The finale of author Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach” trilogy, “Acceptance,” has been published, and critics are mainly praising the third book and the series in general.
VanderMeer published the first book in his series, “Annihilation,” in February of this year. As we previously reported, his publisher, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, embraced an unusual publication strategy for the series, releasing the second book in the trilogy, “Authority,” in May and the final book on Sept. 2. The series begins by focusing on a group of female scientists who are sent into the mysterious Area X. Previous expeditions to the area had very varied outcomes. Some groups came back with stories of a beautiful landscape, while others reported member suicides and even murder.
Reviews of the first and second books of the “Southern Reach” trilogy were mostly positive, and now many critics are praising the third installment, “Acceptance,” as well as the trilogy as a whole. NPR critic Jason Sheehan said “Acceptance” has a “strange brilliance," though he warned those expecting concrete answers about the story that "you're going to be angry. You're going to feel cheated out of the catharsis that is supposed to come with finishing a great series of books. But I advise you to just roll with it.... [K]now that, as the days pass, the book will hang with you. It will haunt you, passages coming to you while you walk down the street or sit on the train. You will work through the multiple perspective, character and voice shifts and, slowly, accept that 'Acceptance' is maybe the truest title ever given a book."
Of the series as a whole, he wrote, “If the guys who wrote 'Lost' had brought H.P. Lovecraft into the room as a script doctor in the first season, the 'Southern Reach' trilogy is what they would've come up with."
Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly writer Madison Vain called the book “an excellent, intriguing, and challenging end” to the series and Adam Roberts of the Guardian wrote that the second book “drags a little” but that “Acceptance” “recaptures the eerie momentum of the first volume…. 'Acceptance' in particular is full of beautiful descriptions of the natural environment…. Finding a way satisfactorily to pay off so much mysteriously tense apprehension is no small challenge for a writer – and VanderMeer manages to avoid banality and opacity both, and generates some real emotional charge while he's about it…. This is genuinely potent and dream-haunting writing."
And Publishers Weekly called the finale “an enigmatic but satisfying conclusion…. The pacing of the narrative is slower, but the reader will want to move slowly so as not to miss any of the more subtle occurrences or psychological insights. By the time the book is finished, the reader knows that this trilogy is that rare thing – a set in which the whole is as great as the parts.”