Saturday, August 15, 2015

Authority, by Jeff Vandermeer

Authority is the second book in the Southern Reach trilogy, and I'm reading it as part of the World Fantasy Awards for this year.  Usually second books are kind of the weak point in a trilogy, but I would say this is not the case here.  I liked this one better.

The first book, Annihilation, seemed pretty simply a horror story, told from one character's perspective and a dry character at that.  The second book introduces John Rodriguez, aka Control (apparently a childhood nickname) as the successor to the previous director of the Southern Reach.  This is something of a rehab assignment--Control has screwed up some previous ones, sometimes badly.  He is a secret agent in a line of secret agents, and has been saved for this by his mother.  Now he is thrown into the insane mess that is the Southern Reach's study of Area X.  Even a high talent would be hard pressed to succeed, but he gives it a try. 

And of course things get weirder and weirder, but I'll leave you to read about that part.  My own opinion here is that Control struggles for control, as it were, because he is a bit too human to be a good agent.  He recognizes his limitations.  He loves his cat, which is a soft spot for me.  He tries to be detached, as good agents seem to need to be, but it doesn't help him enough.  He is utterly in over his head as he tries to get information out of the biologist from the last expedition.

I give this one a solid 3 stars and look forward to the last one.  It's not the greatest thing I've ever read, but he has the weird factor going well.

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