The exciting conclusion to the Souther Reach Trilogy. Vandermeer delivers a satisfying conclusion, carefully balancing answers and closure with open-endedness and, well, acceptance.

About half-way through the book, I’ll admit I was worried. Some of Vandermeer’s rhetorical tricks and plot gambits where starting to become obvious, even predictable. I wondered if he knew how to steer his creation, this mysterious universe to a satisfactory close, one that didn’t crap out in cliche, or end in sheer meaningless mystery. I will say that this book is the least-well crafted of the three, the least taunt. It’s still great though, and I it is rare for me to rush out and finish a trilogy, especially a science-fiction/gothic horror one at that.

The message and meaning of the Southern Reach Trilogy is surprisingly profound, surprisingly metaphysical and relevant. Science fails utterly to deliver results about “Area X.” This inability to nail down and find a human meaning or language or system to Area X is one of the defining themes of the book. The efforts of secretive bureaucracies – the sinister Central – to above all else control everything and everyone become vicious, Kalfkaesque and self-defeating.

This is a great series, definitely in line with Murakami, Lovecraft and Poe.


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