Finished the third and final part of the Area X trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer. While book 1 (Annihilation) and 2 (Authority) both have the POV of a single character, Acceptance changes the formula a bit by jumping between four different characters. i found this made it a more interesting read when compared to Authority (which had the Southern Reach headquarters as setting for most of the story).
I am a bit torn when it comes to this series. I love the idea behind it. The writing is fantastic. I like the characters. The main issue for me, is that much of the mystery is left intentionally ambiguous. If you are looking for clear cut answers, then you will not find them here. Which is fine, I guess. It has led me to re-read several portions of the books, and to reconsider my opinions on certain events. Perhaps this is another reason the author wrote the story in this fashion: It would keep the reader's perception of the story in a state of constant flux. Much like Area X itself. However, there is part of me that would have liked a few clear cut answers to some of the questions that arose while reading these novels.
Regarding character development, you are introduced to the Saul, the Lighthouse Keeper, who is probably my favorite character in this book. You also learn a bit more about the motivations of the former director of the Southern Reach (the psychologist from Annihilation). The fate of the biologist from Annihilation is revealed. Not much is done with John (Control) in this book, as the reader is shown is having a hard time dealing with Area X, and the changes that are happening to him. Ghost Bird (the biologist's doppelganger) appears to discover the answers she has sought, and I assume her story will be expanded in the coming books.
Jeff Vandermeer said that is working on details for two more Area X novels, which I will be looking forward to. I am hoping that the next book picks up directly after Acceptance, as you are left questioning the fate of two of the characters.
If I were to rate all three books, it would be like this: Annihilation > Acceptance > Authority. Annihilation can stand by itself as a solo story, which is why it is at the top.
I'll cross into spoiler territory below, these opinions may change as I reconsider some of the plot elements:
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The entity behind the creation of Area X is alien in nature, and was created by a race of beings on a distant world. The reason for it's creation is unclear. It may have been to heal their world in the event of an emergency, or to keep it pure. Or as I have been considering... the being may be "a keeper of the light", and may have been constructed of pure energy, or light.
The planet that this being was on was completely destroy in a fiery cataclysm from the sky. Perhaps a storm of asteroids or comets. A chunk of this planet was ejected into space, and after a time collided with the Earth in it's prehistoric past. There, the entity remained inert in the sand and eventually was harvested to created glass which was used in the construction of a lens. The lens of the lighthouse in Area X.
Central (could be any secret US Government agency) funds activities of the Seance and Science Brigade. A low-key way to research any leads on paranormal or potentially alien activity. A group of the S&SB members have taken special interest in the Lost Coast, and the Light House in particular. One of their members discovers something in the lens, and attempts to chip it out, knocking it free, and to the ground where it is discovered by the Saul the Lighthouse Keeper. The entity begins to regenerate itself, and ends up creating the barrier around Area X.
The entity works outside of our rules for time and space. The barrier it creates is a border in space/time. Inside Area X, time moves much faster than it does outside. This accounts for why things appear to decay so fast. The entity appears to have possibly linked or moved the area inside the border to it's home planet.
The purpose of the mutations it causes to humans who step inside is unclear. It appears to look at every part of a person, every thought and memory. And then remake them into their "true" version that can co-exist with its surroundings. In particular, the being saw Saul as a "Keeper of the Light", so when he was assimilated, he became the guard of the inverse version of the lighthouse with the light at the bottom.
I think that everything living and non-living are assimilated by the being, and eventually become a giant super organism.
At the end of Acceptance, regarding the border I think there may be a few possibilities. A) The link between Area X and the alien world was severed and the border came down. The entity giving up on rebuilding a ruined world and deciding to make Earth its new home. B) The border advanced, and more of Earth has been assimilated.
Keeping with the SciFi theme, I have selected Hyperion
by Dan Simmons as my next book.