I will admit it…I am a huge Atwood fan. So when I heard that one of her books, “The Year of the Flood” had been chosen for the Canada Reads 2014 debate, it was just another excuse to pick up the book again. I actually read this second book in the trilogy a few months ago as I was readying for the release of the third book, “MaddAddam”. But I saw “Year of the Flood” differently this time around as I was reading it through the Canada Reads 2014 theme, a book to change the nation, instead of just reading it for pleasure. I will give my thoughts on its relation to that debate in a couple of weeks when I have finished Edugyan’s book. For now, I will give you my review of all three of the MaddAddam trilogy as I intended to do back in the fall (but fell off the blogging wagon for a bit).
These three novels take place in the near future where corporations have replaced governments and scientific experiments dominate the societal landscape. This worldwide dominance of corporate influence and dependence on chemical therapy make it easy for a plague, referred to as the Waterless Flood, to wipe out most of mankind. In book one, “Oryx and Crake”, we see this new world through Snowman’s eyes and receive insight into the events that led to this plague through his pre-apocalyptic identity, Jimmy. Through Jimmy’s stories centered in the Compounds, we are introduced to the Corporation world and meet Crake, his best friend and scientific mastermind, and Oryx, the woman they both love. This book sets the stage for our understanding of this futuristic world and why the plague was released upon the world hidden in a pill. In book two, “The Year of the Flood”, the story is told from the Pleeblands through Toby and Ren. The two women are connected through a green religious cult called God’s Gardeners, and their narrations explore their lives before, during and after the God’s Gardeners. We also read of their experiences in the post-pandemic world; their struggle to survive with leftover people, escaped strange animals, and an absence of societal structure. The stories of book one and book two converge together at the end, and book three “MaddAddam” picks up the converging of the narrators’ stories. The third novel, provides the background story of Adam and Zeb, central to God’s Gardeners, and delves further into the communities surviving in the post-plague world. The crisises in this novel centre on dealing with the Pigoons (pig spliced with human cells), surviving Painballers (criminals sentenced to gladiator tournaments), and guiding the Children of Crake (genetically modified humans designed by Crake to create a better world after the plague).
That is just a basic summary of what these novels are about. The long and short of this review is….read these books. They are creative, brilliantly written, heart-warming, frightening, hilarious, and action-filled. Atwood creates characters with depth whom I cared about and wanted to know more of their journeys and their struggles.
One of the things I love most about Atwood is how she takes the world we recognize and pushes it one step further to show us a possible future. We already live in a world where we are culturally dependent and governments are completely influenced by corporations. Atwood just imagines a world where what few perimeters are in place against corporations are taken away, and they openly run the world. We already live in a world where organs are being grown from human cells and chickens are genetically modified to increase meat and decrease features unnecessary for human consumption. Atwood imagines those concepts taken one step further where an organization called OrganInc Farms exists solely for growing organs and chicken breasts (known as ChickieNobs) are grown on a plant-like organism. And then Atwood thoughtfully explores what if a world like this imploded on itself, how would people who are dependent on corporations and chemicalized products survive. It is amazing how even in these dire circumstances, hope remains and people find a healthy way to interact with each other and the new world they live in. Nature begins to regain its territory and humans find a way to survive.
I could ramble on for pages about these books; I haven’t even touched on the God’s Gardeners’ hymns in “Year of the Flood” or the hilarious Children of Crake storytime in “MaddAddam” or the significance in the different chapter labeling for each book. So I encourage you to read these books and experience all of the creativity of Atwood yourself.
4.5/5 bacon strips for the whole series
(5/5 for “Oryx and Crake”, 4.5/5 for “The Year of the Flood”, 4/5 for “MaddAddam”)