A few weeks ago, I was supposed to meet my boyfriend in Los Angeles for the weekend. He visited his friends in Las Vegas and traveled on to Los Angeles to get a tattoo by Corey Divine. Corey Divine is a world-renowned tattoo artist who specializes in sacred geometry tattoos, and it was a dream come true for my sweetie to get some art done from him.
I, of course, jumped at the opportunity to go back out to Los Angeles (we went a few years ago and we loved it) and planned to meet my boyfriend for the weekend. He had hours and hours of tattoo time planned with Corey, so I had found a few things to do to entertain myself in the meantime. One being The Last Bookstore where I could spend hours and hours exploring and reading. We also planned to go back to Universal Studios specifically for Harry Potter World. Last time we visited Universal Studios Hollywood they were building the Harry Potter attraction, so I was BEYOND excited to go back. So excited in fact, I represented my house by getting black and yellow Hufflepuff nails and getting a lightning bolt shaved into my head (my head has been shaved for the last four or so years, so I didn’t randomly shave a lightning bolt into my head, haha – I’m not THAT dedicated). I also read Harry Potter and Philosophy (highly recommend this book for any Harry Potter fan) and rewatched ALL the Harry Potter movies.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it out to Los Angeles. I dropped my dogs off with a friend and one of my dogs got out of his harness, and ran away! I was at the airport, a half hour from boarding the plane, and got the phone call that she couldn’t find him. I decided to go to her neighborhood and try to find him because there was no way I could enjoy myself in Los Angeles not knowing where he was. I rescued him a few years ago and he was so timid, it took me almost a year for him to let me cuddle with him. To think of him in an unknown area, lost was way too much for me to handle so I had to go back and find it.
Eventually, I was able to get to him after taking the bus back to my car and driving to my friend’s house. I yelled out his name and he instantly came running out behind my friend’s shed and got into my car – it ended up being super easy to get him home safe.
And here is where Annihilation comes into play. I was super bummed that I didn’t make it out to Los Angeles for the long-awaited trip, and I then had a weekend to myself. And I wanted to fill it with things that made me happy since I was so down. And that’s when I heard about Annihilation coming out in theaters. I LOVE going to the movies. Then I heard it was a book before a movie which intrigued me even more since reading a book and watching the movie is something else I LOVE to do!
The lights dimmed and everyone was shushing each other as the movie started. I was immediately drawn into the movie – the mystery of the biologist’s husband, the questions about the Shimmer and what lies beyond, and of course what happened to the previous expeditions.
Annihilation follows a biologist, and wife, through the Shimmer into Area X. The Shimmer is an effervescent barrier that has encased a part of the coast and since it’s appearance, has created quite the mystery of its purpose. Area X is isolated from civilization, and expeditions have been sent in to make sense of the Shimmer and why it developed, but no one ever comes back out. There have been theories about what happened to the people who went into Area X – something killed them or they went crazy and killed each other.
Throughout the movie, you get a little bit more information and things spiral out of control. You follow the twelfth expedition into Area X and surprisingly, it’s all women (something I really enjoyed about this movie). Inside Area X, it’s oddly beautiful for being such a mysterious and possibly deadly environment. The biologist finds different stands of DNA creating new and not before seen organisms, which of course makes you wonder what is going on in Area X, how this impacts the human form and mind, and what is the reason behind the Shimmer.
The beauty of Area X is visually stunning, yet there is an ominous vibe throughout the entire movie. You find out very disturbing things that happened to previous expedition members, which clashes drastically with the beautiful landscape. At any moment, things can be calm and serene, and then it all transforms into a deep darkness.
The ending was very, very interesting, and I still am not sure if I totally understand it. Once again, visually stunning and the soundtrack choices added to the entire experience. It was a movie that made you feel on a deep level, question reality and reconsider what we’ve been taught is possible. Basically – I couldn’t wait to read the book.
The next day I went to my local bookstore and picked up the book. I learned that it was book one of a three book series all about The Southern Reach – Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance. I was surprised that Annihilation was only 208 pages but also excited because I could read through it quickly!
Right from the start, there were a lot of differences in the book than the movie. Jeff VanderMeer is an amazing writer who explores the human condition and creatively connects this to environmental biology. There were a lot of deep lines of thought throughout the book and in a way that I’ve never seen before, Jeff VanderMeer connects that on a cosmic level – on a cellular level, and bends your mind – challenges everything you think you know as fact. By the end of the book (and movie) your understanding of what is real changes and you realize that anything can transform – can be annihilated – to create something new. This reminds me of the Hindu philosophy of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Brahma is the creator of the Universe, Vishnu preserves the Universe, and Shiva destroys the Universe, but only to once again restart the cycle of creation, so in reality, destroying or annihilation, can be a beautiful thing.
The book was coming to an end, and I have to admit I was dreading it. But also excited there are two more books for me to read. The book was different than the movie but I’d have to admit I totally enjoyed both of them equally simply because it was more and more of Area X. The book and the movie bring a totally new perspective to a relatively stale sci-fi genre. I’d highly suggest both if you can approach it with an open mind!
P.S. – in the book, VanderMeer states the border is invisible and in the movie it is described as the Shimmer. There are a lot of other differences that I interchanged when writing about the book and movie.
Check out this awesome article: