The conclusion to The Southern Reach trilogy left with mixed feelings. The first two books were intensely gripping and dream inducing which permeated with a sense of both wonder and foreboding. Each book was told from a single character’s perspective and laid out individual pieces of a much bigger and complex puzzle.
In the final book we get a number of different perspectives. We start with the lighthouse keeper, Saul Evans, who we have learned previously is somehow intrinsically linked to the events leading up to the creation of what has become known as Area X. We also get the story of the former Director of The Southern Reach, who was replaced at the beginning of the second book. And we learn the fates of our first two narrators; The Biologist/Ghostbird and Control.
Unfortunately the finale lost me. The jumping around of perspectives watered down the moodiness and sense of dread that Jeff VanderMeer so carefully built-in the first two books. There were moments of abject wonder but the tone and foreboding fizzled out. After creating something seemingly unexplainable and slowly trying to explain it there were still more questions than answers by the end. I love an ending full of ambiguity but I felt more lost than when I started.
But maybe that was the point. VanderMeer’s trilogy had a great environmental theme running through it. The power of the environment to fight back and the various weapons it could deploy and the power it could harness; light, camouflage, adaptation, mutation, and the limited resources we have to actually fight back. But then other elements and possibilities were added to the mix which, for me, diluted what could have been a really great sci-fi trilogy.
Classification: Science fiction
Format: Paperback (216mm x 135mm x mm)
Imprint: Fourth Estate Ltd
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publish Date: 2-Sep-2014
Country of Publication: United Kingdom