I've been on a bit of a Margaret Atwood kick lately. After each handful of books I read by other authors, I start craving some Margaret Atwood. She always delivers with a unique and engrossing novel. For every Atwood novel I've read this year, I feel like I've gotten to know a new side of the author.
The Year of the Flood is Atwood's followup to Oryx and Crake, which I loved. Like Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood takes place in a world that is nothing like the one we know, but is so realistic and deeply complex that you can't help but be sucked into it. We are brought back to the same world Atwood portrayed in Oryx and Crake, but offered a refreshingly new perspective. I don't think I can explain this world that would make much sense, but it includes The Gardeners as led by Adam One, Painballers who are excruciatingly punished for their bad behavior, the corrupt and tyrannical CorpSeCorps, and Ren and Toby, two women who have survived the "waterless flood" and are the alternating narrators of the novel. While Oryx and Crake focused more on why the world became a disease ridden planet and its players, The Year of the Flood examines the everyday life of the humans trying to survive in this world.
I read Oryx and Crake back in August and while that wasn't too long ago, the story wasn't fresh in my head. I found myself wishing I had read it right before The Year of the Flood because at first I felt a little lost. I kept questioning my reading comprehension and finally just went with it. About half-way through the novel different elements started to piece together and the story became quite compelling.
They Year of the Flood speaks to the all-to-familiar complications of modern day technology, genetic engineering, consumerism and authoritarian corporations. In an author's note in the back of the book, Atwood writes, "The Year of the Flood is fiction, but the general tenancies and many of the details are alarmingly close to fact." For me, this is one of the reasons this story, and the dystopians Margaret Atwood creates, are so mind-blowing. These stories seem so far removed from today's world at a glance, but upon further reflection they could very well turn into our reality.
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2009