cover image Acceptance


Jeff VanderMeer. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $15 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-374-10411-5

The concluding volume of VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy (after Annihilation and Authority) brings each of the series’s narrative threads together for an enigmatic but satisfying conclusion. In Annihilation, a single survivor from one of exploratory expeditions to Area X discusses her experiences, a portion of the southern U.S. that has become inexplicably isolated from the rest of the world and from which few visitors return. Authority, the second volume, is a conspiratorial tale about the highly secretive Southern Reach, the organization that, in theory, is attempting to uncover the secrets of the Zone. The story is related by its newly appointed director, Control, who, like many of the characters in the earlier books, reappears in Acceptance. Others about whom we have heard earlier also pop up, including Saul Evans, the lighthouse keeper, who was one of the first to experience the Zone. The third book begins with another expedition as a team reenters Area X in search of a lost member. In many ways, this is the most mysterious and puzzling book of the three: VanderMeer employs multiple flashbacks and POVs, which contribute to a multifaceted, mutating portrait of Area X. The pacing of the narrative is slower, but the reader will want to move slowly so as not to miss any of the more subtle occurrences or psychological insights. By the time the book is finished, the reader knows that this trilogy is that rare thing—a set in which the whole is as great as the parts. Agent: Sally Harding, Cooke Agency. (Sept.)