Gabrielle's Reviews > The Year of the Flood

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
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Having survived that devastating plague Crake unleashed on the human race in "Oryx & Crake" (, Toby and Ren are now doing their best to survive the empty yet menacing cityscape they were stuck in when all Hell broke loose. Toby was rescued from a life of hardship and degradation by the Gardeners, a strange eco-cult that predicted the "Flood", as where Ren was made to join them when her mother ran off from a cushioned life to be with one of their leaders. The Gardeners are harmless enough: vegetarians, anti-technology and consumerism, they recycled many biblical stories to fit more seamlessly with the reality they found themselves in. But just as with any other cults, they can be inconsistent and creepy, and neither Toby nor Ren ever feels fully comfortable within their midst. The book explores their unlikely survival, but also life within the cult. Characters from “Oryx & Crake” appear, filling in some of the blanks of Jimmy's story.

Not so much as a sequel to the first MaddAddam book, "The Year of the Flood" is more a parallel to Jimmy's story, where we finally get to see how things were outside the compound where he lived and did his work; this narrative shift, from the perspective of a man on the inside, to two women on the outside, expands the world-building Atwood had started with “Oryx & Crake” beautifully and hauntingly. While it was originally published ten years ago, there are some eerily prescient elements to it: I shouldn’t be surprised, as Atwood is a remarkably perspective writer, who imagines how current trends might unfold in realistic and unsettling ways. The way she describes how much sharper the class division has become, for instance, is not that much of a stretch of the imagination, and the discourse on food and its provenance and “cleanliness” was already a concern when she wrote the book – a concern that has only gotten louder and stronger since. It is also not that hard to imagine that if a bunch of self-righteous and organized freegans got together and decided to form a cult around their principles, they would end up with something very much like the Gardeners.

As usual for an Atwood novel, the prose is gorgeous, fluid and evocative, and I just lost myself in it for a few days. Her cheeky humor also saves what could be a very grim story from being completely depressing. You will definitely get unpleasant shivers as you explore this eerily believable dystopia she created, but then you will also likely find yourself giggling at some of the absurdities humans cling to.

Is it as good as “Oryx & Crake”? I would tend to say yes, because it complements it so perfectly. The only weakness you can really find in it is that you already have an idea of where it's all going if you read the first book – so it lacks the excitement and tension I felt when I first read Jimmy’s story. But if you enjoyed the first book, the second is definitely a must-read. I know there are plenty of mixed opinions about the final installment of the trilogy, but I feel compelled to check it out anyway.

4 and half, rounded up.
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Reading Progress

September 1, 2016 – Shelved
September 1, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
September 1, 2016 – Shelved as: canadian
September 1, 2016 – Shelved as: sci-fi
September 1, 2016 – Shelved as: speculative-fiction
September 1, 2016 – Shelved as: own-a-copy
October 12, 2016 – Shelved as: post-apocalypse
February 13, 2019 – Started Reading
February 13, 2019 – Shelved as: dystopian
February 13, 2019 – Shelved as: read-in-2019
February 13, 2019 – Shelved as: used-bookstore-finds
February 14, 2019 –
page 154
February 15, 2019 –
page 305
February 16, 2019 –
page 443
February 16, 2019 – Shelved as: reviewed
February 16, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Cecily Excellent review. The first two books complement each other so well, despite the different styles. I assume you'll now read the third. I hope you enjoy it as much as the predecessors, though I suggest you set your expectations a notch below.

Gabrielle Cecily wrote: "Excellent review. The first two books complement each other so well, despite the different styles. I assume you'll now read the third. I hope you enjoy it as much as the predecessors, though I sugg..."

Thank you Cecily! I will definitely read it: I will keep your advice in mind :-)

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