What a great continuation of this series! And for a middle novel of a trilogy it definitely held its own which is not always the case. I also enjoyed reading Atwood from a different angle, although it was only a tiny bit different from her other books.
As I mentioned in my Oryx and Crake review every book I’ve read by Atwood has a single narrator who tells their story through a series of flashbacks. This book continues that theme, but rather than it being the same narrator there are two narrators, Ren and Toby, in this book telling their stories.
However, there were again SO many similarities. Each of the narrators, similar to Snowman/Jimmy, experiences the post-apocalyptic world in isolation until about midway through the novel. So looking back at all the characters of Atwood, they’re all isolated (physically, mentally and emotionally) and they all tell their stories from their own perspective. But this is not a bad thing! Atwood gets into each of her character’s minds and creates believable and unique characters which are amazing mirrors of humanity.
The Year of the Flood takes place simultaneously as Oryx and Crake, but where the first book takes place inside the compounds of the Corporations, this book takes place in the ‘pleeblands’ (Atwood comes up with some great words)! This book is significantly darker in that what the two characters face is much more overtly dangerous/damaging than what Snowman/Jimmy faced, but at the same time they start in a much harsher environment.
As with the last novel, this novel shows how great Atwood is at taking our current society and technology and moving it just far enough into the future that everything is believable without suspending disbelief. In creating the God’s Gardeners she took aspects of many green groups that exist today. Even the creation and splitting off of the militant/disorderly MaddAddam group is spot on as you have the much more active anti-corporation/pro-flora and fauna groups in today’s society (like when people through paint on fur coats or chain themselves to reactors). Atwood’s speculative fiction is terrifyingly real and only serves to highlight the issues she sees to be important as the world moves forward in this ever technological and scientific age.
Recommendation: DEFINITELY need to read this one. This book is different enough from the first and brings in a couple of the characters from the first, but it fills out the world so much more. We now have both sides of the world and a vision of where the book could potentially go, but there’s no telling. I’m so excited about MaddAddam.
Opening Line: “In the early morning Toby climbs up to the rooftop to watch the sunrise.”
Closing Line: “Now we can see the flickering of their torches, winding towards us through the darkness of the trees.” (Whited out.)
Additional Quotes from The Year of the Flood
“Thus the time passed. Toby stopped counting it. In any case, time is not a thing that passes, said Pilar: it’s a sea on which you float.” (101)
“I could see how you could do extreme things for the person you loved. Adam One said that when you loved a person, that love might not always get returned the way you wanted, but it was a good thing anyway because love went out all around you like an energy wave, and a creature you didn’t even know would be helped by it.” (225)
“It would be nice to believe that love should be dished out in a fair way so that everyone got some. But that wasn’t how it was going to be for me.” (301)