Authority: A Novel - Jeff VanderMeer

Authority (Southern Reach #2)


Jeff VanderMeer, 2014


Area X - a mysteriously pristine landscape with an invisible border that disappears anyone who touches it - has been the target of a series of expeditions over the past thirty years. Unfortunately, after twelve expeditions, the government agency known as Southern Reach is no closer to understanding this place than they were when it first appeared. Now John Rodrigues - aka "Control" - is appointed head of Southern Reach, and he is determined to not only figure out the secret of Area X, but also the secrets of the former head - a psychologist who inserted herself into the twelfth expedition and never returned. But Control soon realizes that not only are there more secrets being kept than he was initially aware of, but the answers might be better left uncovered.



This was a very different book than Annihilation was. The setting of the first book was Area X itself, and I found that book - while confusing and a little creepy - to have a much more interesting plot. The book cover of Authority compares the first book to an expedition novel (like Jurassic Park) and the second to a spy novel (like James Bond). I mostly agree with this assessment... except that where James Bond usually has a lot of action and intrigue mixed in with a little bit of boring exposition, Authority contains a lot of exposition and a little bit of action and intrigue. At just under 350 pages, it felt a lot longer than that, and really could have benefited from losing 50-75 pages. 


That being said, there were things I really liked about this book. I liked Control - I thought that he was a good character to be following throughout the book... just as clueless as the reader was, since he was new to the job, and just as confused as the secrets began to come out. I enjoyed his interactions with the biologist, and I wish there had been more of those scenes and less of the scenes of him cleaning out the psychologist's office. The few action bits that there were were good and the creepy scenes were incredibly well done - especially the scene in the room above the closet (*shiver*). I just wish it had been more of that. More like Annihilation.


I am looking forward to reading the final book in the trilogy - Acceptance. The way book two ended definitely suggests a very interesting conclusion to come. My hope is that it's a little more like the first book was, although, the way things are going, it will probably be something completely different than either one. Either way, though, there are still a lot of questions that haven't been answered, and I'm definitely curious to find out the answers.