Thoughts on books, often interpreted through the high-brow prism of cartoon (read: Archer) references. Wait! I had something for this...
Feed Area X but do not antagonize it, and perhaps someone will, through luck or mere repetition, hit upon some explanation, some solution, before the world becomes Area X.
This is the story of the 12th expedition to Area X- a name which brings to mind some sort of secret government lab in the desert but which, in this story, seems more akin to Amazonian jungle ruins, or the wilderness from a Miyazaki film.
Princess Mononoke came to mind early on in the story when the narrator, who we know as the biologist (names are not a luxury permitted in Area X) describes a boar who had a "kind of electricity sparked in its eyes," and author, Jeff VanderMeer, creates an environment with the hybrid wonder of nature and a touch of something otherworldly.
Pieces of my love for this book grew from my own experiences as a scientist in the field in such a way that I am rendered a bit useless in my role as "the reviewer." I found myself deeply taken with how one's title can shape expectations and, thus, experiences with and in the environment around us.
Seeing the world through the lens of “science” can simultaneously bring you closer to and create distance from the things around you. The veil of “objectivity” created by a mist of measurement and data can dampen the emotional response- especially when it comes to fear.
The biologist's deep curiosity paralleled my own as the mysteries of Area X unfolded and I was tickled by how she (as I do at times in life) confronted things with technical language as a means of coping (terms like defensive mimicry don't garner the same reaction as "body snatchers" might).
When you are too close to the center of a mystery there is no way to pull back and see the shape of it entire.
I'm not sure that I've really relayed any information about this book. It is mysterious and wonderful- there's the constant unsettling feeling of knowing that nothing is as it seems but with face-paced acceptance of this type of phenomenological existential crisis that is necessary in order for a story (and a character) to proceed.
Looking forward to the second and third installments of the Southern Reach Trilogy (both of which are being released in 2014).