Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer


Rate: 2/5

Medium: Kindle

Overview (No Spoilers):

As the conclusion of the Southern Reach Trilogy, I had such high hopes for Acceptance to answer the exorbitant quantity of questions laid out in the first two novels. I loved the mysterious aspect of the first novel in the series, Annihilation, however after expending the effort to finish the trilogy, I would hope that my analytical mind would be granted some satisfaction as the complex jigsaw puzzle fell finally into place. Alas, I ended up feeling as though I was a member of a delusional hallucination in which only the key characters fully understood or comprehended the key points, leaving the reader with a feeling of being excluded from the big ‘aha moment’ that appeared so gratifying for the aforementioned characters.   While I’ll likely chalk my current level of disappointment up to having only finished this book an hour or so ago, I doubt that my overall feeling will waiver much following a good night’s sleep. Now the positives: Some answers were revealed, in a slow drawn out process I might add. Also, I was excited with the two new POVs debuted in Acceptance, which acted to shed light on both the Director/Psychologist from the Biologist’s expedition and the Light Keeper (Saul Evans). Overall, having first thoroughly enjoyed Annihilation, I found myself rather disappointed the Southern Reach Trilogy as a whole due to that rather pesky pattern of exposing more questions than answers revealed.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • Who painted the map in the Director’s house after her disappearance?
  • What was the significance of the height marks on the Director’s office map that was hidden to the dead-end door?
  • One of the new POVs that we are treated to was that of the Lighthouse Keeper, Saul Evans, which takes place prior to the emergence of Area X and the boarder. He interacts in almost every chapter with individuals from S&SB, which I’m assuming was a precursor of Central. The two scientists are very strange and every conversation builds confusion and tension. It was still never really identified as to why they were so interested in the light source. Why were they drilling it? When Saul walked in on them and another woman performing some sort of ritual, what were they doing and who was the strange woman? Also, with that being said, why couldn’t Grace or the Director find anything on Henry or Suzanne on records of S&SB. What does Jack’s Grandpa have to do with S&SB?
  • As Saul’s story progressed, it digressed slowly into more and more confusion, similar as to in the other books when characters were under hypnosis. It started for him when he became ‘infected’ by Area X by the shining white flower. We see this flower emerge again from the flower that the Director and Whitby bring back with them from Area X. There’s a third reference to the white flower in the room holding the journals at the end of the book. What does it signify?
  • How did all the journals end up in the room and who wrote all of them since it is documented that they all couldn’t come from the expeditions?
  • Seriously, what is the big deal with the cell phone? How did Whitby’s dead mouse end up with the plant? What happened to Whitby after Area X encompassed the Southern Reach.
  • We also find out that the creature that made so much racket in the night for the biologists team in Area X was in fact the psychologist from her husband’s expedition who had transformed to the said creature.
  • I loved the quote, “People who asked questions didn’t necessarily like being asked questions.” So very true!
  • In the second novel, Control makes repeated comments about the overwhelming citrus smell. Please correct me if I’m wrong but was there any resolve to this sticking point?
  • Another new POV is that of the Director, specifically we learn about her childhood in the area currently occupied by Area X and about her clandestine adventure into Area X with Whitby. Did Whitby really encounter his clone? Did the cloned version or the real one survive? Why did the ‘dead’ Whitby have the plant and the cell phone? Was it to bring them out into the real world to ‘infect’ it?
  • Who was putting up the ‘markers’ for Ghost Bird and Control signifying the location of the ruined tents, and the dead moaning creature or left the boat to the island?
  • Was the marmot at the end of the book Control transformed?
  • Why did Grace shoot Ghostbird in the tunnel? How did she survive? What was the point of them going down in the tunnel to confront the Crawler if they just reemerged to travel some more?
  • Lowry’s character was so strange and I feel like we never quite resolved his weirdness. What did actually happen during his expedition?
  • I really thought Gloria’s letter would be something more profound than just a letter to Saul.
  • I loved the Saul and Charlie dynamic. What happened to Charlie?
  • Was the Owl actually the biologist’s husband?

Vocabulary Builder:

Hegemony: preponderant influence or authority over others

Dint: Force; Power

Querulous: habitually complaining

Ancillary: subordinate; subsidiary

Fecund: fruitful in offspring or vegetation

Ziggurat: an ancient Mesopotamian temple tower consisting of a lofty pyramidal structure built in successive stages with outside staircases and a shrine at the top; also :  a structure or object of similar form

Emplacements: the situation or location of something; a prepared position for weapons or military equipment

Beatific: having a blissful appearance

Paradigm: a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated

Jocularity: said or done as a joke

Laconic: using or involving the use of a minimum of words; concise to the point of seeming rude or mysterious

Garrulous: given to prosy, rambling, or tedious loquacity :  pointlessly or annoyingly talkative

Gottal: of, relating to, or produced in or by the elongated space between the vocal cords




  1. I agree that the ending was sort of maddening, but I loved all of the mystery that it created…sort of like Vandermeer just wanted us to fill in the textual gaps ourselves to create a richer mystery…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s