Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer. ★★★1/2
Acceptance is the final book in the Southern Reach trilogy, which starts with Annihilation. You definitely need to have read the prior books before picking up Acceptance. This review will also contain some inevitable spoilers for the previous two books.
Acceptance switches between four different POVs. The ongoing narrative is continued by Ghost Bird and Control, who are traveling within Area X. The other two POV sections are flashbacks, focusing on the former Director and the lighthouse keeper, Saul Evans.
As the final book in the trilogy, Acceptance had a lot riding on it. Would there be any answers as to Area X? Would there be an actual conclusion. The answer is both yes and no. Some more information is revealed, but the end itself is very vague whereas I would have liked it to be more concrete. The fates of the characters were left unresolved, and questions still linger. For instance, what is the relationship between Area X and names? This last book doesn’t feel like it’s the end of a trilogy – there’s just not enough resolution for that.
Or maybe Vandermeer is saying that Area X is ultimately unknowable, beyond the influence of humankind and that the only logical path is to accept the change being wrought on the world. However, if that’s the case I still would have liked some resolutions for the characters themselves. I also think that there hints at the end that something may have changed, but results were never shown.
Possibly one of the problems was that the few answers that were provided were mostly given through the flashbacks. Until the very end, Control and Ghost Bird honestly don’t do a whole lot.
While Acceptance had less of the sense of creeping unease I’d felt with the prior books, it was still very well written. The prose may have ended up being the highlight of this series.
Acceptance wasn’t wholly satisfying, but I still enjoyed this trilogy. However, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone looking for concrete answers to the many mysteries this trilogy raises.