Review: Authority (Southern Reach #2) by Jeff VanderMeer

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The bone-chilling, hair-raising second installment of the Southern Reach Trilogy

After thirty years, the only human engagement with Area X--a seemingly malevolent landscape surrounded by an invisible border and mysteriously wiped clean of all signs of civilization--has been a series of expeditions overseen by a government agency so secret it has almost been forgotten: the Southern Reach. Following the tumultuous twelfth expedition chronicled in Annihilation, the agency is in complete disarray.

John Rodríguez (aka "Control") is the Southern Reach's newly appointed head. Working with a distrustful but desperate team, a series of frustrating interrogations, a cache of hidden notes, and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, Control begins to penetrate the secrets of Area X. But with each discovery he must confront disturbing truths about himself and the agency he's pledged to serve.

In Authority, the second volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, Area X's most disturbing questions are answered . . . but the answers are far from reassuring.


Authority was not really the story I was expecting, but I loved it! It was one of those stories where I wanted to read it as fast as I could to see what happens, but also as slow as possible to savor it. Oh, I can't wait to see what the next installment has in store for us!

Authority is the story of Control, the new director of the Southern Reach. Control was a bit strange, a bit...he is hard to describe. Something odd is going on at the Southern Reach, everyone who is working there is a bit odd, and Control is trying to figure out what is happening. Why the last director let everything fall apart. He doesn't know much going into his job, which was partly planned so that he could come in with a fresh set of eyes. Central is trying to figure out what happened out here, but things are strange. Control tried to get answers from people and they don't always give them. At least not directly. He finds some strange things in the director's office, some people are openly hostile towards him, some people just act odd and he doesn't know why. Things are a bit of a mess, but he is determined to figure it all out. To get the people he is interviewing to cooperate even if they don't want to. It was a really interesting read. You do learn a bit more about the pristine landscape of Area X and some of the ways they have been testing it over the years. 

Like with the last book I don't want to give too much away so I can't say much about the story itself. The entire book is told from Control's point of view, but like with the Biologist in book one, it might not be completely reliable. Control seems to go in and out or reality a bit, his mom and family situation growing up were a bit off, everything is very odd. I loved it. Book one was a bit dry and clinical and this book is more dreamlike. It feels like you are in this weird dream state for most of it. I am glad we got to go into the company behind the expeditions into Area X with a clean slate. To learn along with Control what is going on. It was a lot of fun and not as creepy as the first book, but definitely had its moments. The end sets up the next story nicely and I can't wait to dive right in. 

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★1/2


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