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Monday Book Review: The Year of the Flood November 9, 2009

Posted by pupfiction in Book Reviews.
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The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood, considered by some to be a sequel to 2003’s Oryx and Crake, can be considered more of a companion work. Though some of the same characters turn up in both, the settings of both The Year of the Flood and Oryx and Crake are contemporaneous, and it is not until the very last scene that the two converge. Whereas Oryx and Crake took the “majority” point of view, visualizing what Earth’s last days look like before a lethal pandemic from the point of view of scientists, academia, and the CorpSeCorps, a commerical police group that basically rules the world; The Year of the Flood, takes the point of view of the “minority”, both the world outside the secure corporate-run, gated neighborhoods (which are more like cities) and more particularly, the reactionary “God’s Gardeners” who disagree with the way animals, food, and the world in general are being “manufactured” (yes, animals are being manufactured).

Atwood, as usual, is engaging, poignant, and even wise in her imparting of knowledge on the cultivation of foods and the celebration of different “Saint’s Days”, all of which are named after ecologists, animal right activists, humanitarians, etc.  The construction of the story is captivating as well: Atwood follows the lives of two young women survivors, Toby and Ren, jumping back and forth from their present post-apocalyptic struggles to their lives, nearly from childhood, in the recently destroyed dystopian world in which they were living.

While parts of the novel seem slightly contrived to fit better with Oryx and Crake, and the hymns of God’s Gardeners seem superfluous (though beautifully constructed), the book was an honest look at what we are doing to our planet. And though most of the planet’s population way be wiped out, it surprisingly ends on a hopeful note.




1. Weekend Reader - November 10, 2009

This will be our book club’s January selection. As a longtime Atwood fan, I can hardly wait to read it. I’m wondering if there are parallels with Cormac McCarthy’s The Road – another futuristic, apocolyptic novel.

Thanks for the review!

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