Authority by Jeff Vandermeer (The Southern Reach Trilogy: Book 2)

9/10 Vandermeer does a stellar job of crafting the world of The Southern Reach trilogy, and readers seeking tense unique sci-fi laced with horror will be in for a treat

The thrilling second volume of The Southern Reach Trilogy provides equal measure of terror and wonder as the mysteries of Area X unravel.

The Southern Reach Trilogy takes place in and around Area X. Area X is a shimmering piece of land along a small coastline which has been occupied by an alien entity. The environment morphs with this presence, and the humans who do return from Area X are never the same as they were prior to contact.

Authority moves away from the more personal feel of Annihilation allowing the reader to begin to see the mechantions of the Southern Reach, the secret government organisation tasked with the exploration and analysis of Area X. The departure from Annihilation's intimate journal POV gives a greater sense of scope, hinting that the conspiracies run deeper and the mystery of Area X is far larger than each small reveal.

Authority takes a perspective change from the first book in the series, with the voice shifting to third person as we follow the new Director of the Southern Reach, John “Control” Rodriguez. Naturally the tone shifts with this changed perspective, there is less of the awe and wonder seen in the first instalment instead the growing unease previously established moves to the forefront.

Vandermeer crafts intrigue through the administration duties of the secretive Southern Reach.

Control is an interesting protagonist, working in intelligence his whole life and coming from a family of agents. Control has learned to be constantly on guard; slipping into paranoia the longer he stays in the Southern Reach, surrounded by the secrecy and the unquantifiable threat of Area X. Fitting symmetry that Control is defined, even by his own family, by his occupation, as the members of the expedition of 12 in Annihilation were referred to by occupation instead of name.

Authority presents the threat of an extraterrestrial intelligence beyond our comprehension, which is already on Earth and manipulating the flora and fauna it encounters. Vandermeer has created in Area X, an embodiment of the fear of the unknown.

Authority as the second book in The Southern Reach Trilogy serves as a tense transition into the finale. While Annihilation can be read as a stand alone book, Authority is distinctly a sequel. Vandermeer does a stellar job of crafting the world of The Southern Reach trilogy, and readers seeking tense unique sci-fi laced with horror will be in for a treat.

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Jeff Vandermeer's The Southern Reach Trilogy: Book 2 series


The Southern Reach Trilogy: Book 2

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