A reviewer on BookLikes referred to Annihilation's story as having an overall quality of uneasiness and the reader possibly being intentionally misinformed about what was true or not (at least that was the gist I got). Something my beta-reader referred to as "the unreliable narrator". A so-so rating was given, but boy it had me intrigued. I added this title to my want list and it kept calling to me---usually an infatuation with a novel's premise dies away after a few days, but not this one. Four female team members known only by their job titles go into an isolated place called Area X to research it. They are the 12th team and are made up of an anthropologist, a surveyor, a psychologist, and a biologist, who is our narrator. Previous teams have committed suicide, killed each other, or just plain failed. The storytelling is described by reviewers as surreal or dreamlike. Could this end up a frustrating read? Possibly.
I'll have to say it fits my sensibilities perfectly. Yes, it is indeed creepy. Yes, there's ambiguity and unexplained moments and things present, but the biologist acts as our clear-eyed guide. One wonders why these sensible characters decide to join a team with a high risk factor and then we learn why. But that inability to know more is what contributes to the unease. The biologist knows only so much and like a very good scientist, observes as truthfully as possible. However, she might withhold some information (until later). And she has to discover when she has been misinformed herself. I admit, I had a tolerance for the anxiety/unease possibly because of films like Cube 2: Hypercube, where several strangers are trapped in a dangerous environment with no memory of how they got there. What a stressful film. This is nearly the same situation. The use of language or phrasing is also meant to throw us off, like the line from the psychologist that I've screenshot from my Kindle.
"Paralysis is not a cogent analysis?"---what the heck is that supposed to mean? After realising later that it didn't really mean anything (I think), but like the biologist says, was meant to be a hypnotic command only, I've decided it was a bit of deliberate misdirection on the writer's part. It's a very nice illusionist trick and it works. Make us take that literally and unsettle us, do a David Lynch. Make us watch the words on the wall just as something grabs our ankle.
The ending: no spoiler, but I got the answer needed, I accept the theory given. It's still rather surreal, and it may not satisfy. I can't say that the physical resolution gave me the wow-pow in the gut and brain I'd hoped for, but it will do. Maybe Jeff VandeMeer does it in the next books. I'm not that interested in following up, but I could be missing out.