Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

Tense, claustrophobic, and dreamlike, a Lovecraftian tale as told by Borges.

Reminded me a bit of Lost with the exotic location, the exploration of a place where strange things happen. Also because it frustrated me like Lost did, introducing mysteries and building tension that it had no intention of resolving.

Three things about writing I learned from it:

  • Repeating flashbacks in the middle of a mystery narrative can backfire. If you’ve built up enough tension in the main story, the flashbacks will be an annoyance, an obstacle for readers to overcome.
  • Beware clinical detachment in the narrator. It’s ok for a chapter or two, but over the length of a novel it drains any concern the reader might have for them.
  • If you can remove half the narrative and your story still makes sense, consider leaving it out.

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