I am writing this article for purely selfish reasons. I want someone to talk about these books with because literary discussion is one need I refuse to let the Internet fill.
For the most rabid fans of True Detective, the season 2 premiere can’t come quickly enough. As one of those rabid fans, I am eagerly awaiting its return in summer 2015. And in a moment of panic, I threatened to force my brother (who is stateside, while I am not) to tape all of the episodes for me if I couldn’t watch them in South Korea (don’t worry, I downloaded a proxy, we’re good). The show has an addictive combination of creepy cop drama and Lovecraftian horror, and the presence of the McConaissance in all its glory. And Woody Harrelson. Gotta love Woody Harrelson.
My life had been missing a certain sense of horror and existential dread since the completion of True Detective season 1. It had turned into a faded memory — there was nothing to keep me up at night, tossing and turning and wondering about whether or not time is a flat circle. It was a void I just didn’t know how to fill.
Enter the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. The first in the series, forebodingly named Annihilation, appears to be the journal of an unnamed biologist charged with exploring a quarantined area of what is presumably the southern United States. The book soon takes a turn for the uncanny, and by the end I was left questioning everything I had just read. And beyond that, I was questioning everything I had thought about paranormal activity and our place in the universe and horror and…and…I loved it.
And it only gets worse with the second and third books, obviously. Jason Sheehan of NPR said of the third book, Acceptance:
“The best haunted lighthouse story ever written, a deeply unsettling tale of first contact, a book about death, a book about obsession and loss, a book about the horrifying experience of confronting an intelligence far greater and far stranger than our own, and a book about sea monsters.”
He said it so well I didn’t feel the need to paraphrase. These books have so many compelling components — interesting characters, exotic locations, and of course, the potentially exploitable, gaping hole in the human understanding of the universe. You know, that.
If I have not been sufficiently convincing yet, here are some more reasons to start reading, in list form:
1. Ladies, feminism is calling. Sort of. The first book is all about an all-lady expedition into the mysterious quarantined area, known as Area X. Let’s support stories about women created for the masses.
2. If you’re a fan of Michael Crichton. You know, the man who wrote such sci-fi classics as The Andromeda Strain, Congo, Sphere, Prey, and oh yeah, Jurassic Park. Much like any Crichton classic there is action and adventure, but here it’s accompanied by an overwhelming sense of doom. DOOM!
4. Movies! Paramount and Scott Radin Pictures have already optioned the books. Although there is no sassy, empowering teenager to lead the marketing charge, I am positive that the buzz about the movies will reach fever pitch in the coming months. Don’t be out of the loop!
Literature should be as challenging as it is exciting, and these books are definitely both.There is nothing quite like being swept away from the world and into a fictional universe, mesmerized by a page turning story. I realize that I’m asking a lot of people; it’s hard to have the time and patience to sit down and read a book, especially in a world of listicles and factoids (I’m not trying to hate on factoids or listicles. I am clearly a fan of the listicle, I just made one in this article. But I digress). So please, pick up these books, give them a read, if for no other reason than to give me something literary to talk about.