Read The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood Online


The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God's Gardeners--a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life--has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. NowThe times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God's Gardeners--a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life--has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God's Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible. Have others survived? Ren's bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers...Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo'hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move. They can't stay locked away...By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and uneasily hilarious, "The Year of the Flood" is Atwood at her most brilliant and inventive....

Title : The Year of the Flood
Author :
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ISBN : 9781844085651
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 432 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Year of the Flood Reviews

  • Kemper
    2019-04-18 23:58

    I’m really tempted to take a cheap shot at Margaret Atwood and call her the George Lucas of literature since I was very disappointed in this follow-up to Oryx & Crake.She built an intriguing world in O&C where corporations ruled and profited through genetic engineering and gene splicing animals in a way that would give Dr. Moreau some ethical concerns. And she tied that to the devastating story of how it ended along with the tale of Jimmy (Snowman), his mad scientist friend Crake, and the woman they both loved, Oryx.The Year of the Flood centers around two women, Ren and Toby, through the course of their lives before, during and after the disaster that occurs in O&C. Tobey has been victimized by bad luck and a vicious man to end up having to hide with the God’s Gardener’s. Ren’s mother fell for one of the Gardeners and left her husband, taking Ren from the cushy corporate compound they had been living.God’s Gardeners are a green religious group led by Adam One. By taking animal rights to a peaceful extreme and tying it to Christianity, they’ve attracted a small following despite the consumerist culture around them. Adam One preaches about the Waterless Flood, a disaster that will pay back humankind for all the injustices done to the animal kingdom, and those who have read Oryx & Crake know that Reckonin’ Day is coming.Ren is eventually returned to the corporate compound life, but never forgets her time with GG or her best friend, Amanda. Tobey is surprised to find herself becoming one of the respected senior members of the GG as time passes. Neither woman knows it, but they keep brushing up against the events and people who will eventually cause the Flood. Especially Ren who’s first real boyfriend, Jimmy from O&C, breaks her heart and leaves her pining for him for the rest of the book. I was really looking forward to reading more about this culture that Atwood had described in Oryx and Crake, especially since the first book centered on the ‘elite’ types who work and live in the corporate compounds, and this was more about the rest of the people trying to live in a world turned into a biological and ecological madhouse. But after reading it, I really don’t see what the point was. Oryx and Crake did just fine as a standalone book. Giving me another version of events from an outsider’s perspective really didn’t add anything to it. More, since I knew how it was going to end, I wasn’t nearly as involved in this story as I was O&C. Plus, while O&C ended on an ambiguous note, Year of the Flood gives us resolution to that book, only to introduce a new ambiguous ending. Also, there are far too many coincidences to be remotely plausible about survivors who knew each other before the Flood constantly running into each other after the big disaster. It’s less of an apocalypse and more like a class reunion. I haven’t been this disappointed since Jar Jar Binks showed up. And I’m worried that Atwood will be releasing Special Digitally Enhanced Versions of Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood very soon. I probably shouldn’t be this hard on a book that had some great writing, but I really liked Oryx and Crake so reading this one left me feeling like I got a plate of reheated leftovers and it’s making me bitter. (I have no idea if Atwood plans to do any more books related to this story, so if she releases some kind of brilliant third book that ties all of this together and enhances the overall story, I reserve the right to change my mind about this one.)And on a humorous side note, I listened to the audio book version of this, and the song lyrics included by Atwood as part of Adam One’s sermons have been turned into some horrible post-modern Christian rock tunes. It made Creed sound good.

  • smetchie
    2019-04-03 20:48

    **update**YOU DO NOT HAVE TO READ ORYX AND CRAKE FIRST. The Year of the Flood is not a sequel even though goodreads lists it as Maddadam trilogy #2. It's more like a completely different story about the same event. There is hardly any character crossover and absolutely zero information in Oryx and Crake that you need to love/enjoy/understand The Year of the Flood.I love that this story just dumps me off in the future. Lots of things aren’t explained. It’s written as if I already know what a "violet biolet" is and have seen "Mo-Hairs" on people on the street all my life. I liked it. It made for a sort of culture shock that gave me a nice distance from this harsh new world.I've grown fearful of reading Margaret Atwood over the past few years. I adore her writing but the characters can be so awful to each other and the stories can be painful and depressing. They can make me loathe the human race and that's not me. I actually like human beings and I truly believe we're made to be good. So I was beyond pleased that this book features sweet characters with faith and heart who care for each other and their world. And Bonus!! There was just a modicum of girl-on-girl betrayal. (And really, she did have it coming.)

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez
    2019-04-03 20:51

    Throughout my adult life, every time I've set to fretting about something, if I have ever been composed of the proper combination of melancholy, apathy, and bitters to warrant the interest of my hovering mother, in a state of exasperation she always runs a line on me about perspective, about humbling myself by pondering the countless masses of people in the world who have it so much worse than me; that I should always feel grateful, and that thinking otherwise is simply being small-minded and self-obsessed. Though I agree with her in spirit, I am prone to try and win an argument for the sake of it (bad habit?), and always retort with something along the lines of "yes, let us follow that logic to its conclusion: there is only one, most saddest little person who has it the worst of all in the whole wide world throughout all of time, and only he or she is deserving of coming face-to-face with his or her reality, and finding it regrettable and sadness-worthy." This is, of course, not what she meant, but the conversation (which we have had a zillion times over the years, and which always concludes with two sets of hands in the air) always leaves me thinking about what that actual, worst-case-scenario could be. I think I have cracked it, folks: it is being a female in a post-apocalyptic scenario. Of course, everyone has it rough when left to fight for basic survival in a wasteland after being pampered and defeated by the tough-loving arms of a convenience-based, desire-inventing, force-feeding, complex society for all of their lives. Well, most everyone. Though I make fun of them for their extreme lifestyles today, some of my old buddies who turned to some mutation of a freegan, survivalist mentality and started living in improvised homes in various woodland areas would be the first people I would actively seek out if the shit really went down and I had somehow managed to survive the initial death-move. You know, the folks who actually know how to build a fire with sticks and leaves, and can tell you which berries and mushrooms are poisonous rather than edible? "Hey, guys. It's been awhile. Sorry I cracked all those 'hippie militia' jokes about you. Heh."Not fun for anyone, that whole "End of the World' thing, but man does having ladybits ever make shit worse. Not only are you shake-down-able, potentially threatening, and edible to the surviving crazies with nothing left to lose and absolutely no laws or fearful penalties or even mores governing their actions whatsoever, you are also, ummm, do I use a euphemism here? You're fuckable. Forcibly. As are men, naturally, but the threat to females is more visceral as the gender unfortunately oft-considered to be inferior, subservient, weaker, breakable, etc, particularly in the already deteriorated, woman-munching dystopia presented here before the mass deaths begin. I do not scoff at the plot twist in 28 Days Later, I find it probable. I don't judge the Man's wife in The Road for her decision to wander out into the snowstorm, I sympathize with her. The women in The Year of the Flood have it so much worse, too. Though there are elements of survival-y empowered female inspiration here, they are gratuitously punctuated by personal violations which would send a shiver down von Trier's spine.Even with gender aside, one of the recurrent nightmare themes in post-apocalyptic tales is that every human being you encounter you must fear, though your initial response may be "A human! To survive with! To communicate with! Shit, I'll even talk to him about football if it means I get to use my vocal chords!" This is ill-advised. Approach with caution. And a gun if you have one, because for some reason these post-apocalyptic tales seem to consistently contain the obstacle of a severe shortage of guns considering the limited number of surviving humans, which is unfathomable to me as an American who has spent the majority of her life in Oklahoma and Texas. In this novel, of course, that is covered by the fact that the Totalitarian Corporate Regime in thinly-veiled control of society has done massive sweeps and disarmed almost all of its citizenry decades before "The Year of the Flood", The Flood being the genetically-engineered global pandemic which is the foundation of this story.Sorry, I keep deviating from the trail, here. Being a woman on a decimated planet sucks, and that fact is one of the more glaring themes of this, the second book in what is to become Atwood's "MaddAddam Trilogy." To highlight this point, the story is told primarily from the perspective of two female survivors, women who had seen firsthand some of the scariest sides of power mixed with violence mixed with sexuality even before the world completely fell apart. I won't even go into why the human race was for the most part forcibly brought to extinction, as this is covered in the first novel, Oryx and Crake, told through the eyes of one of the main male characters who believes himself to be the remaining human on the ruins of this planet, and relates the tale of how he came to be so through a series of flashbacks. Let's just say that the fact that the girl you love and pay to bang has started banging your hotter, more sexually experienced, alcoholic "bad-boy" friend without making him pay for it may not be the best reason to...lash out on others,'re an asshole, Gene or Crake or whatever the fu...uh, yeah, that book's pretty good too, so you should just read it. Themes also addressed in both novels are the rape of the earth by technological advancement, disregard of various animal species and the almost sexualized desire for massive quantities of their flesh as meals and fancy clothes to the point of wiping them out completely and destroying their habitats (even the strippers and prostitutes in the novel wear bird, lizard, and other animal costumes as a rule, just for one example), the potential threats and miracles behind gene-splicing and other scientific attempts to 'play god', the role (or lack thereof) of spirituality in rising above ravenous earthly desires, and the overwhelming and ever-increasing threat that is the governing powers of large corporations. It's the whole "Is the human race a parasite the earth will one day cure itself of? Should some human come around and maybe help the earth along in that regard?" argument. As this novel is what Atwood refers to as "speculative fiction" rather than some completely improbable sci-fi scenario, her hand offers up a light pat rather than a shove; she seems less preachy, and more questioning. Ever the Justitia, she asks rather than says, speculates rather than feigning the prophet, weighs it all in the scales while leaving each side swinging up, down, up, down like the ticking of a pendulum. This is one of the things that I particularly love about Atwood. There is a final installment which as of now has no release date. The first two have ended--as installments are wont to do--with cliffhangers. I guess what I am feeling right now is the same thing that made me have to work until 4am at my old bookstore job just so those asshole kids could get their Harry Potter books the very second they came out. I feel almost as impatient for the next book as I do for the next season of Dexter. Damn you authors of serialized things and their shocking, open-ended finales! Also, good job!

  • Will Byrnes
    2019-04-23 17:58

    The Year of the Flood is a sequel to her 2003 book Oryx and Crake. (Those characters arrive here in the back quarter of the book) They are both set in a post-apocalyptic western nation, and explore the implications of many contemporary trends. Although I share Atwood’s concern about most of the problem sources she identifies, the book did at times feel a bit like a laundry list of the sins of the 20th and 21st centuries. Of course, some of the dynamics she portrays are eternal, battles for power, desires for fulfillment, personal searches for meaning. Atwood works multiple time lines, from year 1 to year 25 of the waterless flood, a never-fully-explained disaster that may be the result of viral infection caused by side-effects of genetic engineering. One can figure it out, but look to Oryx and Crake for further understanding. I felt that the amount of time dedicated to her characters’ youth made it feel at times like a YA novel.Her focus is on a group known as the Gardeners a green organization dedicated to preparing for the coming “flood” by returning to as natural a state as possible, recycling wherever possible, growing their own food, minimizing their impact on the environment. But human dynamics being what they are, even the greens are not immune to the sins that are a part of human nature. And anyone who has been in a political or religious organization of any sort will recognize the sort of nit-picking discussions she portrays here. I liked the book and would recommend it. Don’t expect a masterpiece like Handmaid's Tale, but Atwood's alarm signals are worth heeding.

  • Shayantani Das
    2019-04-26 20:01

    I deleted my review from 6 years ago because I don't think I understood half of what was being spoken about and just got washed away by public consensus on the book. I still think it is great, but I am sure I understand it better now and notice some glaring faults with it. As a sequel to Oryx and Crake, I remember subtle references tying it to the earlier story. Now I feel like there is nothing subtle about these references, they are so glaringly obvious, for example not only Ren but Amanda too dates Jimmy at some point in her life. One still doesn't get a clearer picture of what led Glen to his apocalyptic conclusions, was there an influence of gardener ideology or just individual agenda, and what was Jimmy's designated role in all of this. If we look at the plethora of new characters as cameras giving us a different angle view of an event from the last book, then I wonder why the book chooses to show us the same scenes instead of delving into all the aspects Jimmy's pov ignored. This minor qualm aside, the book is brilliant, it takes you out of the compound and shows you different parts of the world created by Atwood. The world building is astounding, and Toby's story is a profoundly moving narrative of grit and survival. The gardeners are an interesting bunch to explore. The layering of the two perspectives, especially when the two characters are around each other create compelling storytelling. This is such a well fleshed out world and Atwood is such a deft writer; the reader can rest assured in competent hands taking them on a guided tour through the chaos and dwell on the implications of this waterless flood.

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2019-04-27 02:09

    "Glenn (Crake) used to say the reason you can't really imagine yourself being dead was that as soon as you say, "I'll be dead," you've said the word I, and so you're still alive inside the sentence. And that's how people got the idea of the immortality of the soul--it was a consequence of grammar. And so was God, because as soon as there's a past tense, there has to be a past before the past, and you keep going back in time until you get to I don't know; and that's what God is."Animals have evaporated from the planet crushed under the dominance of the human race. Scientists have unraveled the DNA of life and are populating the world with creatures that are blends of several species. The future is about gene splitting and synthetic drugs and powerful corporations with names like CorpSeCorps have been formed around the creation of a flood of genetically mutated products. There is an addictive form of coffee called Happicuppas and an equally addictive form of a mysterious meat source burger called, with no deception, Secretburgers. There are Liobams (cross between a lion and a lamb), pigoons (creatures engineered for organ harvest), Mo'hair (sheeps with human hair),pigs with human brain tissue, rakunks (animals bred to be good pets), green haired glow in the dark rabbits, and snats (an experimental hybrid of a snake and rat). There are a genetically engineered blob-like chicken that produces only breast meat. This creature, if you can call it a creature, is the source for the popular take out food outlet ChickieNob Nubbins.The story revolves around two women/girls named Toby and Ren who at bisecting points spend time under the protective wing of The God's Gardners. A group of naturalists that are vehemently vegetarian. They are lead by Adams and Eves, differentiated by numerals, who see themselves as the beginning of the rebuilding of the Earth. Neither woman is a firm believer, but stay because the alternatives in this chaotic world are rather grim. Toby escaped from the drudgery work of a Secretburger outlet where the manager, Blanco, demands degrading acts of sexual gratification for her continued employment. Even after she escapes his clutches he continues to be a menacing presence in her life. Blanco is like the Terminator... he just won't die. He is punished for his many criminal acts by being sent into a game called Painballer where instead of paint pellets participant's weapons are loaded with an acidic compound. He survives not only one, but several campaigns into the arena and when not creating mayhem for other people he continues to hunt for Toby. Ren's mother falls in lust with one of the Gardeners and leaves her cushy position as the wife of a corporate executive to join The God's Gardeners. She takes Ren with her and when the relationship sours she takes Ren back to her father with a dramatic story of her abduction and degradation by the Gardeners. Ren later becomes a trapeze artist at a high end sex club called The Scales and Tails. The world unravels when Crake releases the Blysspluss pill that is advertised as the greatest sexual experience of your life. It activates a plague that effectively wipes a large percentage of the population off the planet. Through luck, more than skill, both Toby and Ren survive the outbreak. This book weaves around the book Oryx and Crake and is the second book in a proposed trilogy. It isn't even really a continuation of the story, but tracks over the same ground from a different perspective. We learn more background about Jimmy (the Snowman)and Glenn (Crake). I loved Oryx and Crake and this book is a shadow of O&C mainly because even though I am exposed to more elements not covered in the first book...the plot does not advance. If you liked O&C you probably should read this one. It reads fast and you will appreciate having your view of this world expanded. I believe the third book will determine how highly elevated this trilogy will be regarded. I highly recommend reading O&C before embarking on The Year of the Flood. The thing of it is Margaret Atwood is brilliant, and I have a feeling she has a wonderful surprise in store for us with the much anticipated conclusion. You will only be slightly disappointed in this book, maybe my expectations were too high for a middle book, but it is well worth the few hours of your time.

  • Fabian
    2019-04-01 21:12

    Would have been such a sin if the setting for Oryx & Crake had been wasted! So much imagination went into that particular novel that all stories parallel to Snowman’s should have the equal right to be told.In "O & C," the two strands of plot which interweave involve Jimmy/ Snowman. There was an obvious difference between the Snowman put in charge of Crake’s children & Jimmy from the past, the naïve friend of Crake, lover of Oryx. In the second helping of the MaddAddam trilogy the same two-plot braid is undertaken by its creator, the inexhaustibly amazing Margaret Atwood. Two parallel stories, one of Ren in first person, the other of Toby in third, are interchanged like the Jimmy and Snowman story lines, no doubt to keep the reader’s spark lit. It's somewhat more confusing to keep track of both similar lives than it is to concentrate on solely one. The scope widens in part two of this trilogy of "speculative fiction."There is an addition to the story told in O and C here: it talks further about the MaddAddam network, of the players involved in the creation of the plague, brilliantly referred to as the “Waterless Flood.” The panorama is complex and very original. I will venture to say, however, that the endless appeal to these both, other than pertaining to an amazing trilogy which continues what began in Oryx and Crake and is further explored in The Year of the Flood, is the embedded wit inside the horror story. (Could our Cormac McCarthy endeavor to do such a thing?)So what is there to say about consciousness in the novel? So many brains are at work here, neurons still conducive, while entire organisms are becoming extinguished. There is obviously consciousness in the survivors (although: Why do they all meet up so neatly in the last sections, converging plot lines, when devastation has assured us that chaos, not order, will reign supreme?), and life still goes on. After the end of the world, people still love and hate, suffer and forgive. Chapter 55 is the chapter on Consciousness, God: “Glenn [Crake] used to say the reason you can’t really imagine yourself being dead was that as soon as you say, “I’ll be dead,” you’ve said the word I, and so you’re still alive inside the sentence… That’s how people got the idea of the immortality of the soul--it was the consequence of grammar… Grammar would be impossible without the FoxP2 gene; so God is a brain mutation.” (316) Atwood litters upon her futuristic landscape teensy kernels of (poetic) wisdom, as hers is a world populated not only by new creatures, but by brainiac scientists and average-Joes alike. There is so much authenticity in this modern writer; the confidence she exudes in making up so SO MUCH fiction is almost... tangible. Literally fantastic!Descriptions and odd/silly classifications--this is what to look for inside Atwood’s impressive menagerie. Ans as advice to the writer/reader, and as further thoughts on consciousness and the brain, Atwood tells us to simply do the following: "Use your meat computer!" (316)

  • Violet wells
    2019-04-11 18:52

    This was my first experience of Margaret Atwood and I’m afraid I don’t really get what all the fuss is about. Perhaps this is her worst novel? The first two hundred pages, relentless exposition bereft of dramatic tension, bored me. It’s one of those novels that plays catch up – starts at year twenty-five, then goes back to year zero and works its way forward. The two narrators, a kind of everygirl and everywoman, are members of a new age travellers cult, but essentially struck me as hackneyed soap opera characters. They experience a typical concatenation of female experience, most notably disappointment in love and abuse at the hands of male vanity and privilege. But Atwood had no revelations to pass on, nothing interesting to tell me about these experiences. Not once, until the final hundred pages, did I find myself looking forward to what might happen next. Not once was I able to empathise with her characters except in the most superficial way. As storytelling it just never got my interest until perhaps the last hundred pages when we finally arrive back at the beginning and move forward. The satire seemed to me suffocating so that everything else in the novel, especially the characters, had to play second fiddle to the fusillade of very predictable jibes at contemporary culture. Compared to masters of satire like Nabokov and Amis this struck me often as childish and indulgently self-pleasuring. The writing itself was okay but again largely uninspired. Yes, there were some nice touches (most of which have since been stolen by other writers of dystopian fiction and better employed). But too often it read to me like the literary equivalent of those sci-fi films before special effects existed and ultimately failed to tick any of my boxes. I’m afraid I won’t be in any great hurry to read another Margaret Atwood novel.

  • Lauren
    2019-04-17 20:49

    Profoundly brilliant. Had I not read this directly after reading Oryx and Crake, I would have missed so many things - little nuances, passing comments made by the characters... it just enriched the earlier story and brought so much depth, context, and elegance. Like looking at the Rubin's vase optical illusion and only seeing it one way for so long, and then someone points out the other image right before your eyes. Of course, it was Ms. Atwood herself who constructed the image and slowly sheds light on it with each chapter in her books - alas, I think she has one (possibly two!) more story to tell here. Year of the Flood has two narrators - both survivors of an apocalyptic event (a "waterless flood"), and both linked from their associations with "God's Gardeners", a religious sect. The two women are of different generations but share the foundations of the Gardeners' beliefs long after they have left the group's compound. The story moves back and forth in time (before and after "The Flood"), describing the lives of the women as they move about, and how they eventually come back together after "The Flood" mentioned in the title of the book.Atwood's creation of the "Gardeners" is so fascinating - she has gathered the cult's doctrine and principles from 19th-century transcendentalism, Jain and Hindu philosophies, post-modern environmental thought, the zeal of 1970's "born-again" Christianity with a tad of Hare Krishna devotion, the apocalyptic asceticism of the Essenes, as well as the homesteading, return-to-the-land movement of post-Industrial North America. The hierarchy is based around a group of senior leaders, called the Adams and Eves. "Adam One" is the group's leader and "pastor" of sorts, because he teaches the group and is featured in several chapters in the book with some of his sermons, followed by songs that are sung by the Gardeners. (The audiobook version had all of the composed songs with accompaniment, and the songs are also available on Atwood's website.) The group canonizes scientists like Dian Fossey and Jacques Cousteau, and has feast days for St. Rachel Carson and so many other well-known luminaries in the fields of ecology, zoology, and life sciences. They also celebrate days like "Mole Day" and "Predator Day", noting the importance of food chain, the smallest creatures and their contributions, etc. I will admit, there were a few times that I just had to take a pause, Atwood "blew my mind" more than once. One of my new favorites, hands down.

  • Oriana
    2019-04-02 20:00

    I'm pretty sure that the entire concept of reading was invented so that I could consume Margaret Atwood. She is my first and always most favorite of all time ever and I love her so much I don't even know. I seriously could not read this book fast enough. I don't even like her fantasy books as much as the realist ones but I felt like I was a starving person just shoving this book into my face by the fistful. And now I want to read MaddAddam so so so so badly I might burst, but the entire internet only has one proof for sale, and it's like $40 and in goddamn Australia or something so I don't know what to do. Weep maybe? Wail and flail and gnash my teeth? Yes and yes and yes. Maybe I'll just re-read Oryx and Crake. And everything else she's ever written. Again and again, forever, amen.

  • Moira Russell
    2019-04-23 21:06

    Nowhere near as good as Oryx & Crake, sadly. But the women characters! Toby! Ren! Amanda! Pilar! I really don't think this is as much a retelling of O&C as everyone says it is; it's more a shadow cast, a mirror, a reflection in water. Female heroes instead of men; the people on the ground, in the street, instead of locked up safe in Paradice; childhood as home, sex as trade. The back of the tapestry. Loved loved loved all the details about the Gardeners, Adam One after a while, and even the sermons and hymns in the end. It didn't knock me on my ass the way O&C did, tho. But maybe I should be happy about that. Heh.Later. Further notes (no no this is not a review, not even a sketch of one) - I wasn't sure the people saying that having the big reveal in O&C took suspense away from Flood were right, but....maybe? Caring more about the people in the story and watching the waterless waves roll in (it makes sense in the book) was even more grinding, though. I really hope we don't revisit it in Book Three, it's horrifying every time. I can't help but think this is in some sense an answer to all the disaster porn/zombie love stuff out there -- and not in a toughass "are you MAN enough to carry your own boomstick?" way. What I really liked about O&C was how the narrative and story fit seamlessly together - yeah, Jimmy was a blitzed post-apoc wanderer, but it was clear there was something really wrong with him, he'd been smashed before that, and his dual narrative -- how this happened along with how could I have let this happen? -- was really moving. That was a lot easier for me to follow than Flood's shifting chronologies and structures, even though they were more clearly outlined -- datelined, actually. You had Ren and Toby's alternate narratives both shifting without break into the past and back again, which for me made it hard to keep the timeline straight, even tho Adam One's sermons are basically the spine of the book -- for a while I kept thinking Toby was a lot younger than she was, which threw the interactions out of whack. (This makes me think the narrative might be clearer in a physical book, with actual page breaks, and I could've flipped back to check on what was happening in previous Years, &c. On the Kindle it's just sort of forge ahead.)I did love how in this book, the men are seen mostly as romantic interludes from the POV of the women, the women characters are truly kickass (TOBY), everyone was a lot more keen and clear-eyed than poor Jimmy (a low bar, there) -- altho the constant sort of low-pitched humming (that's how it affected me, like a weird sonic frequency) of sexual assault buzzing through the storyline made me uncomfortable, it was hard to relax into the story. (Just like REAL LIFE, haha.) Oryx's story in O&C was harrowing, but it was just one story told by one person, to a man; Atwood depicts the constant not-so-low-level atmosphere of threat women move in all the time, like an element in addition to air, that weighs us down, and that was even more harrowing. And trust Atwood to blow up the dual 'rape as background grit/rape as motivation for Kickass Heroines' tropes in one book. I didn't realize til I started reading MaddAddam how much I missed the Crakers -- their place in the story, the stories they want, the stories told about and to them. I think they're one of Atwood's best creations -- limited, quasi-angelic, maddening, childlike, innocent, unspoiled, Other without being ruined by the pressure of alienation - hah, I guess that makes them actual aliens (I'm punchy, I went unwillingly to bed at like quarter to five in the morning, what do you want from me). (They're like something from a Tiptree story! But not nightmarish and/or doomed.) The Gardeners were a little bit like that -- they started off as a wheezy yet unsettling low-level cult, and then (mostly through Pilar and Adam One) turned into real people, and Peggy got me with the hymns to moles and weeds. (I know I keep harping on those, but really. A HYMN to WEEDS. An actual one, that you can sing. That encapsulates Atwood, right there.)Things I loved: TOBY. Pilar. Toby as Persephone! Ren and Amanda's friendship. Ren and Amanda RESCUING EACH OTHER. Jimmy's love life seen through the rather disenchanted eyes of his girlfriends, heh. Crake ditto. HAMMERHEAD. (Trust me, it is hilarious when you get there.) The non-condemning non-patronizing portrayal of sex work (and how a lot of work, for women, by men, turns into sex work anyway, often unpaid). Did I say Toby? I even loved Adam One after a while, all preachy and annoying at first, but sort of pragmatic yet ethical later, like an actual saint must have been (you know Hildegard of Bingen, say, was a canny lady). TOBY. Toby being a badass in a hot pink caftan with a shotgun was, again, like the flip shot of Snowman being a poor bumbling fool wrapped in his filthy sheet waving his dick empty weapon around.Finally, the non-lulzy presentation of Amanda's actual work -- the words aren't written, but they're written in matter which decays, and then predators are made into a pattern, and the words are themselves eaten and changed -- made me think: these books aren't really about genetic splicing or social satire or climate change, but storytelling, the role of mythology, how we narrate ourselves. Crake can eradicate violence from his engineered children, but not stories. They understood about dreaming. He knew that: they dreamed themselves. Crake hadn't been able to eliminate dreams. We're hard-wired for dreams, he'd said. He couldn't get rid of the singing either. We're hard-wired for singing. Singing and dreams were intertwined. Songs that are dreams: has there ever been a better description of art?

  • Cecily
    2019-04-03 18:52

    TrilogyThis story is parallel to "Oryx and Crake" (reviewed here:, and has several characters in common, though the writing style and overall format is quite different. Having read both, I can't decide whether it is better to read them in publication order (O&C first) or not, but it's certainly good to read them in quick succession. As with O&C, it is about the characters; many aspects are only ever partially explained, part way through, leaving the reader suitably disoriented in this distopian world. The third in the trilogy, MaddAddam (reviewed here:, just fills in bits between these two that don't really need filling in.PlotIt tells of the run up to and aftermath of "the waterless flood" in the near future: a man-made plague, which has wiped out most of the population and damaged the climate. It focus on an eco-religious community (cult?) called God's Gardeners. They foresee the flood and prepare for it, and in the interim, they are self-sufficient vegetarians, who scrounge scraps to reuse and recycle, and avoid the corrupt CorpSeCorp (police) and corporations that run society: "They view us as twisted fanatics who combine food extremism with bad fashion sense and a puritanical attitude to shopping. But we own nothing they want."LiturgyEvery third or fourth chapter is a sermon by Adam One, followed by the words of a hymn. The result is a curious combination of anti-capitalist eco treatise and satire, Biblical-style liturgy, and end-of-the-world fight for survival, with dashes of bathetic humour - but overall, Atwood makes it work. WomenThe story focuses on resilient, loyal female characters: Toby, who escapes various abuses to join the Gardeners as an adult, and Ren, who is taken from the safe luxury of a corporate compound when her mother runs away with a gardener. The male characters are flat and in the background (even the leader, Adam One) or bad (Blanco), though somehow it doesn't feel like a feminist rant. Ren's sections are mostly recounted in the first person and Toby's in the first.Eco Survival etcAlthough it jumps around timewise, the first part of the book has plenty of positive aspects (and some vague angst), whereas the later sections are unrelenting accounts of the lengths (and depths) people will go to in order to survive, even when they are unsure if it is worth it: "This thing I'm doing can hardly be called living, Instead I'm lying dormant, like a bacterium in a glacier. Getting time over with."The eco theme is obvious, but actually, the exploration of cult mentality is more fundamental and interesting, and it raises far more questions than it answers, exploring the many reasons why people join - and remain in - cults: no where/one else, fear, idealism, escape, drifting, actual belief, loneliness, wanting to be taken care of and not have to make decisions, even just by accident. And of course, power tends to corrupt. The senior Gardeners (Adams and Eves) break and adjust their own rules. For example, they have (and use) a laptop ("It's like the Vatican porn collection... safe in our hands") and they make surprisingly pragmatic changes to their belief system, looking for reasons to justify them afterwards.Light in the DarknessIt avoids being depressing by having plenty of gentle humour and irony: a genetically-modified caterpillar has a cute babyish face, making it hard to kill, and at the end of an earnest sermon, Adam One ends "I'm glad we have all remembered our sunhats". For all their ideals, the Gardeners are eminently practical. Another comment of Adam One's is painfully ironic, "'Nothing bad will be done to you.' But since Adam One thought even the most terrible things happened for ultimately excellent though unfathomable reasons, X didn't find this reassuring." Atwood even points out in the acknowledgement that readers are free to use the hymns for "amateur devotional or environmental purposes"! It is also full of punning portmanteaus: the exfernal world, rakunk (rat-skunk), SeksMart, AnooYoo Spa, garboil (oil from garbage), liobamb (lion-lamb).The EndThe ending is very abrupt (very slight (view spoiler)[just a different view of the final scene of O&C (hide spoiler)]) and after more than 500 pages, I was still unsure whether Atwood wants me to agree with the Gardeners or to laugh at them. Although I tend to like ambiguous endings, I was taken aback and slightly disappointed. However, a few hours later, when I'd really thought about it, I think it was the right way to end.Edit: After first writing this review, I discovered this wasn't really the end and that there was going to be a third book. Having read that third book, I reiterate the line above, "I think it [Year of the Flood] was the right way to end."Editor RequiredI think it would have benefited from a little pruning - the level of detail about Gardener lifestyle and some of Adam One's sermons, but that's a small quibble about an excellent and original novel."Nature full strength is more than we can take... It is a potent hallucinogen, a soporific for the untrained Soul. We're no longer at home in it. We need to dilute it... And God is the same. Too much God and you overdose. God needs to be filtered."Less reverently, and from a non-Gardener: "As soon as you say 'I'll be dead,' you've said the word I, so you're still alive inside the sentence. And that's how people got the idea of the immortality of the soul - it was a consequence of grammar. And so was God, because as soon as there's a past tense, there has to be a past before the past, and you keep going back in time until you get to 'I don't know', and that's what God is."

  • LeAnne
    2019-04-04 23:57

    You know, I've never poured hot melted candle wax into my ear drums before, but this week that didn't sound like such a bad idea. Many books translate well into audio versions, others so-so. Despite being over the moon for the first book in this series - which I only finished last week - this sucker was like scraping a rusty hammer's edge across an old-school chalk board. Agony.Save yourselves! Don't go audio.Okay, now that my initial rant has had its cork popped (I'll pour a touch more, later), here's my take on the plot, characters, structure, etc. First of all, I was already up to speed on the time period (the future) and the setting (post-plague and pre-plague city near the coast with freaky bio-engineered creatures on the loose). This second in the series drops us in the arms of the cult called God's Gardeners, and this is where we spend most of our time. God's Gardeners were introduced in the first book, and here we get to know the various Adams and Eves (Adam One is the leader, Adam Two and Three are his seconds, etc... ditto for the Eves, although there are not as many of them). The regular members of the cult are random disenfranchised kids or teens or adults who oppose eating meat, recycle everything, hate chemicals (including deodorant), and are basically tree-huggers on steroids. That said, some people join God's Gardeners to escape trouble at home and have different paths in getting adjusted to cult life. We get to know several of the women pretty well, and I enjoyed their individual story lines.Plot-wise, after the plague hits, some of the females survive because they have coincidentally been in isolation for one reason or another... one in a sick-bay of sorts, another out doing field work in the wilds, etc. When they each believe themselves all alone, we see them try to manage their resources and reflect on their lives until they can break out and seek other survivors. This was done well, but the structure of different females narrating and each popping back and forth in time made for a choppy reading/listening experience. But this is Margaret Atwood writing, so the little stacatto breaks were tolerable.Atwood, writing various sermons for Adam One to preach, obviously had a good time scripting his lines. She morphed standard fare gospel with God being in charge of the Big Bang, showing that seven days of creation was merely a metaphor for human evolution, etc. She also wrote about various Saints Days (see if you can recognize some of the activists who were canonized by her!). All of this is pretty witty, and at the base level, she did a great job of marrying faith and science. One could believe this cult was real. No complaints there. BUT OH MY GOD, THE SERMONS IN AUDIO FORMAT! They were written in, Im guessing maybe 15 times, and while it could've been fun to read them, visually, the character actor was grating. After a couple of these, I started to just half-tune out and tolerate them, but then the SINGING began.Look, I grew up singing in youth choirs. No stink on hyms whatsoever. The Hallelujah Chorus at Christmas time (which it is right now, as I jot this down) gives me shivers. But then again, those melodies were mostly written by masters. The guy who wrote the musical score for the hymns in this book is no Handel, believe me. Go ahead and google the video for "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas."I double-dog dare ya. The quality of that melody is ten times better than the God's Gardeners Hymns.When I read that Margaret Atwood wrote these hymns herself, my respect level for her initially plummeted. THEN I ran into an interview where she said that she composed the tongue-in-cheek lyrics to go along with the tune of regular hymns most everybody knows. Think of Onward Christian Soldiers or Amazing Grace. Unfortunately (for me at least) Atwood's agent is married to a guy who, hold on to your harmonica, WRITES MUSIC! She convinced Atwood to let hubby Orville Stoeber (I triple dog dare you to go find his YouTube channel - gah!) write original music for the hymns. This is one instance where old Nancy Reagan could've taught Atwood a lesson: just say no. Look at this guy! Sunglasses, bandana head, sleeves pulled up like Miami Vice, and sneakers with his sport coat, trying to upstage THE Margaret Atwood. sum, there were probably 15 hymns sung with pretty cheesy musical accompaniment. Between the sermons and these hideous melodies/singing, I was lighting every Christmas candle in the damn house and thinking about sticking that wax my ear canals.In total transparency, there could have been more than 15 each of these (its possible that I repressed them). There may have been fewer - but they seemed like a lot moreThe story gets a 3.5. The audio-version sermons and singing get a 1.5. Yes, I'll indulge in the third piece of the series (HBO is supposed to be making it into a series, though who knows if it'll ever gel), but you can bet your blue bottom I'll be lighting candles ahead of time.

  • Tatiana
    2019-04-20 20:04

    The Year of the Flood is a companion novel (or, as I've seen it sometimes called sidequel) to Oryx and Crake. While the book is inferior to its predecessor IMO, it is still a remarkable work of speculative fiction.Set at approximately the same time as Oryx and Crake,The Year of the Flood follows the fates of two female survivors of the Waterless Flood - an epidemic orchestrated by Crake. Ren is a trapeze dancer at a sex club locked in its quarantine room and Toby is barricaded in a spa stocked with many edible treatments. Both women have once belonged to the cult of the God's Gardeners - a religion, organic vegetarian in nature, which is devoted to the preservation of all plant and animal life. In many ways thanks to this affiliation Ren and Toby are able to survive the Flood. Just like in Oryx and Crake, Atwood takes us through the life stories of her characters, constantly switching from one perspective to another, from past to present, gradually revealing the events that have led to the Flood. This time not from the perspective of Snowman/Jimmy, a close friend of Crake's, but from the POV of ordinary people living in pleeblands. What is memorable about this sidequel is the skill with which Atwood brings the characters familiar to us from Oryx and Crake into the story. We get a glimpse at them from a different angle and learn how the God's Gardeners' teachings might have affected Crake's final idea of perfect humans, how the epidemic was spread, etc. The characters' live stories are intertwined in a very intricate way.What makes this companion inferior to its predecessor is probably the familiarity of the world and the events. The ideas of chaotic gene-splicing, creation of supreme beings, and annihilation of humanity are no longer new or shocking. Instead, Atwood concentrates on exploring the possible avenues religious thought can take under the circumstances, relationships between women (as usual, Atwood's view of men is very unflattering), vegetarianism (some disturbing meat imagery here). Somehow it all makes the book a little duller, less intense than Oryx and Crake. The ending in Atwood's signature way is very open. What is the fate of humanity? What is in store for the Crakers? Did Crake's plan to establish a new better civilization even work?

  • Anna
    2019-04-03 17:58

    Το δεύτερο βιβλίο της σειράς Maddaddam, όπου διαδραματίζεται παράλληλα με το πρώτο και δρα συμπληρωματικά στο πολύ ενδιαφέρον σύμπαν που δημιούργησε η Άτγουντ. Βρισκόμαστε σε μια εποχή όπου η έρευνα και η τεχνολογία έχουν προχωρήσει σε τέτοιο μεγάλο βαθμό, που η σειρά σηκώνει μεγάλη συζήτηση Βιοηθικής. Ενώ η έρευνα πραγματοποιείται σε μεγάλα συγκροτήματα εταιριών, που ουσιαστικά έχουν τη μορφή μεγάλων πόλεων, οι λοιποί πληβείοι συσσωρεύονται στις πλεμπογειτονιές.Στο πρώτο βιβλίο οι ήρωες ζούσαν στα μεγάλα συγκροτήματα, οπότε αντιμετωπίζαμε κι εμείς τις πλεμπογειτονιές σαν κάτι άρρωστο, σιχαμένο, εγκληματικό, όπου κάποιος που έχει αποτύχει απελπιστικά στη ζωή του θα καταλήξει εκεί. Στο συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο βλέπουμε ότι τα πράγματα δεν είναι ακριβώς έτσι: αφηγήτριες είναι η Τόμπι και η Ρεν που πέρασαν μεγάλο μέρος της ζωής τους στους Κηπουρούς, μια New Age σέχτα θρησκόληπτων που αγαπούσαν τη φύση, δεν έτρωγαν οτιδήποτε είχε πρόσωπο, παρά μονάχα σε μεγάλη ανάγκη επιβίωσης (γιατί τα ζώα έχουν ψυχή), δόξαζαν το Θεό για το δημιούργημά του, έβρισκαν γιατρικά από τη φύση και ετοιμάζονταν ψυχή τε και σώματι για την Άνυδρη Πλημμύρα, την τιμωρία του Θεού προς τον άνθρωπο για την κατάντια του. Οι ήρωες του πρώτου μέρους κάνουν την εμφάνισή τους και εδώ, ενώ αντιλαμβανόμαστε περισσότερο τα κίνητρά τους. Το βιβλίο είναι γραμμένο ακολουθώντας το ίδιο ακριβώς μοτίβο: η καταστροφή έχει έρθει και οι αφηγήτριες αναλογίζονται τη ζωή τους και πώς κατέληξαν εκεί που κατέληξαν (ευγνωμονώντας φυσικά που είναι ζωντανές, αλλά και προβληματιζόμενες στο πώς θα παραμείνουν ζωντανές από τη μια και τι θα κάνουν στη συνέχεια από την άλλη). Κάποια στιγμή τα γεγονότα συγκλίνουν και η ιστορία συνεχίζει από εκεί ακριβώς που την αφήσαμε στο προηγούμενο βιβλίο, όπου μαθαίνουμε ποιοι ήταν οι άνθρωποι που πλησίασαν το Χιονάνθρωπο και τι έγινε μετά.Το βιβλίο δεν παρουσιάζει το στοιχείο της έκπληξης, ο αναγνώστης δεν έχει την αγωνία να μάθει την αιτία της πανούκλας, εγώ θα έλεγα μάλιστα ότι μας δίνει το backstage του πρώτου μέρους. Κατά συνέπεια, θα το δω ως αναπόσπαστο κομμάτι του πρώτου και δεν μπορώ να το κρίνω μόνο του. Η μεγάλη διαφορά είναι ότι το πρώτο μέρος παρουσιάζει την επιστημονική πλευρά, το δεύτερο παρουσιάζει την «αφελή» θρησκόληπτη πλευρά των «προφητών» (?) που προειδοποιούν για όσα μέλλεται να γίνουν με το δρόμο που έχει πάρει η ανθρωπότητα. [Δεν θα αντέξω, θα το γράψω: Να προβλέπουν ή να προκαλούν, στην τελική; Αν σας τσίτωσα τώρα διαβάστε το βιβλίο!!!]Εννοείται ότι πρώτα πρέπει κάποιος να έχει διαβάσει το πρώτο και δεν διαβάζονται ανεξάρτητα. Μεγάλη συζήτηση και για το κατά πόσο αυτά που περιγράφει είναι κοντά στη σύγχρονη ζωή (γκουχ γκουχ...)Και λίγα λόγια για τη μετάφραση, κάτι που πολλοί σχολιάσατε στις κριτικές σας. Το βιβλίο είναι σαφώς κατώτερο από το πρώτο μέρος, εξάλλου εκεί μαθαίνουμε όλη την επιστημονική ορολογία. Το δεύτερο μέρος είναι περισσότερο new age, χωρίς να χρειάζεται όλη αυτή την ορολογία, γιατί διαδραματίζεται μακριά από τις μεγάλες εταιρείες. ΟΜΩΣ: εγώ διάβασα το πρώτο βιβλίο από την Ωκεανίδα, σε μετάφραση της Μαρίας Αγγελίδου, η οποία είχε κάνει εξαιρετική δουλειά, μάλιστα ευχαριστούσε επιστήμονες φυσικούς και βιολόγους για τη βοήθεια στην κατανόηση και απόδοση των όρων της Άτγουντ. Δηλαδή η γυναίκα έκανε απίστευτη προεργασία και ασχολήθηκε με το θέμα. Η Ωκεανίδα δεν έβγαλε τα άλλα δυο βιβλία, ενώ ο Ψυχογιός ξαναέβγαλε το πρώτο μέρος (σε μετάφραση της Έφης Τσιρώνη - δεν έχω ιδέα γι’ αυτό το βιβλίο), και έβγαλε και τα άλλα δύο. Το δεύτερο (το παρόν) δεν το μετέφρασε η κ. Τσιρώνη, η οποία μετέφρασε το τρίτο (Το τέλος του κόσμου). Δηλαδή εγώ θα διαβάσω τα τρία βιβλία της ίδιας σειράς από τρεις διαφορετικές μεταφράστριες. Όσο καλή δουλειά κι έχουν κάνει και οι τρεις, κάτι δεν κολλάει. Φυσικά σε αυτό δεν φταίνε οι μεταφράστριες, αλλά οι εκδοτικοί οίκοι. Μάλλον όμως ανοίγω μεγάλο θέμα συζήτησης.

  • Madeline
    2019-04-10 18:10

    I actually liked this better than its counterpart, Oryx and Crake (but you must read both, no matter what), and I think it's because this book focuses on two female protagonists this time, instead of Jimmy - Atwood is a genius, but she just doesn't write male characters well. This book is hard to explain, especially to someone who hasn't read Oryx and Crake. So I'm going to disregard those people completely and just pretend you all know exactly what I'm talking about.Basically, the events in this book occur at the exact same time most of the stuff in Oryx and Crake does. The two stories occasionally blend together, but for the most part the two time lines run parallel to each other. Our narrators are Toby and Ren, two women who both spent time as members of the religious/environmental group the God's Gardeners. This group holds the belief that there will be a "waterless flood" unleashed on the earth to purge mankind, and they prepare for this flood by storing supplies and learning how to live off the land. Because of this, they are the only ones who are prepared when Crake's virus wipes out the majority of the human population. This is the story of the disaster, the events leading up to it, and the people who survived it, told from the outside - we finally get to see what it's really like to live in the pleeblands. That was probably the best part about the book for me - questions that didn't get answered in Oryx and Crake (like just how long Crake was working on his whole wipe-out-humanity plan) get answered, and characters who were merely background get full stories here. Remember Amanda Payne, Jimmy's artist girlfriend? She's a major character here, and is given so much more meaning and depth than she was allowed to have in the first book. That's another good thing - Jimmy is no longer telling the story, but he's still in the book. We get to see him and judge his actions through someone else's eyes, and the result was so fascinating it made me want to read the two books side by side to get the full effect. That's the best advice I can give if you're considering reading this, by the way: read Oryx and Crake, and then immediately after, read The Year of the Flood. The smallest details and most minor characters from the first book become very important in the second, and you don't want to forget anything. I said it in my Oryx and Crake review and I'll say it here again: nobody writes dystopia like Margaret Atwood. Kneel at her feet, lowly mortals.

  • ·Karen·
    2019-03-29 20:05

    Knocked out by this one. What a page-turner.Original review (2010):Although this is not my favourite genre, I very much enjoyed this speculative dystopian novel. It is a parallel narrative to Oryx and Crake, set in the Pleeblands rather than the Compounds. It also fills in on the activities of the Gardeners of God, a radical greenie sect that combine vegetarianism, ancient lore about herbs and plants and other natural cures, and a sort of rational belief in a pantheistic God, a God that is a personification of the natural order of things, and taking the myth of Adam and Eve as their basic understanding of man's place in this natural order. The group is attacked violently which leads to a split, the more militant wing breaks away, and shortly after that the global disaster strikes: a sudden eruption of a virus that dissolves humans from the inside. The only survivors are those who were in some way isolated at the time of the catastrophe. The two main narrative focusses, Ren and Toby are brilliantly evoked and my interest was held by my desire to follow their fates. The ideas are also thought provoking and not so far-fetched as to be unimagineable. The only odd thing was how this relatively small group of people kept on meeting up again, even after they had broken away from the original community. The number of coincidental encounters, the ubiquitousness of Jimmy was sometimes hard to accept as realistic.

  • Ted
    2019-03-29 23:15

    This work isn't perfect, there are the odd little details here and there which don't ring true, etc etc. I noted such things once and awhile as I read, but they didn't bother me much. The story is such a page-turner, that it's easy to overlook the minor flaws I thought were present. (Heck, maybe they were only present in my skull.)The book enlarges the vision begun in Oryx and Crake. I don't think one would need to read that first, but why wouldn't you? True, I did think this book was better than the first - there are more characters in Flood than in Oryx, and this leads, in my opinion, to a greater depth to the story. But some of this depth wouldn't be as deep, without the first book.Anyway, the biggest problem with the so-called MaddAddam trilogy is that the third book has not yet been written by Ms. Atwood! (No longer a problem!) That is was a real bummer! What am was I supposed to do, read some other book by her? Is this a plot by Ms. Atwood and her publisher(s)? (If so, it might work, in my case.)Well, by now the last book in the trilogy, Maddaddam, has been published, and read by me. It was great.

  • Caro M.
    2019-04-10 18:45

    Here's Atwood at her best - presenting us with with the stories of survivors, be it a heartbreak or the end of the world or a starvation and violence. Those stories are sometimes sad and sometimes a bit funny and always realistic, well, maybe except for the pigoons. It's like you watch the movie with many disturbing details with your friend, but he's already seen it for a couple of times, so he's not cringing unlike you are and he's encouraging you not to close your eyes, because otherwise you'll miss the whole point. That's how it feels to read these stories. So I watched that movie. It's hard to say I enjoyed the "new world", because there are usually the madmaxian qualities to some, if not most of the survivors, which ruin the said new world for everyone except them. But I did enjoy the book, which was seemingly slow in the beginning, but it's the case with all of Atwood's books. I liked how it added more detail to the world of Oryx and Crake and I swallowed that one in a gulp. I also liked the seeming weirdness of God's Gardeners, their ecologically religious tone, to which Atwood seems to add her genuine sympathy. The Saints calendar was most brilliant idea. I'd use it myself.

  • Katie
    2019-03-26 18:11

    Sorry to be a party-pooper for my fellow Margaret Atwood fans, but this book disappointed me. (I read an advance edition supplied by a friend in publishing.) If you haven't read Oryx and Crake, don't even try to get through this. Snowman and the blue people are back, but there's almost no explanation for who they are or where they came from. If you haven't read Oryx and Crake, there's still an interesting version of future society here (this book takes place in the Pleebs, unlike most of O&C), but you will probably be confused.The thing that bothered me the most about this book is that I don't understand why Ms. Atwood wanted to write it. I feel like she had so much fun with O&C that she just wanted to spend more time in that world. That's fine with me because I really enjoyed O&C (and her writing in general), but I don't think this book added much to her future world. As I said, we do get more detail about life in the Pleebs, but almost no new insights into the main characters of O&C. I guess the bottom line is, if you're a Margart Atwood fan and you've read Oryx and Crake, you will probably like this new book too. If you have not read any of her books, don't start with this one.

  • Jamie
    2019-04-05 20:09

    I’ll confess up front that I don’t often have the opportunity to read contemporary fiction; or in any case, I’m always a few years behind. Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood, for example, was the only book I read in 2009 that was actually published in 2009 (and I should say that I finished the novel about an hour after midnight on New Year’s Eve—or Day, rather, at that point—as I sipped the dregs of my celebratory champagne). The novel was the latest on my kick of trying to work through everything she’s written, a little mission that began nearly two years ago, when I decided to include her novels The Edible Woman and The Robber Bride in my senior honors thesis on fairytale revisions by recent women (some might say ‘feminist’) writers. I re-read The Handmaid’s Tale for about the eleventh time that summer, and quickly devoured the two aforementioned novels for academic appropriation, and then moved on to Cat’s Eye, Oryx and Crake, Bluebeard’s Egg (short stories), some poetry (Selected Poems and Morning in the Burned House), and, most recently, Alias Grace, which I had the wonderful opportunity to teach in an honors seminar I was TA-ing for. When The Year of the Flood was released in September, I was at the exact point in the semester where I began to be overwhelmed by everything; if nothing else, my first semester in graduate school stripped me of my pleasure reading time. The book sat on my shelf for nearly three months, a shiny, brand-spankin’-new hardcover copy (and you should know by now that I almost never buy books new—it’s just not in the grad student budget, despite the fact that I have to purchase about a million per semester now)—and more importantly, signed by Atwood, who had stopped in Harvard Square to give a reading on her book tour. She sang, she danced, she enticed me by reading bits and pieces from the novel…but still I had to wait.And then winter break. My reading list is hemorrhaging books—everything that’s been shoved to the side over the past four months, but I made certain to crack into Atwood’s before the opportunity escaped me. I posted thoughts on the novel as I worked through it, which you can find on my review of it, but here are some more overarching musings about the novel.First, if you’re not familiar with Atwood’s oeuvre, The Year of the Flood is a ‘sidequel’ or a ‘simul-narrative’ to her 2003 novel Oryx and Crake—both are what Atwood terms ‘speculative’ novels that imagine potential dystopic outcomes for life on our world. The narrative transpires, if I make an educated guess, about fifty years from the present, as an allusion to American slavery places it about two centuries prior. Natural resources are more or less annihilated, with the ozone considerably damaged; innumerable species have fallen to extinction; the U.S. has been commandeered by corrupt corporations that find allies in ‘pleebland’ gangs to maintain order over the masses. Top scientists are creating frightening gene splices: pigs with human brain tissue; chickens that consist entirely of edible parts; mammals with extra organs available for harvesting. In Oryx and Crake, we come into this strange (but perhaps too easily imaginable) new world through Jimmy—known by his alias ‘Snowman’—a survivor of a global pandemic that nearly wipes out the human race. No worries, this is no spoiler—we’re alerted to this little detail on the first pages of O&C. Is Snowman the last man alive? The earlier novel withholds many of these bits of information, and what becomes compelling is not only the possibility of Snowman’s survival and his future, but his past—what brought him to this point, and the little glimpses into the appalling world I just described. Snowman is a disaffected and perhaps (to his mind) undeserving survivor. He and the two other figures at the center of that novel—Oryx and Crake—are the very highest of the elite, and thus the reader’s view of the world is from a vantage point both wider-reaching, for they have the power to access otherwise silenced knowledge, and more insular, for they’re kept in a privileged, somewhat Stepford Wives-ian, bubble of existence.Cut to The Year of the Flood. If its companion novel features a male, privileged eye to this dystopia, YOTF grants us the position of the people who fall through the cracks, and both protagonists are women, to boot (which, I’ll freely admit, I think Atwood writes better than she does male characters). Interestingly, each protagonist begins the novel in a state of isolation not unlike Snowman’s—are they the last alive, they wonder?—but as the narrative progresses, we realize their pasts are intertwined; both were members of a sort of eco-religion/pseudo-cult called the God’s Gardeners. Thus, the third ‘narrator’ (though he’s more of a disembodied, Wizard of Oz sort of voice) is the leader of this group, Adam One. Toby, we find, was another leader-figure in the organization. Saved from the grips of a murderous rapist by the Gardeners, Toby is the eloquent, razor-sharp, and hardened narrator Atwood has perfected at this point in her career—she’s reminiscent of Tony from The Robber Bride or perhaps the older Elaine Risley of Cat’s Eye—but a distinctive voice among a truly strong group of female narrators throughout Atwood’s fiction. She’s the voice of reason and of doubt—she has a wealth of experience at hand, but there’s a compelling vulnerability beneath her cold cocoon. Her pupils may mockingly refer to her as the ‘Dry Witch,’ but Toby’s is a wonderfully evocative voice throughout the novel—particularly in terms of her relation to the Gardeners, whose doctrine becomes more and more convincing the farther into this wasteland we travel. But Toby’s wavering faith in their doctrine mirrored my own—of course we hope to hold onto something solid when we’re going under, but Toby recognizes the vast limitations in both the group and in her standing within it.Ren, on the other hand, is of the more fragile type—most strongly reminiscent of young Elaine in Cat’s Eye, if I were forced to make the comparison. She’s a member of the Gardeners as a child, and we grow up with her in a way that we don’t with Toby—as such, I found myself (at times) more emotionally drawn to Ren than I was to Toby (but I’m also not the sort of reader that sees that emotional umbilical cord as integral to a character’s strength). Ren is a stripper at the time of the pandemic—what is called in this novel the Waterless Flood by the Gardeners, and thus, the title of the novel—though we’re not really given to know how she moved from sheltered religious girl to sex worker until nearly the end of the novel. I love that Atwood handled sex work with such grace; for so many people, even or perhaps especially writers, it becomes a repulsive or tragic potentiality for female characters. If you know me, you know my views on sex work, and I think Atwood granted dignity and humanity—not to mention, treated it for what it is, a job (and not some sort of martyring)—to Ren’s position at the aptly named Scales & Tails club. Perhaps I should backtrack a bit. I couldn’t help but think of Cat’s Eye as I read the novel, particularly Ren’s sections. Though the novel is in the world of Oryx and Crake, the affective quality of it takes me back to Cat’s Eye, which is perhaps her most emotionally moving novel for me. Perhaps this is why I enjoyed YOTF more than I did O&C—both are absolutely wonderful novels, and each has powerful justification for its approach to the apocalypse—O&C makes sense as a jaded, detached sort of narrative for me. It’s just that I’m more personally drawn to this sort of Atwoodian narrative, where the characters’ interiors take precedence over the trajectory of the plot. If the earlier novel was more in the Orwellian strain of dystopic narratives, this one takes me back to The Handmaid’s Tale, which is of course a terrifying dystopic vision, but is also the tale of the human condition under those pressures. That was an insular, almost asphyxiating, narrative—likewise, the scope of YOTF is grand, but we’re offered a view of it by two women who wield a specifically tailored sort of tunnel vision to their experiences. And I love Atwood’s ability to balance private experience with a colossal plot. This is becoming far too long, not to mention I feel like I might move into spoilers if I talk much longer. Perhaps I should direct you to my goodreads review pages for both O&C and YOTF. But in short, this is a real achievement for Atwood. The prose is lucid and witty, cutting like paper—bad metaphor, I know, but I suppose what I want to impart with it is that the writing pierces unexpectedly. It may not be identifiable at first, but you find yourself haunted by it. Every character is beautifully drawn—I could read a novel from the perspective of each of them. Pilar, the beekeeper, was particularly fascinating to me, but I’d read a narrative behind Bernice’s eyes, or Zeb’s, or even Ren’s awful mother, Lucerne. This can be a stand-alone novel, but I strongly recommend reading Oryx and Crake first, simply because so much of this novel will resonate more strongly having that one under your belt. It was astonishing seeing Atwood tie the threads of the two together—moments in that novel that seemed so trivial at the time (Red’s diary, for example) become pivotal for this one. I can’t praise this one enough—I wouldn’t call it her masterwork (perhaps only because I couldn’t choose among my favorites of her novels), but it’s a novel that I already want to reopen and immerse myself in again. That’s a rare feat for a jaded reader like me. ---Here are the earlier thoughts I had on the novel, as I read it--SPOILERS ahead.I'm going to try something another reviewer (Choupette) did with another Atwood novel (Robber Bride), and jot some notes down with YOTF as I go, coming back for a more comprehensive review at the end of the [email protected] p. 160First and foremost, I must admit that I find the characters of YOTF more compelling than those in Oryx and Crake; at times, I felt that Oryx or Crake were so enigmatic as to be opaque to me, and Jimmy/Snowman was well-written but not particularly nuanced. I loved O&C, don't get me wrong, but I'm also of the mind that Atwood writes women better than she writes men, and so Toby and Ren are already much more tangible for me than any of the O&C characters were at the end of the book. Both are fantastic; Toby's past is reminiscent of Crake's, but this time, we're given to know the sort of haunting her past inflicts upon her. Ren isn't as clear to me yet, primarily because I'm just now getting into her childhood (which reminds me, strangely, of Elaine's childhood in Cat's Eye), and so I've seen her identity as God's Gardener but not so much as Scales & Tails dancer (though the repeating cuts to the scene of her in the 'Sticky Zone' are both simple and terrifying at once--very effective, Margaret!). As I mentioned (incidentally) to Choupette, I find Atwood's handling of the sort of religious fanaticism of the God's Gardeners here surprisingly compelling, not to mention frighteningly convincing. I should revise-I don't think of them as fanatics, but this doesn't mean that to an outsider, they would come off as a bit freaky. Think less televangelist (a la Serena Joy, as another reviewer, Moira, reminded me) and more extremist foodie cult (maybe fruitarianism would be comparable?). But what I love, much in the way she does with Serena Joy, is that we see both the benefits of being part of such an organization *and* the regrets/pitfalls that come with it. Toby, for example, doesn't really buy this shit; nonetheless, they saved her from the very real possibility of having her brains bashed in by an abusive employer, and she really appreciates many of them *as* people. Atwood doesn't create paper cutout characters here, which is to my mind one of her strongest faculties as a writer--and something I think she sometimes fell a bit short with in O&C. Perhaps the strangest thing yet is that this reads more like Cat's Eye or The Handmaid's Tale in the world of O&C, rather than a total sidequel to that novel. The so-called Waterless Flood has barely registered in the novel yet; we're still getting to know everyone, we're still delving into the past and the fraught emotions of living in a world that moves a bit too's beautifully done, surprising, and very tender in ways that O&C was not (again, though, I love O&C, just for different reasons). I've been taking my time with this one, which I usually don't do, just to savor [email protected] p. 230The plot really began to pick up over the last 60-70 pages, in surprising ways. You'd think that the whole 'sidequel' thing wouldn't work too well, or it would be done in a really cheesy manner. But [spoiler alert:] once Jimmy and Glenn (Crake) appeared, the frayed ends of each novel began to weave together--and again, I can't cry enough how much I'm loving that this novel does O&C from a female perspective; so when Jimmy reads his lover's diary (remember that from O&C? It was a pretty minor moment...), it becomes a much more potent betrayal and pivotal moment, because now we've got Ren's entire history behind the diary, not to mention her 'fear' of words, instilled through the doctrine of the Gardeners. So to have Jimmy commandeer her precious words, and use her up in the way he does--now there's a powerful emotional resonance behind the event, rather than disaffected humdrum quality of it in O&C. Again, each novel uses these different tactics in effective ways; O&C is a disaffected novel that capitalizes on the possibility that our bright, utopic future might be, simply, so bright as to blind us to joy and variation. It's a novel that considers the upper classes as ensnared within a sort of technological static, a flatlined state of existence in overexposure. YOTF, then, provides the opposing side of the mirror; thus, we get the gritty underbelly of the pleeblands, we get the hopelessness and despair of people living in a largely lawless state that is sometimes infiltrated and appropriated by a Big Brother-style government--one that is essentially in cahoots with the same criminals that usually infest the pleeblands. But with this, we also see the resourcefulness of those living in such an awful situation--and as I've said, the affective capacity of these characters becomes paramount, because the stakes are higher. [Possibly major spoilers ahead:] One of the most shocking moments was when Lucerne took Ren back to the HelthWyzer compound (which in turn leads Ren to Jimmy and Glenn/Crake)--shocking because, first, I wasn't really expecting *that* to be her departure from the Gardeners, but more importantly, shocking because of how beautifully Atwood handled it. Lucerne's action is incredibly selfish, despicable really--the sort of impetuous revenge motion of a 'woman scorned'--but Atwood doesn't leave it there, of course. We see soon thereafter the humanity of Lucerne, who is able both to threaten Ren with the death of her best friend (Amanda, another figure making a reappearance from O&C) and to save that very friend. Likewise, once Ren begins sleeping with Jimmy, even she begins to understand Lucerne's impulsiveness; Lucerne's pain in her relationships with both her husband and with Zeb becomes valid motivation for her seemingly horrible actions. Moments like those are what really bring me back to Cat's Eye, I suppose, because there's a really stunning subtlety to the way Atwood depicts betrayal and violence--a sort of tenderness that you don't expect to see when vileness becomes integral to a character's forward movement in the narrative. Truly well done.Also, I'm super sad that Pilar died. [email protected] p. 309This has become a novel that I want to spend the next year slowly working through; I want to savor every page, but Atwood makes it so tough, because even at her smartest and most poignant and reflective, her plots remain compulsive page-turners. I know I've been cheating by avoiding the book at times I really want to read it; delaying the moment where I pick it up and dive in once again...simply in order to stretch out the span of time I have to cuddle up with this.The past 70 pages heated things up in a really violent way. If you've thought the first part of the book was meandering (and I can see this point, though I loved that quality to the first half), stick with it. Because now it's nearly impossible to put down. The threads are all coming together and I am so so curious to see how she concludes the novel. I suppose I've got about another 100 pages to go, and that's a disheartening thought, because I could really stay in this world forever. But to my surprise...Atwood just keeps surprising me with this novel. [Again, SPOILERS:] The way Ren ends up back in contact with Amanda, with Toby...and at the point I've just stopped, quite literally on top of Jimmy? The architecture of the novel is impeccable. And it's been a real treat to watch Ren grow up, because what was originally a character able to pull on the inner child I still harbor (unwittingly, mostly) has become a fully-fleshed-out and incredibly complex adult that bears the trace of that curious child, but carries the awful burdens of passing over the threshold. In short, and I hate to say it, I feel as though Ren is someone not entirely unlike me. In a lot of ways, I'm able to identify with her in ways I've rarely identified with Atwood's characters--I can always touch them, I always feel that I've encountered them, but Ren is the sort of character I could discover inside myself. And that makes the emotional punch all that more terrifying. Likewise, Toby has become the sort of intricate figure that I admire, respect--someone I wouldn't mind becoming more like, in time. I know, I know, these are silly personal anecdotes and ramblings--but once again, I remain a bit awed that this novel has hit as hard as it continues to do. Perhaps that's why I feel its kinship with Cat's Eye, maybe more than any of her other novels. Sure, this is the world of O&C (and now, the characters of O&C are more present and pivotal than ever), but this is the emotional field of Elaine Risley and Cordelia--it's tough to face at times, but indelibly imprinted onto your consciousness, potent and familiar. I suppose, in short, that what I have to say at this point is that I'm going to be really sad to turn the final page of this one. Luckily, I've got a pretty damn fine reading list laid out to fill the rest of my winter break. But this will be instantly tossed on my 'need to reread' shelf.---

  • Kathleen
    2019-04-11 20:08

    “But we craved the knowledge of good and evil, and we obtained that knowledge, and now we are reaping the whirlwind. In our efforts to rise above ourselves, we have indeed fallen far, and are falling farther still; for, like the Creation, the Fall, too is ongoing.”In Oryx and Crake, the world is built and we consider the impact an individual can have on society. The Year of the Flood is more about society’s impact on individuals. We learn about the year of the flood and what led up to it from two particular women, Toby and Ren, and at the same time, we discover how these events made them who they are. The way this book is structured is very satisfying. We have these two narrations of the story, Toby’s told in third person alternating with Ren’s in first person. This gives us some distance from Toby. We aren’t quite sure about her—who she is or what she’ll do. Ren is right there, fresh and immediate. Mixed in with these alternating narratives are the God’s Gardeners sermons, with Adam One’s calm, flock-shepherding voice. And the hymns:My body is my earthly ArkIt’s proof against the Flood;It holds all creatures in its heart,And knows that they are goodThe story itself alternates between horror and suspense and fun and sarcasm. There are things to learn here too, like never to drink water out of a stream, but to dig a hole nearby instead. How to make wondrous crafts out of recycled garbage. How to use maggots to heal (I did mention horror). We learn how to survive.I believe Saint Euell Gibbons, Saint Rachel Carson, and all the others would be pleased.

  • Wilja
    2019-04-16 21:10

    Die Mitte hätte um 150 Seiten gekürzt werde können, deswegen Abzüge im der B-Note, aber ansonsten eine interessante Geschichte mit intelligent aufgebauten Handlungssträngen. Erst in der Mitte habe ich verstanden, das es hier um 2 Protagonistinnen geht anstatt um eine. Ab da wirkte das Storytelling auch nicht mehr so sprunghaft 😂 zum Ende hin verschmilzt Buch 1&2 und nun bin ich gespannt auf Teil 3 🙌🏻

  • Kathryn
    2019-04-01 00:05

    This is what I call a slogger, one of those books I slowly slog through, rather like mud or jello. Don't ask me to explain too much but it's an image I often use. Some sloggers are rewarding. For those I must be in the right frame of mind. Some sloggers I give up on, usually out of boredom. This book fell squarely in the middle. I think I'll continue this is the group thread...Recommended for lovers of Atwood's writing (which I happily count myself among) or lovers of apocalyptic fiction who are more concerned with the path towards destruction than the aftermath. In otherwords, do not expect much of an ending. Oh, and make sure to read Oryx and Crake first, as this is the same story told from different perspectives.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-04-01 18:13

    Since Oryx and Crake was one of my favorite Atwood novels, I was happy to read another book intertwined with that world and characters. This one focuses more on the religion of a group called The Gardeners, who are planning for the waterless flood."Nothing wrecks your nails like a lethal pandemic plague."10/13 - Re-reading the trilogy since we're going to discuss Oryx and Crake on SFF Audio. I went hunting for reasons and explanation and details that I didn't notice the first time. But they're probably spoilers, so I'll hide them. (view spoiler)["You can fall in love with anybody - a fool, a criminal, a nothing. There are no good rules." (66) <-- this doesn't have anything to do with spoilers but I liked it"Confronted by too much emptiness, said Adam One, the brain invents. Loneliness creates company as thirst creates water." (165)Glenn = the guy who brought in Pilar's lab sample to confirm cancer, the undercover runner. Why is he associated with God's Gardeners? And so does his connection with them mean that their council is more intimately associated with the Waterless Flood, that's they were a cause, not just a crazy kooky cult? Ack!Glenn talking to Ren post-Jimmy breakup. Asking questions about the Gardeners and the Waterless Flood."One day, he said that what you had to do in any adversarial situation was to kill the king, as in chess. I said people didn't have kings any more. He said he meant the centre of power, but today it wouldn't be a single person, it would be the technological connections. I said, you mean like coding and splicing, and he said, 'Something like that.'" (228)"Glenn used to say the reason you can't really imagine yourself being dead was that as soon as you say, 'I'll be dead,' you've said the word I, and so you're still alive inside the sentence." (316)"With MaddAddam.""Mad Adam?" I said. "Like Zeb, at the Gardeners?""More than Zeb. It was a bunch of us - him and us, and some others," said Shackie. "Top scientists- gene-splicers who'd bailed out of the Corps and gone underground because they hated what the Corps were doing. Rebecca and Katuro were in it - they helped distribute the product... We were doing bioform resistance. The splicers put the bioforms together.. we'd take the bioforms to the locations and let them loose." (333)"Zeb figured if you could destroy the infrastructure then the planet could repair yourself. Before it was too late and everything went extinct.""So this plague, was it a MaddAddam thing?" said Amanda."No way," said Shackie. "Zeb didn't believe in killing people, not as such. He just wanted them to stop wasting everything and fucking up." (333)"The MaddAddams were working with Zeb, but then the CorpsSeCorps tracked them down through a MaddAddam codenamed Crake, and they ended up as brain slaves in a place called the Paradice Project dome... they were all helping Crake with his big experiment: some kind of perfectly beautiful human gene splice that could live forever." (395)I'm starting to get a more complete picture. I definitely hadn't made the Glenn-Gardeners connection as much, and it makes me wonder some things. (hide spoiler)]

  • Michael
    2019-04-14 20:45

    Disappointing to me for its wooden characters, sluggish pace, pedestrian prose, , and ineffective conveyance of the tragedy of an apocalyptic plague. The premise of a privatization of police, then government, and a biotechnology industry gone awry to the point of danger was rendered as a fairly interesting foundation for the dystopia portrayed. The idea of a green religion based on ecology, with a Saint Rachel Carson and Euell Gibbons, and illustration of the role such a group might play in surviving a collapse of industrialized society were the most redeeming aspects of the book. The many hymns included are also a creative contribution (set to music by others at www.yearof the However, the novel did not make me cry, nor laugh or smile with any dark satirical humor, nor feel enlightened about the origins of corporate greed that is pushing civilization toward the mess projected here. That the ultimate plague is effected by a few twisted individuals on purpose wasn't very compelling. I didn't expect to be thrilled or entertained as with a conventional pot-boiler, but from a prize-winning author, I expect a more rewarding reflection on human nature, the meaning of life, and explication of the path we are on.

  • mary
    2019-04-23 20:14

    I have always loved Margaret Atwood. I haven't read a single book of hers before this that I didn't love. But I am finding that The Year of the Flood is both tedious and twee --- as though constant tongue-in-cheek references to today's culture run amok are enough to carry the theme. They are not.I chalk the multiple positive ratings it has garnered up to the fact that, hey, this is Margaret Atwood we're critiquing here. Well, it appears even Margaret can phone one in.Unless things change for the better quickly, I'm shelving this as *unfinished* and getting on with my next book on CD. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Ditched it. *heaves great sigh of relief*

  • Jennifer (aka EM)
    2019-04-10 00:57

    **a few hours later**In light of Jason pointing out some glaring inconsistencies in my Atwood ratings, and upon further reflection (like this stuff matters): I'm going to drop O&C to a low 4 and raise this one to a mid- to high 4. The reality is that, compared to lots of other stuff, they should both probably be 5, but we are hardest on those we love best.***********************************It might be my current state of mind; it might be that I read this too close to Oryx Crake; or because I read it after O&C. It might be that I mostly read it in small chunks as I was drifting off to sleep and it, surprisingly, did not linger there in my sub-conscious. But I can't give this the 4-star "I really liked it" rating. ETA: well, apparently I can.I liked it. It's Atwood in good form. But it's not more than that. [ETA: or should I say, it's no less than that -- which is a lot.] So I'm giving it the same rating as I gave Parable of the Sower, even though by any measure, The Year of the Flood is a far superior work. [jakaem, sometimes you make absolutely no sense even to me:].ETA: ok, the rest of this can stand.Here's my issue: I'm struggling to understand why Atwood conceived the two - Oryx & Crake and this one - together, but wrote them as separate books. The Jimmy character and story-line of O&C was weak--it could easily have been slashed and spliced onto this one (hehe -- that's an insidery pun for those who are playing the home game). If you read in order of publication, which seems the sensible thing to do, O&C comes first. But that reading order means that O&C takes the edge off this one, dulling the horror and the tension of The Year of the Flood. All the cleverness and disconcerting detail which was only hinted at in O&C, is fleshed out (hehe) in The Year of the Flood within the latter's better story, richer characterization, and far more visceral descriptions of horror (Atwood is best, I find, when her horrific details jump out at you from behind a bush, not when they linger in the air like a bad smell). Bottom line, I wish I had read this one first.Top marks, though, to the God's Gardeners concept (and theme of environmentalism-as-a-religion). Its execution is classic Atwood: bitingly satiric, filled with obscure but meaningful detail, coherent but also ethically disorienting; fully and quirkily developed (how much do I love that the "hymns" were based on The Hymn Book of The Anglican Church of Canada and The United Church of Canada? And how much do I love this, from the Acknowledgements: "Orville Stoeber of Venice, California, began composing the music to several of these hymns to see what might happen, and then got swept away. The extraordinary results can be heard on the CD, Hymns of the God's Gardeners. Anyone who wishes to use any of these hymns for amateur devotional or environmental purposes is more than welcome to do so. (my emphasis -- OMG, Margaret, you are the QUEEN of the sardonic aside.)Earthseed versus God's Gardeners: God's Gardeners massive WIN.The Year of the Flood versus Oryx & Crake: objectively, the Flood wins; subjectively, the reverse, but only because O&C won the toss.

  • Sarah Anne
    2019-03-30 18:06

    I'm so glad I read this book! It gathers up all of the loose threads from the first and weaves the back of the tapestry so you finally have a whole. Each revelation was like "Oh!" And there were many of them. It also wasn't as disturbing and dismal as the first.For people who were frustrated by all of the things we didn't know in Oryx & Crake, I highly recommend reading this one. The audio was also quite good, with a narrator for each of the three POVs.

  • Apatt
    2019-04-15 20:07

    Oryx and Crake, the first volume of the MaddAddam Trilogy is one of the best books I read this year (top 5 probably) so reading this "sequel" is a no brainer. The Year of the Flood is not exactly a sequel though, you could read it as a standalone (though I recommend that you read Oryx and Crake first for max enjoyment).The timelines of the two books overlap in most of this volume but it extends a little further by the end of the book. Two of Oryx and Crake's protagonists make cameo appearances here but The Year of the Flood is not about them.The story is told mainly from two female protagonists' point of view Toby and Ren (yes, Toby is a lady), with the occasional chapters told as announcements by a cult reader called Adam One, always followed with a hymn from "God's Gardeners Oral Hymnbook"Civilization is already in decline at the beginning of The Year of the Flood, with corporations running the country* instead of the government. In contrast to the more privileged central characters of Oryx and Crake both Toby and Ren are plebeians living in the shabby "pleeblands". Soon after they are introduced to the readers they find themselves in the hippy-ish environmentally very friendly God's Gardeners cult (or religious order). The God's Gardeners are preparing for a "waterless flood" which they believe God will cleanse the world with much as he did during Noah's time but without water, so building an Ark would be a complete waste of time and unkind to trees.The story is narrated in the first and third person presumably to aid the readers in distinguishing the narrative voices. It is also fitting that the more talkative younger character (Ren) should want to narrate her own story. However, Ms. Atwood is such a skilful writer that the entire book could have been told in the first or third person narrative without any confusion. The time line during most of the book is non-linear, the narrative seems to jump back and forth in time until I noticed the pattern of how Atwood has structured her book. In any case her narrative never caused any confusion because the author is well in control of what she is doing (and the year is indicated in the chapter headings).While reading the book I made a mental note to mention that the characters of Oryx and Crake are much more compelling, but by the end of The Year of the Flood I have come to love the two protagonists and some of the supporting characters (except the villains who we are supposed to hate so I duly hate them). I love how the two main narrative threads start of separately, intersect a bit, separate again and intertwine towards the end. It is an often seen narrative structure but Ms. Atwood did an elegant job of it here.For someone who claims not to write sci-fi** Margaret Atwood is no slouch at world building and imagined technology and species. I won't describe any of them, they are better discovered while reading the book. Atwood's writing is as beautiful, eloquent and witty as ever; I can't begrudge her wanting to be known as a literary fiction author when she writes like this. My only complaint are the hymns from "God's Gardeners Oral Hymnbook" which I lack the faculty to appreciate and I found that they play play hell with the pacing of the book. However, they are very short so they should not deter any potential readers. Hopefully that includes you.Notes:* Name of country not indicated.** Already mentioned in my Oryx and Crake review so I won't carp on about that again.Rating is probably about 4.5 stars (rounded up to 5 because I'm having a good day), while I think it is very good I find it less compelling than Oryx and Crake. That said the stars rating should not be taken too seriously by reviewers and review readers, they are by nature somewhat arbitrary. We are after all assigning a numerical value to something that can not be accurately measured in units.