of a previous expedition. What she found was pristine nature, strange creatures, and an even stranger subterranean "tower" habitated by a strange creature that wrote bizarre prose on the wall:Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner I shall bring forth the seeds of the dead to share with the worms that gather in the darkness and surround the world with the power of their lives...By the end the rest of the Biologist's team has died or been killed and she sets off to an island described in a journal by her husband she found, along with journals of countless (many more that were reported) expeditions.Flash forward several months and there is a new Director of Southern Reach who goes by the name Control.While Control came with whispers about being part of a kind of invisible dynasty, which naturally bred resentment, there was no denying that fact, even if, up close, the dyansty was more like a devolving franchise.Control had developed a reputation as being a fixer after blowing several field assignments, one of which ended with an innocent person's death due to Control. His mother, high up in Central (Southern Reach's parent organization), placed him in his new position to get Southern Reach straightened up and figure out just what was going on in Area X.But if he was here to assess and restore, he needed a better idea of how badly it had all slipped-and as some sociopath at another station had once said, "The fish rots from the head." Fish rotted all over, cell corruption being nonhierarchical and not caste driven, but point taken. Turns out the former director was in fact the Psychologist that accompanied the Biologist on her expedition. Her disappearance, along with the reappearance of the rest of the expedition, has thrown Southern Reach into some disarray. The existing assistant director has no love for him, resenting his presence and carrying a torch for the previous director, insisting she will return. As an organization the Southern Reach had become calcified, operating almost on inertia:It [the carpet] was as worn down as the Southern Reach, as the agency moved along its appointed grooves on this fun-house ride that was called Area X.With budget and staff being cut ("..soon enough they might have a situation where subdepartments consisted of one person writing themselves up for offenses, giving themselves raises and bonuses, celebrating their own birthdays with custom-made Southern Reach-shaped carrot cakes.") as the powers that be lost interest in Area X (whose borders had remained fixed since the event), and as little to nothing new had been discovered about Area X, the employees clung to the familiar, fighting to maintain their niche within the organization. Instead of boldly pursuing the nature of Area X, decades of failure, death, and budget cuts had sapped whatever vital energy might have once resided in the agency, an Agency that just might be the only thing standing between humanity and something vastly more powerful and alien than we could imagine:Idly, he wondered what they called it-whoever or whatever had created that pristine bubble that had killed so many people. Maybe they called it a holiday retreat. Maybe they called it a beachhead. Maybe "they" were so incomprehensible that he'd never understand what they called it, or why."This book comes down to a bureaucratic mystery. Control has somehow figure out not only what is going on in Area X (a job made difficult by the previous director's... unorthodox data storage methods), but also wrest control from the assistant director all while caught up in factional conflict taking place higher up in Central:He had a vision, again, of Grace[the assistant director] spiriting away the biologist, of multiple mutual attempted destructions, until somewhere up in the clouds, atop two vast and blood-drenched escalators, they continued to do battle years from now.Where the first book took place exclusively in Area X with some flashbacks, this book mostly takes place in the Southern Reach complex with some flashbacks about Control's relationship with his family. What I found striking about this book, compared to the first one, is just how different the settings were: Area X's pristine wilderness to Southern Reach's suffocating, decaying offices, both inimicalable to human life.It [naturey area near a town] wasn't true wilderness, was comfortingly close to civilization, but existed just enough apart to create a boundary. This was what most people wanted: to be close to but not part of. They didn't want the fearful unknown of a "pristine wilderness." They didn't want a soulless artificial life, either.Both Control and the Biologist faced a mystery, but on different sides of the boundary: what was the nature of Area X and how does it impact humans. When the boundary arose during the event, thousands died, nature was restored to a pristine state, free of human contamination. Some expeditions were wiped out, others returned unharmed, and others, like the one the Biologist's husband was a part of, returned as cancer stricken zombies.This book once again has a very fulfilling slow burn as we are eased into the alienating atmosphere of the Southern Reach. Something always seems a bit off, be it the long time employees there who have gazed into the abyss, the decaying building, the mystery of the former director, or all the history of Southern Reach we discover. Answers give way to deeper, more unsettling questions. control is no green, wet behind the gills agent, he is a professional and knows a bad situation when he sees it:Because as far as he was concerned, the agency was fucked and he was now an undercover agent in the field, entering hostile territory.The tension between Control, his handlers at Central, and the existing bureaucracy (not to mention the inherent strangeness of Area X) create a very creepy, paranoid atmosphere that slowly seeps into the reader's awareness until it bursts forth in an eruption of craziness at the end, setting the stage for what could be a damn awesome conclusion.All in all this was an enthralling book and a great sequel to Annihilation, even if it wasn't quite as good.Some additional notes:-I think this book sort of suffered from secondbook-itis (though not nearly as bad as The Children of the Sky). Yes, we learned a lot more about the Southern Reach but felt like we were mostly in a holding pattern until the very end. Not that this is a critical flaw, this book did a great job introducing and developing the Control character, and this book is sort of meant to be the middle part of one cohesive book, but the weakness of this role did creep in a bit.-While there was quite a bit of tension, I also liked how VanderMeer would give us the equivalent of cat jump scares yo would see in horror movies. For instance:Now it [the Director's old phone Control had chucked into the words after mysteriously finding it with his stuff] looked more like something alive that it had before. It looked like something that had gone exploring or burrowing and come back to report in. Under the phone, thankfully, was a note from the landlord. In a quivering scrawl she had written, "The lawn man found this yesterday. Please dispose of phones in the garbage if you are done with them." He tossed it into the bushes.-You are never sure just what world this takes place in. There are theories about the multi-verse bandied about, but no specific, identifiable names are given; no national governments are mentioned, no countries are named. What does appear to be the case, though, is this world is majorly screwed up. "The TV was on low, showing the aftermath of massive floods and a school massacre in between commercials for a big basketball series."-There were some great creepy scenes and revelations in this installment, on par with Annihilation.-Oddly enough, the biggest message I got out of this book is the problems with large organizations. Southern Reach should be staffed with the very best of the very best, galvanized by the unquenchable desire to figure out Area X. But even if started with the best intentions, organizations need either strong, inspiring leadership, a constant influx of new ideas, or a series of successes to keep humans engaged in the task. But decades of failure and neglect will do a number or any organization (just look at the Cleveland Browns).

  • Morgannah
    2019-05-12 12:02

    Welcome to Southern Reach:After touring Area X in Annihilation this second installment of the "Southern Reach" trilogy takes us to the Southern Reach facility where very few questions are answered, more unexplained stuff happens, and sh*t gets even weirder.Authority is a completely different piece of story telling than Annihilation. Where Annihilation is a short sweet shock to the system like an infection, Authority is a slow-building panic attack of a novel.Our beloved biologist is replaced in Authority by Control, who is now our MC and official tour guide of the Southern Reach facility. He is the new director of Southern Reach charged with finding out why things seem to be going so wrong. Vulnerable without being tragic, flawed without being overly hapless or cruel, the real brilliance of Control’s narration is how he sees both the mundane and the uncanny within the agency. I was BEYOND ready to take this journey with Control because I was in desperate need of answers and I needed him to read all the files, open all the closets, and put all the puzzle pieces together for me. Tracking Control’s obstructed, fretful quest for answers was as pleasurable as it was frightening. I found myself wondering what I would do if I were Control and more often than not he made the same decisions I would have made, both the good ones and the bad ones. While Control is a likeable and engaging lead, there are many stars to the novel, and every character is memorable. From the annoying as hell assistant director Grace, to the eccentric and secretive scientist Whitby, there’s a believable diversity to the characters. There is more to all of them than meets the eye, and the way they keep Control running in circles adds many layers to the story.I must admit that Mr. VanderMeer is a genius and he knows how to not only put us in Control's shoes but he puts us in his head as well. He uses a study of the mundane amidst the bizarre to build a slow, uneasy agitation, breeding a different kind of tension and darkness. I loved Annihilation’s beautiful descriptions and metaphors and got more of the same here. Authority is just as rich in imagery, both beautiful and creepy. As the mysteries of Area X open upsome questions from Annihilation are answered almost immediately while others fester in the background like infected sores while even more questions are added to the pile. There is a horrible, lovely dread behind the balance of knowing and not knowing and I found it to be the best kind of infuriating.

  • Jason
    2019-04-23 08:04

    5 StarsAuthority by Jeff Vandermeer, book two in the Southern Reach series is a fantastic read. This book is not your typical middle novel as it is a very different book from Annihilation. Vandermeer continues to prove to me what an amazing author that he is, versatile, verbose, and a gift for painting the vivid picture.Control is the star of this book and it takes place almost exclusively at the Southern Reach. This book is more of a mystery and a puzzle to solve than the adventure that was book one. Control slowly uncovers pieces of the puzzle and along the way fills in a great deal more of the background and the world that Southern Reach lies in.I loved this book…I love how different from book one it is. Control is a character easily able to carry this story. The ending of this book was a fabulous on its own even though it was clearly the setup to the final installment.The strange writing that haunts our heroes will haunt you as well:“Where lies the strangling fruit that came from the hand of the sinner I shall bring forth the seeds of the dead to share with the worms that gather in the darkness and surround the world with the power of their lives while from the dim-lit halls of other places forms that never could be writhe for the impatience of the few who have never seen or been seen. In the black water with the sun shining at midnight, those fruit shall come ripe and in the darkness of that which is golden shall split open to reveal the revelation of the fatal softness in the earth. The shadows of the abyss are like the petals of a monstrous flower that shall blossom within the skull and expand the mind beyond what any man can bear …”““Is your house in order?” the Voice asked. “Is it in order?”Two thousand white rabbits herded toward an invisible door. A plant that didn’t want to die. Impossible video footage. More theories than there were fish in the sea. Was his house in order? An odd way for the Voice to phrase it, as if they spoke using a code to which Control did not have the key. Yet it made him feel secure even though that was counterintuitive.”“Control didn’t know where to start because he didn’t want to start at all. What he wanted to talk about was the video footage, but that was impossible. The words would linger, form in his mind, but never become sound, trapped between his need and his will. He couldn’t tell any human being, ever. If he let it out, contaminated someone else’s mind, he would not forgive himself. A girlfriend who had gleaned some sense of his job had once asked, “Why do you do it?”—meaning why serve such a clandestine purpose, a purpose that could not be shared, could not be revealed. He’d given his standard response, in a portentous manner, to poke fun at himself. To disguise the seriousness. “To know. To go beyond the veil.” Across the border. Even as Control said it, he had known that he was also telling her he didn’t mind leaving her there, alone, on the other side.”Amazing writing…amazing author…and a fabulous series not to be missed.

  • Lauren
    2019-05-16 10:04

    This book was frustrating to read. I did not find Control as intriguing a viewpoint character as the biologist, and he spent the vast majority of this book running from place to place not finding any answers. There were occasional moments that were engaging, such as Control's interviews with "the biologist", and much of the last quarter of the book. I still think that Vandermeer's writing is fantastic, and the creepy moments in the book are genuinely creepy, I just wish that the book had spent less time treading water without actually going anywhere.

  • Paul
    2019-04-20 06:48

    My buddy reader Morgannah Lefevre wrote such an excellent review for this title I scratched my head trying to think of what to add.I loved how with changing the MC in the second entry to the trilogy Vandermeer not only switched Pov but also made a fresh perspective and organically changed focus from Area X to the Southern Reach. Authority answered more questions about the Southern Reach than annihilation did about area x. but he left some questions u answered so in the first two books he piqued the readers interest in the world and characters he created. now I just hope and trust the third title will provide some satisfactory answers.

  • David Katzman
    2019-04-26 07:54

    An unsettling study of the ineffable. The indescribable. A slowly constricting knot. Our human edifices are evanescent. Or as I say in my novel A Greater Monster, "A home is paper thin."Nature is a harsh taskmistress. Nature is implacable. We have been playing with fire for a long time now. Humans think they own the land. The clouds. The air. The water. We do not own it. It owns us. We've been borrowing it without paying back the principal. And it's going to come due soon.Authority is the second book in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach Trilogy. I urge you to pick up Book 1, Annihilation, which I reviewed here.Book 2 exudes a slow burning tension that builds a sense of claustrophobia and mystery. It is again a sort of hybrid fantasy (that's literature for you, doesn't always fall into neat categories) with elements of fantasy horror mystery and psychological thrillers combined. The horror, like in Book 1, has a rather a Lovecraftian quality—which embodies this theme of the indescribable I mentioned at the outset. Lovecraft presents a horror behind our dimension, insane indescribable entities that lurk behind all things and that we can never understand. Life itself, even that which is beautiful, is inexplicable. Life just is. No matter the bones of the matter, the physical attributes of animal and plant matter...existence is a mystery. When you look at atoms and electrons and quantum particles...and the mysteries of the big bang and.... In some ways, the Southern Reach trilogy, at least so far in Books 1 and 2, is about that ineffable mystery of existence. And in other ways, it is about the horror of not understanding. That which cannot be named. We all know how the story ends. We all die. No one likes that ending. And it might come for our species, when? A few years with a nuclear surprise? A couple centuries when global warming creates another ice age and clean water shortage? Blink of the eye.Before getting on to the specifics, I'm simply going to say these are the best fantasy novels I've read in a long time. Erudite and masterful in the writing itself and with honest human characters. VanderMeer is a master of atmosphere, and both books conjure up a haunting, creeping dread that is both frightening and delicious. They were both hard to put down. Highly recommended.What follows is marked as Spoiler for those who haven't read Book 1. If you have read Book 1, then I won't reveal any major surprises from Book 2.(view spoiler)[Authority picks up a short time after Annhilation ends. Rather than focusing on Area X, this book focuses on the Southern Reach itself, which is rather like an outpost of the X-Files set slightly in the future (the year is always kept undefined). What is initially quite a surprise is that three of the characters who seemed to die in Book 1, have returned and are being questioned by the Southern Reach researchers.The story is written in close first-person, just as Annhilation was. In this case, the main character is John Rodriguez who calls himself Control, based on a nickname he was given as a boy by his grandfather. He's third generation espionage...and trying desperately to live up to the harsh legacy of his mother's side of the family. Especially his distant spymaster mother. The plot follows him as he is assigned to take over as the new head of the Southern Reach, which is seen by headquarters as a rather incompetent, bumbling institution...but really, given it is trying to solve an impossible mystery, it's not surprising that outsiders of the Southern Reach would find it to be bordering on utter failure. Well, John is perhaps the perfect outsider to take over this disastrous institution because he himself has had a rather bumbling incompetent career and running the Southern Reach is his last chance to save himself.Unlike most espionage leaders, John seems rather naive. He tends toward empathy (admits that himself) and seems like the kind of person who never should have gone into the "family business." But he has a lot to prove to himself. VanderMeer portrays him with incredible verisimilitude. Admittedly, he frustrated me at times, but he always seemed real. Authority follows him literally struggling for authority with a staff that ranges from highly eccentric (not in a comedic way) to the openly hostile. He is not appreciated by the Assistant Director who had strong ties to the former Director, and she frequently and successfully undermines his authority. Respect is a word never used, but authority was really a proxy for respect, and that he was always seeking respect and rarely receiving it. He deeply desired to be respected by his mother, the institution, his co-workers and even those he interrogates. But respect doesn't come easy. It's interesting to note that VanderMeer cast several of the main characters as "minorities." John is half Mexican (his father) and American (his mother), and the Assistant Director is a black woman and divorced after she came out as lesbian. The returned Biologist from Book 1 was Asian-American. This issue of "respect" or authority in some ways I think relates also to their ethnicity, there being an implication that, as they say, if you don't come from the dominant racial group you need to be twice as smart and work twice as hard to get ahead. A sad commentary on the tribal prejudice that arises from economic instability and fear of resource loss. A misplaced/displaced genetic survival urge for food and reproduction.We follow John as he attempts to solve the mysteries of Area X (and the mysteries of the Southern Reach) and what is happening there. I won't take you any further but will simply say it's another incredible work. Yes, it lacks a neat bow at the end, and I'm sure some will be very disappointed by that. I can only say, this is Book 2 of a trilogy. And doesn't have a neat bow. Please refer back to paragraph one. (hide spoiler)]

  • Char
    2019-05-19 08:40

    I liked the narration but this story isn't working well for me. I'm playing with the idea of not reading the last one at all. I probably will though, because I feel the need to finish the series after investing all this time.

  • Conor
    2019-05-04 10:06

    Normally I eat pretty healthy. Not really because I possess any special piety, but because my body just doesn’t feel that great when I don’t eat well. I still eat as much meat and fat as I want, but I grow lethargic without veggies, and soda makes me feel worn out, and anything processed just doesn’t taste great to me, so it works out to be a pretty great deal where I can eat what I want and stay healthy. But over the past two weeks, my local grocery store has had this annoying deal. They are charging a measly $5 for 1.9lbs of sour patch kids. And not just any sour patch kids—it’s the bag with the blue guys in it! I bought one bag and thought, naively, “Oh, this will be a nice thing to have at my work desk, so others can come by for a nice, sweet treat.” Well, so much for that. After a period of several stressful days compounded by hunger because I couldn’t really escape the orbit of my desk, I made it through the entire bag, less a few handfuls for coworkers nearby. The first couple of bites are great, but after a while I really just return because it’s there, and my body remembers being satisfied by it, but as I shovel more handfuls of sour-coated, homunculus-shaped gelatin down my gullet, I do it knowing that I’m not really being satisfied. In fact, overall I think the effect might be a small net negative.And such is the work of Jeff VanderMeer, I am starting to realize. Both of his first two entries in this trilogy (and to a lesser extent, “Borne,” his unrelated but thematically similar newest book) have started out with such promise. About halfway through, you realize that the initial high is illusory, but that doesn’t really stop you. You keep going in, even as it becomes totally clear that each book is going to leave more intriguing topics broached but not satisfactorily addressed. It’s not quite in “Lost” territory yet, but for all intents and purposes it can be properly compared thereto.I’m not really a “sunk cost” fallacy guy, so I wouldn’t have any qualms about not finishing this if I truly didn’t like it. The thing is, it’s all pleasant and alluring enough, even if you know you won’t be satisfied when the end comes. And for the same reason that when I saw that the sale was still on, I picked up a second 1.9 lb bag (do not judge me so harshly, dear reader, for I am too weak and riddled with cavities to bear the shame!) and then proceeded to demolish it in less than a week, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I pick up the third installment in this series and piggishly make my way through that as well. I’ll let you know if I am pleasantly surprised!

  • Steve
    2019-04-24 12:05

    The border was coming to the Southern Reach.Authority pretty much picks up where Annihilation left off, but not in a way that I could have anticipated. It turns out that the "psychologist" from book one, was also the director of the Southern Reach -- a scientific and military complex near the border of the mysterious Area X. All the public has been told about Area X is that an environmental accident occurred there, and that it is off-limits. The new director, John Rodriguez, tells the demoralized staff that he is to be called "Control." This bizarre introduction kicks off an immediate passive-aggressive war with the assistant director, Grace, who was -- and in a sense, still is -- fiercely loyal to the previous director. Control's reputation is that of a "fixer," a hatchet man sent to assess a dying unit that doesn't seem to be making any headway in its now 30 years long study of the lethal Area X. Team are sent in, and, for the most part, they don't come back. If someone does come back, they come back changed, not the same.But Control is more than a fixer. He's an intelligence operative who has been installed in this position by his spy-mother. This "spy" element sounds goofy, but it isn't This aspect of VanderMeer's tale is extremely well done -- as in top drawer Perfect Spy le Carre. Something is going on at the Southern Reach -- and in Area X, but "Central" (a CIA equivalent) can't quite ascertain what. Is Area X advancing? Are its borders becoming permeable? The paranoia is as thick as anything you can find in a Thomas Pynchon or Don DeLillo novel, but without Pynchon's silliness or DeLillo's chilly post-human hipster weirdness. You actually care for VanderMeer's characters. And with Control that's very hard to do -- at first. He comes across as a complete dick. But at the same time you have this growing sense of the horrific weirdness of his environment. Lines blur. Authority represents one of the finest examples of a dissolving or changing reality that I've run across in fiction. To sustain that for over 300 pages is, from a writing perspective, a real high wire act, but one that VanderMeer pulls off effortlessly. I rated the first book in the series, Annihilation, five stars. I think it's a classic. So much so that I had deep concerns that VanderMeer couldn't maintain the story for three books. I was wrong -- and wonderfully surprised with where he took the tale of Area x and the Southern Reach. The only difference between the two is that Annihilation can stand alone. Authority definitely needs the first book, or you'll be lost. But if you've read the first book, and liked it, the details and the creepy dangers of Area X will only expand with Authority.

  • Kristen Shaw
    2019-05-01 04:54

    Wow, is all I can say about this trilogy so far. At times I thought I was veering towards liking Authority more than Annihilation, but really, both are immensely interesting books with their own pleasures. The strongest aspect of Authority, for me, is the slow build of tension. The pacing is absolutely terrific, making it difficult to put down. A lot of typical "horror" novels are a let down in this regard - they promise a great reveal which is usually disappointing. Authority doesn't disappoint. There are so many absolutely hair-raising and dread inducing moments, but Vandermeer holds just enough back to maintain a sense of lingering unease in the reader. Like Annihilation, Authority is characterized by an underlying sense of horror and the uncanny that is perfectly balanced and restrained. I can't wait for the final book. Can't. Wait.

  • Marianna Neal
    2019-05-10 11:40

    3.5 out of 5 starsSlightly conflicted about this one. I definitely preferred Annihilation, but seeing the story continue from the outside was an interesting approach, and starting to get at least SOME answers was almost satisfying. OK, maybe not actual answers, but at least we're getting there. I will say that it took me longer to warm up to Control compared to how quickly I was on board with the Biologist and the rest of the team in the first book. BUT, the ending is totally worth it! It's up to Acceptance now to bring all of this together, which will absolutely make or break the series. It's worth noting that even though you pretty much can view/enjoy Annihilation as a standalone, this is not the case with Authority. Reading this one without the first one would be majorly confusing, and the story is very much tied up with the first novel.

  • Fiona
    2019-05-12 05:56

    There seems to be a trend, the last few years, and I'm rather liking it: in 2012, I found a couple of authors who got me very much on side with (what feels like) a new wave of fast-talking, clever fantasy. In 2013, I discovered that 'literary fiction' is a broader category than I thought it was, and more importantly, it doesn't bite. It's 2014 now, and I feel like the books that are inserting themselves into my consciousness at the moment are ones that play with the rules of genre, of sci-fi, of storytelling. What else is there out there that I’ve just not registered yet? I’m feeling the beginnings of an ebb towards horror, and the manipulation of my emotions as a reader. Fiction is so vast, and it makes me feel very small. I like meandering from place to place in it, and I feel like I’m very slowly getting bits of its geography straight in my head. In a way, I’m a bit sad I never studied literature and got pointed in these directions. In a way, I’m really enjoying this pleasingly autodidactic exploration of something I love very much.Which is all a way of saying, I’ve had a burgeoning author crush on Adam Roberts since I read Jack Glass back in February, and now he’s everywhere I look – including, the day I finish Authority, writing a review of this whole Southern Reach series on the Guardian explaining how clever and interesting it is. Rightly, I think, he says that Authority is weaker than Annihilation, but also I loved it very much and I’m glad it exists as a bridge between Annihilation, which I just finished, and Acceptance, which I have now started (oho! I could get used to advance copies of talking point books). A thing that I like very much in action-packed stories is a bit of time to stop, look around, find out what the protagonists’ normal looks like before it gets summarily stomped on. Authority is a book about office politics (good effort, Graun commenter who said it ought to have been called Administration, you are very witty) in an extremely tense and stressful workplace. It is the knife-edge before the topple. It was never going to be as all-consuming as Annihilation, and it shouldn’t have been, for the sake of my poor nerves as much as anything else. I liked that it slowed down so I could have a look around. I liked that it was a chance to get a bit more of a sense of personalities, history and context – something there just wasn’t room for in the first book. I think I have a fondness for the middle book in a series, anyway: it doesn’t have to introduce everyone, it doesn’t have to wrap up, it just has to concentrate on doing its thing. I like this thing that it was doing.The fun of Annihilation came from knowing next to nothing; in Authority it comes from trying to extrapolate from what you’ve learned, and realising how little of the story you still have. (Also, bad parents. A lot of the fun comes from terrible parenting.) It’s difficult to write a story in which bureaucracy and obfuscation feature so heavily, and also make it suspenseful and a successful follow-up to something so high-octane. I don’t really know that there was any way to do it better.If you’ve come straight from the first one, know that there are answers here to questions you didn’t think to ask. If you’ve not come straight from the first one, I think you should go back and read it, because you won’t have any idea what’s going on, and it is a drip-feed of information best started at the right point. Roll on part three. My mind is ready.

  • Stephen
    2019-05-11 09:08

    Like its predecessor, Authority is a surreal, immersive and compelling read. In it we glimpse, the inner workings of the Southern Reach, the agency tasked with understanding and containing Area X. The title suggests someone is in control of the Reach. A better title would be Disintegration, as the agency, its staff and newly arrived Director John Rodriquez, who ironically calls himself Control, are collapsing. Real and imagined have become fluid. Friend and foe uncertain. Is Area X reaching out to ensnare the Reach or are those tasked with studying it so lost in its mystique they are drawing it across the border? The Biologist from the first book may know but she’s not talking.A worthy follow to Annihilation. 4 stars, only because it drags at the end. Can’t wait to read the conclusion.