Molly's Reviews > I'm Starved for You
by Margaret Atwood (Goodreads Author)
bookshelves: kindle, speculative-fiction, recommended, literary-fiction, kindle-single, 4-and-a-half-stars, read-in-2012
Having read a great deal of terrible "hopping on the The Hunger Games bandwagon" YA recently, I was incredibly relieved to see that I don't actually have dystopia fatigue. I have bad dystopia fatigue. When done properly, the genre can still feel new and fresh and not at all derivative. While I still wish Atwood would hurry up and write the final book of the Oryx and Crake trilogy, this was a nice way to spend an afternoon. Atwood proves that you don't need clunky exposition or pages and pages of backstory in order to make a dystopia work. In (probably) less than 100 pages, she creates a completely believable world, in which people live in "shifts." They spend one month living in a normal house with their spouse, and one month working in what is essentially a prison while their alternates take over the house. This is all an experiment and so far it appears to be working. Until one day Stan finds a folded up note under the refrigerator reading "I'm starved for you," which sets his mind spinning. He creates an entire fantasy about the Alternates who live in the house while he and his wife are inside the prison, and we spend much of the story in his head as he lives out various fantasies.
The world-building here is quick (established through Stan's memories of joining the experiment, called Consilience) but no less powerful. It could very well take place in the same world as Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, just in a different location. The characters in both novels mention societies living in protected areas...Consilience could very well be one of them. Or maybe I just want it to be because I'm still hoping for one last volume in that series! Anyway, this isn't so much a true dystopia as a piece of speculative fiction. This is something could conceivably happen, but hasn't yet. But we have all of the technology for it to come to pass in the not-so-distant future. Stan and co, however, are still living in the utopian part of the experiment. It hasn't yet progressed to the level of dystopia, since nothing has gone wrong. Yet.
I'm obviously a total Atwood fangirl, and I will read pretty much anything she writes, but this to me was the ultimate showcase of her narrative prowess. She is able to create a whole world in far less space than a traditional novel (this is true of her poetry as well, which is equally beautiful). She has a gift.