Monday, 1 December 2014

Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

Back in October, I sped though the first book in The Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation, where the arcane landscape known as Area X is introduced. Publicly described as an environmental disaster, but with more secrets than are known, Area X is cordoned off by the military and a clandestine organisation deploys parties of experts over the fated border to try and unravel the mysteries of Area X. 

The first book details the most recent expedition and the four varying experts in differing fields that are sent on a fact-finding mission that previous participants rarely survive. 

In the second book, we delve further into the inner workings of The Southern Reach, the shady government agency tasked with investigating and containing Area X and its encroaching invisible border. 

Put in charge of this seemingly impossible endeavour is John Rodriguez, aka Control, who has been appointed the new director after the disappearance of his predecessor. Given orders by a higher authority, known only as The Voice, he must wade through the tons of information compiled from previous expeditions, including the latest one to try and make sense of Area X and its secrets, which is a much more complex and dangerous task than he ever could have imagined. 

I have to admit that it took me a while to get into this book, compared to the first offering. I didn't really warm to Control’s character and it didn't seem to have the pace of the first novel. However, as Control delves deeper into the seemingly bottomless pit of data, as well as adjusting to a mixed bag of colleagues; the dramas that arise and secrets uncovered are compelling and the thrill of the bigger mystery kept me reading. 

It was interesting to see the book from the agency’s view and learn how The Southern Reach’s actions, both as an organisation and as individuals affected Area X. The last third of the book gets especially gripping as things start coming to a head and the storyline moves forward much quicker and the ending definitely left me eagerly anticipating the last book. 

Filled with thrills and intrigue, as well as science and intelligence, Authority is a great bridge to the last instalment and I have no idea as to what is coming next, but am extremely excited to find out!

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