Acceptance

acceptance-fsg

Third and final book!

This one spins outward to encompass a wide range of characters, shifting POV and timeframe and place. We see old events from new eyes and new eyes on old characters, and we even spiral back all the way back to before it even began.

There’s a number of angry reviews of this one out there, complaining it didn’t explain itself in the end. I find this curious because there are a great many answers here – some are more implied than others, but they fit together pretty easily and it’s explicit about the central answer of what caused the transformation. If anything, it had far more answers than I needed, though it handled the revelations quite well.

This one, I think, fully departs horror despite containing a lot of it. There are enjoyably horrible events within it – a watching sky, the depiction of the epicenter, the uselessness of containment, self-murder, the purpose and lack of purpose behind it all – but by and large it’s about different people trying to make sense of or simply make peace with what’s happening, and as whole you find out quite a lot about how things work without it searing your brain. Even the characters are all moving forward for answers, and the reader at a further step removed has no fear of what they’ll discover. This is a bleak setting, but not, as handled, a terrifying one. (Quite mineable for creepy ideas to throw at people in new contexts, though!)

2 Comments

  1. Act says:

    So many thoughts.

    I thought the book did a good job of giving the answers it wanted to. Sick Land may have tried to have things tie together more, but it’s success rate was much lower. In the end things like whether the world as a whole had changed didn’t matter so much; I think a lot of people likely wanted a neater ending that was more clearly Good or Bad.

    (I will say that I was hoping for Control’s doppelganger to show up in front of Grace and Ghost Bird at the end, with the implication that he and Ghost Bird would be the start of a new type of human race.)

    But all in all a lot of the remaining questions didn’t really need answers. How the sliver got into the lens isn’t as important as the fact that it did; what was on the other side of the tower door wasn’t as important as the fact that Control’s passing through it changed the whole world irrevocably.

    I was a bit confused about the cell phone thing — was the implication that Lowry was a doppelganger, fucking with the expeditions for Area X’s benefit?

    I really liked how after being first an unrepentant evil in Annihilation and then as some kind of weird deity to the Reach in Authority, we got to see the psychologist from her own perspective. I thought that was done really well.

    I think the genre of this one is much more of psychological thriller than horror, though obviously, yeah, the scene of the bar when Area X happens are straight horror.

    Perhaps the most impressive thing about the series was not just its diversity but how none of its diversity matters. A lot of the time representation tends to become a tokenism clusterfuck, where every time someone comes up we have to break the fourth wall to talk about their social justice points, but this book may be the first time I’ve so successfully scene people just be characters. A description of Grace as a black woman is just there so we can picture her the way the author does.

    I honestly don’t think I’ve ever really seen this before, where there’s no racism or sexism or homophobia because there’s just no way for it to get traction; there are too many different people in too many different story roles for those things to coalesce.

    Frankly I’d go as far as to say this series is one of the best things we’ve done on the blog once everything, from the writing to the plot to the social elements, are taken into account. It was the kind of thing that makes me feel like the next thing I pick up is going to leave me disappointed no matter what.

    1. Farla says:

      I was a bit confused about the cell phone thing — was the implication that Lowry was a doppelganger, fucking with the expeditions for Area X’s benefit?

      My best guess is he’s not a doppelganger (I think it has a big learning curve there, and I think it needed the biologist to complete its understanding of us) but was allowed to escape or even carried out because of what he’d take back with him, both in terms of mimicked items and his own tampered brain. We know it can fuck up originals too. Also it seems fitting that in a story like this that even if you can rule out someone being a doppelganger, they may still have been subverted and you can never know.

      I honestly don’t think I’ve ever really seen this before, where there’s no racism or sexism or homophobia because there’s just no way for it to get traction; there are too many different people in too many different story roles for those things to coalesce.

      I know, it was so wonderful! Like, okay, this is a story about all-devouring super cthulhu who even death can’t save you from, but also it was so nice. Even the assholes were such nice assholes. There was horror where there was supposed to be horror, there was irritation where there was supposed to be irritation, and there was no “but for realism’s sake this character MUST use slurs” to get in the way of that!

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