Lauren's Reviews > The Year of the Flood

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
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Dec 17, 09

bookshelves: audiobooks, speculative-fiction, library-loan
Read in December, 2009

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.



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Reading Progress

12/05/2009 page 70
16.24% "I love that minor characters in Oryx and Crake are being "fleshed" out in this one. So far, this is great."
12/05/2009 page 140
32.48% "this is getting so good..."
12/06/2009 page 220
51.04% "Familiar characters popping up. I think I am enjoying this one even more than Oryx and Crake, but they really do go together... amazing." 1 comment

Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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Leeann I already wanted to read this but now I really can't wait!! It's been a while since Oryx & Crake, though, so I suppose I'll re-read that first.


Lauren Yeah, you could pick it up and skim through - I know you will get more out of the 2nd one if the 1st is fresh in your mind. I can't wait to hear what you think. I really want to discuss this one more!




Suzanne You said it all so, so well. Atwood blew my mind regularly with The Year of the Flood (the saints kept me laughing and reaching for Google, many I did not know).

Great review--I'll be starting Oryx and Crake soon (I do tend to do things backwards.)



Lauren I am definitely excited to hear what you think about Oryx and Crake after reading the two in that order. Thanks a lot for the comment!




message 5: by Rachel (new) - added it

Rachel Thanks for such a great review! I'm a huge Atwood fan and read Oryx and Crake years ago and thought it was an outstanding book. The reviews of her latest have been quite polar though and I've been hesitant to pick it up. Your review helped make that decision (and reinforced what I already assumed...that I should do a reread through O&C first!).


Ramona She came to Albuquerque about a month ago for a reading and she was amazing!


Lauren Ramona wrote: "She came to Albuquerque about a month ago for a reading and she was amazing!"

I was out of the town when she was in DC... I would have loved to see her. Luckily, I heard a great radio interview with her about the book - she sang one of the God's Gardeners songs on the air. It was the "Mole Day" song :)



Lauren Rachel wrote: "Thanks for such a great review! I'm a huge Atwood fan and read Oryx and Crake years ago and thought it was an outstanding book. The reviews of her latest have been quite polar though and I've been..."

Hesitate no longer! I think you will really like it - it has some really amazing things about biology and predator/prey relationships, etc. Sounds right up your alley :) A quick reread/skim of Oryx and Crake is definitely worth it... but you could try it without. Can't wait to hear what you think.




message 9: by Dana * (new) - added it

Dana * Lolly, you are a reading machine. Thanks for the synopsis.


Suzanne So glad that reading them in "order" really enhanced the understanding. I knew when I came to the part with Oryx and Crake in the Scales and Tales I was only eavesdropping, getting an outsiders view of what was happening. And when we meet the new race of people the details are only hinted at, at the end.

I am going to have so many AHA! moments when I read O&C.


Taueret thanks for the review. I read O&C when it first came out and liked but didn't LOVE it. I had better reread it before taking this one on! This is going to the top of my list, it sounds awesome.


Lauren Taueret wrote: "thanks for the review. I read O&C when it first came out and liked but didn't LOVE it. I had better reread it before taking this one on! This is going to the top of my list, it sounds awesome."

Reading Year of the Flood right after made me love Oryx and Crake. I really hope you enjoy it as much as I did.




message 13: by Maya (new) - rated it 5 stars

Maya I just finished Oryx and Crake and considering jumping right into this one. I presume you would recommend that path considering your reviews?


Lauren @ Maya - most definitely. Like I said in the review, I think it helped reading them so closely. And while I liked Year of the Flood better, it really was because the context started in Oryx and Crake. Enjoy :)


message 15: by Jocelyn (new) - added it

Jocelyn Your review is so interesting, Lauren. I remember how Atwood described it as a "simultanial" to Oryx and Crate.


message 16: by Zee (new) - rated it 3 stars

Zee Excellent review. I'm reading this a few years after 'Oryx and Crake' and was getting deja vu. Now I know why! It's those minor characters coming back to me. I must go back to it again. I'll certainly check out Atwoods' webpage for those hymns and try to get an audio version of the book too.


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