Quick Book Reviews: Jeff VanderMeer and Emer O'Toole

10:25 am

* Despite having been on my 'to read' list for months, I was fortunate to receive an eARC of Annihilation via NetGalley and HarperCollins UK, thank you! *

Annihilation* - Jeff VanderMeer

I've been trying to construct my thoughts coherently on this book for over a month now and I'm still struggling to express just why this book is so genius. This is the first in a trilogy, The Southern Reach Trilogy, and describes an expedition (one of many in the past) venturing into the mysterious Area X. There's a biologist, anthropologist, psychologist, and a surveyor; all unnamed, all equally important and unimportant. Area X is cut off from the rest of civilization and completely abandoned, only home to mystery, disappearances, psychological breakdowns, and a whole lot of weirdness. Of the few expeditions that have returned, all with no memory of how they returned, they have suffered from cancers, untimely deaths, suicide attempts, and general breakdowns, with no known cause other than 'having been to Area X'. This most recent expedition will not end any more happily. This is one of those books for me where you finish it and feel completely shocked that a book can do what it did to you. I was scared, I was confused, and I was really, really, really weirded out. VanderMeer's imagination and ability to create such a believable, yet unbelievable, world is pretty startling, and I can honestly say I have read nothing like it before. I've picked up the next book in the trilogy, Authority, which I believe is completely different to its former in the series and massively expands the mythos that is 'The Southern Reach'. Adult dystopian for fans of weird fiction.

Girls Will Be Girls: Dressing Up, Playing Parts & Daring to Act Differently - Emer O'Toole

A humourous look into the construction of gender and what it is to be a woman in contemporary society. O'Toole balances her thoughts on gender with anecdotes from her less-than-open-minded-about-feminism past, which I found refreshing. We all start somewhere, and that place isn't always something we want to relate our present selves to. She knows she used to 'not care' about women's rights and their freedom to do what they want in order to please the men around her and 'fit in'. She knows people go through this. It's normal. It's the way society works. I really enjoyed Emer's commentary on gender but I do wish there was a bit more on the transgender community. It seems obvious to talk about trans-women and -men when discussing the deconstruction of what gender is, but I can only remember her spending a page or two on this topic. 

M x

P. S. My mum borrowed Girls Will Be Girls and really enjoyed it too.

P. P. S. I bought one of my friends Annihilation for Christmas because I bloody loved it so much. No, they don't read my blog. Sorry to let you down if you're my friend and reading this. It's not you.

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