The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

October 16, 2009 at 3:13 pm 1 comment

the-year-of-the-floodPub Date: September 2009

Fiction (Adult)

448 pgs.

Margaret Atwood has done it again with her meaty, thought-provoking and incredibly compelling new novel, The Year of the Flood.  Related to her 2003 novel Oryx and Crake (although it is not a sequel, and it can certainly be read as a stand-alone novel), Flood features some of the same characters, as Atwood develops the back stories of both major and minor Oryx characters.  Flood ends in approximately the same spot as the earlier book, although Atwood has taken an entirely different route to get us there.

I enjoyed Oryx, although I ultimately found it quite depressing, and it took me a little while to get through.  Devouring Flood in a single weekend, however, I found that it was resonating with me more than its predecessor. Perhaps because I found the characters more interesting, or perhaps because the situation portrayed in this novel is even closer to reality than it was six years ago, when Oryx was released. As Atwood herself stated in an interview,

“When Oryx and Crake came out, it seemed to many like science fiction–way out there, too weird to be possible–but in the three years that passed before I began writing The Year of the Flood, the perceived gap between that supposedly unreal future and the harsh one we might very well live through was narrowing fast. What is happening to our world? What can we do to reverse the damage? How long have we got? And, most importantly–what kind of “we”?”

Atwood is a storyteller first and foremost, and in The Year of the Flood we are introduced to two former members of an ecologically aware organization, called God’s Gardeners, that melds science and religion. The Gardners preach non-violence, resourcefulness and respect for all living things, but are dismissed by others as a “greenie cult.” Toby is a longtime member-turned-health spa worker, and Ren is a young exotic dancer.  The “Waterless Flood”–a deadly plague foretold by the Gardners–has arrived, destroying most of the human life.  Toby, Ren and other survivors must find each other in the aftermath of this disaster, and Atwood takes us along as they explore their present and remember their pasts.

Atwood’s frequently disturbing subject matter may be off-putting to some, but she is such a fantastic writer that I urge you to pick up this or another one of her books, and to let yourself into her dark, beautiful worlds. This book will make you think.  It will grab you and not let go.

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Entry filed under: Becky's Picks, Fiction (Adult), New releases, Science Fiction.

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