Fuminori Nakamura’s My Annihilation is a mind-bending story about hypnosis, brainwashing, regrets, and what it means to be human. Like another of his books, The Thief, the story is an engaging slow walk in a criminal world as the reader is led through masterfully crafted suspense.
The book opens with a confessional manuscript on a desk. It warns: “Turn this page, and you may forfeit your entire life.” The protagonist reads on anyway, as the papers tell the story of a sad man with dangerous aggression. The protagonist can’t make himself stop reading, even as someone is approaching. Only when the protagonist is kidnapped by a psychologist does the real story begin.
The reader is constantly left to question the identity of the protagonist, and the validity of his memories as Nakamura builds a web of hypnosis and mystery. The writing is so skillfully crafted that a reader never feels totally lost, even as each chapter completely changes what you thought you knew. Every chapter leaves a shock, but the twists build so well nothing feels like it comes out of nowhere. The psychology involved in the book is well researched and implemented so well that I couldn’t help questioning my own memories for just a second after I stopped reading each night. This story is filled with layers of psychology, terror, and love that will stick in your mind long after you’ve finished the novel. It is truly chilling throughout, and heartbreaking in the end.
The warning at the beginning of the manuscript, “turn this page, and you may forfeit your entire life,” feels true for the book itself, as something feels changed after finishing it. But, like the protagonist, I was unable to stop reading. My Annihilation is a terrifying and unpredictable work that is a must-read for any thriller fans.