I seem to be in the minority here, but I...very much did not love this. I mean, a disappointing Margaret Atwood book is still better than most other tI seem to be in the minority here, but I...very much did not love this. I mean, a disappointing Margaret Atwood book is still better than most other things published, but this was not at all the conclusion to the series I was hoping for.
(view spoiler)[I just can't wrap my head around why she chose to go in this direction. Nothing really happened in this book, and the nothing all led up to a conclusion that seemed totally pointless, especially in the grand scheme of things. Arguably, nothing really happened in the first two books, either, but all of the glorious back-story of how things got to be as they were was fascinating, and it felt like we were leading up to something worthwhile. At no point in the first two books did I assume that the final, series-ending conflict would revolve around offing a couple of Painballers. That's it? After all of Crake's schemes, after the world ends, after 99% of the people in the world are destroyed, the climax is killing two nameless ex-cons? Especially in a battle that mostly takes place off-screen? ...Really? I'm sure she was attempting to make a larger point here about human nature, but it just seemed unworthy of all the work she'd put into the story beforehand.
Larger point: I'm pretty sure she had no intention of making this a trilogy. I know nothing about the writing process of these books, but after reading the third, the second two books just feel like one giant retcon. I was actually really floored when I initially realized Oryx and Crake even had a sequel--that book felt so complete and perfect to me. The ending with Jimmy, finally realizing he wasn't alone in the world, ready to take that first step into the unknown, couldn't have been better. It didn't need a sequel, let alone two, especially with a series-ender that would ruin the whole thing. Now, I liked The Year of the Flood, and I liked the way it fleshed out the world from a different perspective than Jimmy's. I had assumed, however, that once the storylines converged, it would result in a satisfying ending. Something bigger, something more. Honestly, it seems like she wrote Oryx and Crake, realized she had an opportunity to make a point, and then wrote a storyline that would vaguely hang around it, rather than letting the story, and what would make sense within that story, dictate what she was to say. It feels like she did a disservice to her own story, and that is unfortunate.
The whole point of the trilogy was to make the world safe for the Crakers? Wait, really? Why were three books and, in the end, a huge amount of irrelevant backstory, necessary for that? Why even bother introducing other characters? In the first book, the world is at an end, everyone but Jimmy and the Crakers are dead, no bad people exist. Boom, problem solved. Taking the first book alone, the world was safe for the Crakers! Crake succeeded! The conflicts were introduced in and exist solely in the sequels. I know, I know, she's making bigger points, but I truly think every point she wanted to make was done so beautifully and most interestingly in Oryx and Crake. Everything that came afterwards robbed it of its poignancy, and turned it into sappy clichés. Work together, racial/ethnic(?) cooperation is best, be excellent to each other. I really thought the story deserved better than that.
By the by, I find it irresponsible that the Crakers get to essentially be the ultimate heroes of this thing without either really discussing exactly how reprehensible Crake's actions were, nor exactly how disturbing some of the Craker's actions were. "Cultural misunderstandings"? For fuck's sake.
Let's talk about the "connections," shall we? I usually like it when authors do this--make all of the characters connected in interesting ways. This was pointless and implausible. So...basically everyone in the world dies, except for Jimmy and every single person he's ever met? Oh, ok. Some of them worked fine--Crake knowing Pilar from a former life, Ren and Jimmy dating, etc. I was even basically ok with Ren's former Gardener friend (I can't remember her name!) ending up as Jimmy's crazy roommate, implausible though it was. The first one that really annoyed me was realizing that Amanda was the Amanda from book one, and that Ren and Amanda both dated/loved Jimmy. After that, the hits just kept coming: The Gardeners sheltering Jimmy's mom, Adam somehow ridiculously knowing that Katrina Woo Woo chick, Mordis, Amanda not only being apparently the only person outside to live but also to find Ren, Shackleton and Crozier happening by the club, Blanco's entire existence. When all is said and done, Oryx's entire history. I legitimately put the book down and walked away when I realized she'd pointlessly, stupidly, resurrected Wakula fucking Price. Even the damn pigoons got to be interconnected! It all got so eye-rollingly absurd after awhile, especially when you realize these are the only people left in the world. Out of the 6 billion or so people on the planet, these specific people, who just happened to know each other in random and ridiculous ways, were the only ones who survived and they all just happened to end up in the exact same tiny geographic location. It's like she wasn't even trying to make it make sense.
Also, can we talk about how this book totally destroyed the characterization of the first two books? Jimmy, our protagonist from the first book, was relegated to a background character, at best. I had assumed that the storylines converging meant that this book would either be from his point of view, or the pov would be split, but no dice. Poor, sad, dumb but loveable Jimmy spent most of the book in a coma until getting casually killed at the end, off-screen. Just...why? Also, Toby. I had no real issue with Toby being the main pov character again in this novel. Well, awesome, kick-ass Toby from The Year of the Flood, that is. Not...whatever the hell this was. Why is Toby suddenly a whiny, clingy, love-sick Lifetime movie character? Why was Ren, also a former pov character, also relegated to background territory? Her most memorable appearances in the book were playing nursemaid and a horrific (yet oddly yada-yada-yada'd) rape-induced pregnancy (Oh, those silly Crakers! Ugh). Most importantly, who actually gives a hot damn about Zeb and his backstory?
I think this is the big crux of my problem with this book and, now that it's complete and this is its ending, the series as a whole. Naming the trilogy "Maddaddam," having Crake discover and be obsessed with the game, dubbing Zeb with the nickname "Maddaddam," naming this book after it, all indicated it was building toward something bigger. Some sort of big conspiracy, or...something. At the end of the day, Maddaddam was totally and completely irrelevant. There was no big picture. Just a fucked up kid with nihilistic tendencies who was given too much control and free time. Obviously, there's a point to be made there, but why all the Maddaddam bullshit? After the second book, after learning the kids called Zeb Maddaddam and seeing that he had something vital to do with the Maddaddam website, I thought maybe he was the mastermind behind it all. Somehow this was his whole grand plan, that he'd duped Crake and made him end the world so he could take over. Or something along those vague lines. Then, in the third book, when we learn that Adam was actually the one who brought Zeb into the world of Maddaddam, I thought maybe it was actually Adam who was behind it all. Either of those books would have been very good, made sense within the context of the story already established, and created a satisfying ending to this weird and mind-bending trilogy. But no. Maddaddam ended up being a non-entity. We never even figure out a) who created it (only that it wasn't Zeb or Adam), or b) why the kids called Zeb Maddaddam. How would they have even known about that, cut off from the world as they were? They wouldn't have. The whole Maddaddam thing ended up being nothing more than a convenient and hilariously contrived way to connect all of the characters and make them interact with each other. There's nothing "bigger" to it.
I don't know what she was attempting here, but she did it under the guise of a genre novel, without actually putting the story together in any coherent way. And, like I said earlier, knowing that kills the entire series for me, and robs it of its poignancy. She made clear what she wanted to say in the first book, and she did it better and more succinctly there than anything the sequels managed. Everything else was overkill and drudgery. (hide spoiler)]
Moral of the story: Read Oryx and Crake, for it is excellent, then pretend the sequels don't exist. The Year of the Flood was wonderful, too, but reading it will probably make you want to read the third. Resist the impulse. It's not worth it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book is absolutely perfect for fans of the show! Biographies, in-depth episode analysis (only for the first seReceived via Goodreads First Reads!
This book is absolutely perfect for fans of the show! Biographies, in-depth episode analysis (only for the first season, unfortunately), connections, etc. It's probably pretty useless for someone who isn't a fan of the show (or possibly for someone who only likes the books), but excellent for people who are really geeky about the show :)...more