MixedThe Washington PostFrida isn’t much of a heroine. She’s annoying, self-centered and tragically naive. She and her husband, Cal, have fled the ruins of Los Angeles in the wake of earthquakes and financial collapse … Lepucki has armed her novel with a stunning twist, and its fallout is thrilling. Beyond that, the book’s critique of our culture’s ridiculous back-to-the-land fantasies is amusing. Yet some of her choices are less convincing … Still, Frida’s self-absorption has its uses: For one, it allows Lepucki to detail the minutiae of survivalist life. Until they join the Spike People, who have access to a surprising range of consumer goods, getting clean is impossible, and fungi are free to flourish. ‘Even her knees had smelled.’ Selfishness also means self-preservation, which is a kinder interpretation of Frida’s immaturity.
RaveThe Washington PostAnnihilation is successfully creepy, an old-style gothic horror novel set in a not-too-distant future. The best bits turn your mind inside out … Like the expeditions that preceded them, this group does not fare well. ‘We were scientists, trained to observe natural phenomena and the results of human activity,’ the biologist says. ‘We had not been trained to encounter what appeared to be the uncanny.’ And as in a classic work of horror, the ‘monster’ they find inside the tower-tunnel is not even as terrifying as the biologist’s discovery that almost everything she had been told about Area X was fundamentally untrue.