Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Series: Southern Reach, #3
Page Count: 338
Original Publication Date: 2014
Genre(s): Adult fiction, New weird
*Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t read the previous books
The final installment in the Southern Reach trilogy will answer many of your questions first formed in Annihilation, but will also leave you hanging, suspended in open air over a chasm of about 100 newly-formed questions. We follow Control and Ghost Bird back into Area X to search for the missing biologist. We discover who the lighthouse keeper was and how he became he infamous Crawler. And we learn more about the mysterious Director, aka the Psychologist from book 1. We follow the last expedition into Area X, but we may never come back out of it.
Well, guys, I’ve finally finished the trilogy. I haven’t read a series in a long time, and I forgot how bogged down I get with them. I’ve definitely become a standalone lover the older I get. It was refreshing to immerse myself in this world, though, even though I’m not really sure what exactly I just finished reading. The Southern Reach trilogy is a wild ride and instead of dropping you off back at the beginning, you just kind of get ejected into mid-air and flop around for a while before hitting the ground.
Acceptance is divided into 3 books. The novel starts and ends with the Director, easily my most hated character in book 1, who slowly I come to appreciate, sympathize with, and care for in book 3. Her chapters are told in second-person. Weird, right? But it works. Quite well, actually. Her parts of the book are very immersive and give a lot of insight into the Southern Reach.
Alternating with the Director’s POV chapters in Books 1 and 3 are Ghost Bird’s, Control’s, and Saul Evans’s (the lighthouse keeper’s) accounts. Ghost Bird and Control are together in Area X, so their chapters are fairly similar in content, but drastically differ in voice. I also find it fascinating that Ghost Bird, as a copy of the Biologist, still has a completely different voice and personality from her original. VanderMeer is an incredible writer. They are literally 2 separate characters, and you never forget that. Ghost Bird’s and Control’s chapters are mildly interesting as they keep you in current Area X, which also makes them a bit confusing at times, too.
Saul’s chapters are by far the most interesting. Not at first… I found myself bored of his POV for a while, but slowly became more interested as strange things started happening to him—Area X creeping in through the microscopic cracks. I found his to be the saddest, as well.
Perhaps my favorite section of the novel was Book 2, and I truly don’t want to spoil it for those of you who haven’t read it, so…if you want to see why it was my favorite, check out this review on my Goodreads and click the “View Spoiler” button in this very same paragraph. It’s pretty much all I’ve been waiting for since I finished Annihilation. And it pretty much makes the entire book worth it.
I suppose this is just as much a series review as a book 3 review… Acceptance does not compare with the greatness of Annihilation, but still is a fab addition to the series and a fine conclusion. I see reviews where people are bashing the book (and the series) for not giving you every answer to every question, for not wrapping up the series in a neat little bow…and I think that’s a silly reason to dislike the book/series. Why do you want everything answered? That’s so boring. I think endings are supposed to be subjective. Open-ended. Mysterious. It’s up to you to interpret it. To fill in the gaps. Why do you need to know everything? Ugh. Get outta here…
I truly enjoyed this series. It has rekindled my love for sci-fi/horror/fantasy/weird stuff. I hope I find more stuff like this on my bookshelf. Jeff VanderMeer is a fantastic writer who has an incredible imagination. I will definitely be looking into more of his novels.
I’m sad to say goodbye to Area X, but I know I can revisit whenever I want, and that makes it ok. Plus, now I get to have these gorgeous covers sitting on my bookshelf
“Freedom could take you farther from what you sought, not closer.”
“You made a lot of fucking mistakes. You made a lot of fucking mistakes, and yet I love you.”