11 May 2014
Authority by Jeff VanderMeer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is fast becoming one of my favorite stories period, never mind stories in the weird genre.
I talked before about how great Annihilation was, and I'm not going to say Authority is better, because it's hard to compare the two. I found Authority to be engaging not only because of how it built on the mysteries first presented in Annihilation, but also about how it made the overall banality of normal drudgery equally weird and creepy. Authority takes place almost entirely within the confines of whatever offices or home bases the Area X project is centered out of, dealing with debriefing interviews and mystery solving projects and what have you. The madness comes into play as we delve deeper and see exactly how far some of the worst aspects of the power plays reach.
It's great because it's a shift in how the story is told. It's less matter-of-fact and detailed about the area and instead lets experiences take center stage. A lot of the bizarre things happen when we start getting a greater understanding of how deep everything runs, and it becomes clear very quickly how much the trust in what we know and see melts away.
I feel like I have to dance around a lot of what goes on here because, as a middle book, it creates as many new questions as it answers and thus makes it difficult to really go into detail as to what is going on without a lot of giveaways. This series is successful because of how deft the reveals are along the way, and how the story just sucks you in and forces you to accept what's going on in front of you, throwing enough minor curveballs along the way as to get you to not trust your own perception, much like everyone else in the book. It's been a long time since I've read something that's even come close to that before this series came along.
Long and short, this book, while different, has pushed this series out of "must read if you like weird fiction/horror" and into "everyone should just read this because it's a unique and addictive experience." Waiting until September for the final installment of this story is just terrible.
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