Annihilation

Hey Booklovers!

How’s your month going so far? In terms of reading it’s been terrible for me. I haven’t been able to catch up much with both the books am currently reading – Eliza and her Monsters and The woman in the Window. I find them both to be slow and dragging. Not hooking me enough. But for today am back with another movie review!

Yes. It’s a book turned into a movie. Annihilation based on the book of the same name by Jeff Vandermeer. I have reviewed the trilogy under the name Area X on my site. Do check it out here.

Coming back to the movie. I loved it. Purely on the basis of turning books to movies. Usually they fall flat on your face but this one was done tastefully. It wasn’t so much as trying to redo the whole book but taking elements of it and taking a completely different approach to it.

So this is the gist of the movie:

Lena is waiting for her husband Kale who is in the military, he has been gone for an year on a secret mission and she doesn’t know if he will ever come back but he does. Suddenly and literally out of nowhere. But his comeback is short. He suffers seizures and is admitted immediately in the same facility he was working for. This time Lena is interested in working for the facility in hopes of rescuing her husband.

This ‘facility’ is the headquarters of Area X, an unidentified phenomenon that occurred three years ago, situated in the Southern Reach. A team of five women are deployed to enter “The Shimmer” including Lena. What they uncover is the rest of the story.

For someone who has read the books it’s obvious there are a lot of changes. For one, there are no names in the first book and everything has been reinterpreted for visual purposes.

I found the camaraderie so much better between the team members which was sorely missing in the book. (On a side note they reminded me of Ghost Busters in their get up and attire!) Lena is much stronger than she is in the book. Even has military background. They all talk like normal team members are supposed to unlike in the book which is filled with small talk and suspicion.

The book invokes a feeling of dread despite nothing happening in it but the movie felt more calm yet unnerving. That’s the beauty of Area X. There is no mention of a topographic anomaly in the movie (nor the lighthouse keeper), only the lighthouse is important.

The climax was weird, the dance between Lena’s double was creepy and a bit confusing as to what’s going on – at least to me. But the ending was satisfactory, for a lack of better word. It could have been worst but it makes do with what it has.

Overall the movie can be watched even if you haven’t read the book which is awesome and the gist of the book is all in there. Strong performances from the lead Natalie Portman and Oscar Isaacs. The psychologist nailed her character (who is also the team leader) but lacked screen time I guess. I wanted to see more of her. The other three were adequate. The movie is good on its own.

Bibliogyan rating – Must watch for sci-fi fans. Watch it for something new and different.

Ready Player One – The Movie

Hey Booklovers! Recently I finally caught up to watching Ready Player One movie based on Earnest Clines novel of the same name.

I couldn’t stop raving about the book which was so detailed and where the world building was fascinating. It’s not every time I get to read a book so engrossing and adventurous at the same time. It’s a book I would love to read over and over again. But the movie? Not so much.

The movie is completely different from the book. In a good way of course. For those who haven’t read the book (highly recommended) it maybe perfectly alright as it is but otherwise it’s a let down. At least for me.

Yes, there were the same names, same worlds, same story but the quest was different. And what was that video archive in the library? Somebody is actually recording all this? Was technology that great between the 90s till the events of the book? That was a horrible thing to add in the movie.

The acting is nothing great. They do their part. But I couldn’t find myself invested in the characters like I did in the book. Sure for legal reasons you had to change a lot of things in the book and add news ones. But it was very rushed and kinda taken for granted. One of the Co-screen writers was the author himself who salvaged what he could but if you love the book this is gonna be a disappointment.

For someone who hasn’t seen the movie here’s the gist of it:

It’s the year 2045. The world has changed rapidly. For better and for worse. Poverty, famine and environmental disasters loom large yet technology has made leaps and bounds. One such technological marvel is the Virtual reality programme called the Oasis. It lets you immerse yourself in another world where you can be anything you want. Enter our hero Wade Watts aka Parzival.

He narrates a story about the creator of Oasis – James Halliday who is now dead and has left his entire fortune as well as the ownership of Oasis itself to the one who will complete three quests to find the Easter egg.

To reach this you must find three keys and unlock three equally difficult riddles. It’s been ages, five years to be precise, and nobody has cracked anything yet. But Parzival finally gets it and our journey starts from there. How does he find the next two keys forms the rest of the story with a very convincing villain in IOI who thwarts their every step mainly Parzival and his friends – Aech, Art3mis, Sho and Daito.

All the pop culture reference in the movie is a way to find the egg by Halliday who was a big fan of the 80s. There is a scene taken from The Shining that is so convincing and unbelievable at the same time. It was seriously out of the world even if it was in a movie to watch it happen like that. To me this was the highlight of the movie about Virtual reality. Imagine if you could be a part of it for real like right now. Just Wow.

So was it a good experience? Yes. Steven Spielberg makes sure you have a great movie experience but was it a good book adaptation? A big NO. They rarely are. But it’s fun for what it is. Pure cinema entertainment.

Bibliogyan ratings – Enjoy with a large tub of popcorn but get back and immerse yourself in the book for the real experience 🤗

AREA X – The Southern Reach Trilogy #7#8#9

southern-reach

Hey BookLovers. The book that am going to review today for you is the Southern Reach Trilogies namely – Annihilation, Authority and Acceptance. All by Jeff Vandermeer.

Now I read these books separate, and not the combined hard cover one which I wished I knew before I brought three separate books. Am a hardcover book junkie. Anyhoo, the setting that takes place in the books are called the Southern Reach and its supposed to be somewhere in Florida, USA. The first book was recently made into a movie starring Natalie Portman which am yet to see but is the reason I discovered the series in the first place.I took my time to read all the books and the first one blew my mind.

Annihilation was really captivating. It starts with four members (All women) on an expedition in an area that has been altered or changed three decades ago that has come to be known as Area X. Many expeditions has been sent forth since by the headquarters situated in the Southern Reach. We are introduced to the narrater – The Biologist who comes across rude, antisocial and boring? But thats what makes her apart from the others in the group namely the psychologist, the surveyor and the anthropologist. They belong to the twelfth expedition of the ongoing research of Area X. The interesting part here is the fact that the biologist is the wife of the now deceased member of the eleventh expedition. This is the only time a relative of a former member has been sent on an expedition and that itself is exciting to see what possibilities can happen.

Now Area X is a mysterious place where once was a lighthouse on a forgotten coast. Nobody that has gone inside has ever come back intact or none at all. The members of the eleventh expedition who came back all died of cancer within months.

The synopsis to the 1st book is as follows:

“Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilisation. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.”

Now the tone of the book is disturbingly creepy as is meant to be. Its part science fiction and part weird fiction. The atmosphere the author creates is extremely tangible. I felt like I was there watching it all happen right through my eyes and even though the place is as normal as possible nothing is as it seems. The good thing about the first book is that its only a hundred and ninety five pages. Since I was enjoying the book I took two days to read it. Maybe because of the page count I wanted to read more, know more.

The author makes us extremely curious as to whats going on. There is a lot of mention regarding the lighthouse, an island and the most important one – a topographic anomaly. what I disliked about the book – but maybe its deliberate – is how a group of people who are supposed to be working together never trusted one another. Its one thing not to have your real name in the expedition for fear of whatever previous expeditions has taught them but so much mistrust and lack of communication was kind of frustrating. The first book leaves us with many unanswered questions but nevertheless is a satisfying ending, which would have not required any sequel either. But thats where the next book comes in.

Authority. This part of the book deals with the headquarter or the government agency situated near the border to Area X in Southern Reach. We meet the new protagonist, John Rodriguez – (the new director for startling reasons as we come to discover) Or Control as he prefers to be called. The theme of not using names for central characters seems to be continued here. We meet the staff at the southern reach headquarters – chief among them is Grace Stevenson – the assistant director. Then mostly people from the science division. The book in all honesty was a slow torture. We are dealing with a mysterious past of Control whose mother too has worked for the southern reach, which still haunts them both. Not to mention the dull, rotting atmosphere inside the headquarters is just depressing to say the least.

Here too the theme of not trusting your coworkers is continued which is really irritating by this point. I feel like the book could have been a hundred page less out of the three hundred and forty one. It just went on and on about what – I don’t even remember, I skipped some of it because it just wasn’t interesting nor were we reaching anywhere near solving Area X. What I did like about the book was the fresh perspective. Control though not a great narrator was different from all the weird stuff that surrounded the rest of the book. There is a lot more revelation in this book but nothing that helps in coming closer to Area X. Here, the only ‘surviving’ member of the expedition – the biologist is interrogated but those scenes are just frustrating and reveals nothing the writer doesn’t want to.

There is a scene with Control and a chap from science division – Whitby that still kinda haunts me and stands out when I think about the series as a whole and it takes place in store room – you will know what I mean when you reach it. Its extremely creepy and disturbing and sums up the whole series for me. A kind of dread and its like been in a whole different time zone in an alternate reality. The book builds up a lot of terrifying possibilities which culminates in the climax. It kind of left a bitter taste in my mouth. Like it was going somewhere but stopped abruptly and is expected to just make peace with that. Which brings us to the final book.

Acceptance. The Book starts with where it all started, The forgotten coast and the light house. The lighthouse keeper that is mentioned in the first two books is given full coverage here. We see how his last few days unfolded. The Science and Seance brigade makes a come back but is still mysterious as ever. Nothing is made clear in this book. Its just out there for us to see, just as it is. This book is told in different POVs including the previous director/psychologist, the lighthouse keeper, Control and of course Ghost Bird/Biologist.

I think it serves as both a sequel and prequel since it kind of comes full circle. The book does help in understanding how it all happened but there is never a why of it and I get it. There are many stories out there without any beginning or end but what I don’t get is why certain characters just don’t make sense such as Lowry or John’s mother Jackie. The weirdo duos Henry and Suzanne. This is weird fiction at its peek and I don’t remember reading such an extreme fiction before and so was really creeped out. Many scenes involving the lighthouse keeper is just plain weird and nonsensical in a way as its meant to be. What’s real and not real? What’s the connection between S&SB and Area X. Many things are again revealed but nothing that you can make peace with. You are still wondering – ok what else?

Again the book is over long in three hundred and thirty eight pages and I didn’t have the patience to take my time to read it so I finished it in one sitting. I feel this is the most disappointing of the lot. By now you are reading only because you are deep into it and the only way out is to finish reading. The Power of Jeff Vandermeer’s writing Compels you to continue till the end. But when the end comes don’t expect any drum rolls and we are left wondering what the hell did we just read.

The book isn’t in any way apologetic for the way it is. Take it or leave it. We may never know anything about Area X, its purpose or its true origin. It may all ultimately feel pointless hence the apt title Acceptance. Sometimes I think only a master at writing can sell three books about basically nothing. Ha. But despite the disappointment, what the author has been successful in is the atmosphere, the world and the characters he created. Even now as am writing this review all I want to do is finish it, put it behind me and watch something cheerful, which is what I will be doing. And thats saying something.

Bibliogyan Rating – Read it for an out of world experience