Jeff VanderMeer creates a very realistic and at the same time foreign world in Annihilation, the first book of the Southern Reach Trilogy. The world is real. It seems to be set in contemporary times, with cell phones and no radical technology that screams future world. The premise is that an area called the Forgotten Coast, which is predominately rural, has suddenly been cut off from the rest of the world. Some type of invisible force field came down and the area became inaccessible. No one knows what happened or the fate of those behind the barrier.
The Southern Reach is the administrative body created to monitor and study Area X as it is called. This first book deals with the 12th expedition sent into Area X. The story is told from the viewpoint of The Biologist. The expedition members are referred to by their functions, not their names. As the story details the expedition from The Biologist viewpoint, we learn about the strange life forms in Area X and the byzantine administration that continues to send expeditions in Area X even after disasters.
The narration by Carolyn McCormick is very good. Although this is the first in a trilogy, it does have a rational ending. Trust me, you will want to continue. Trying to find the secret, the reason for Area X will get under your skin.