Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

When I first read about The Year of the Flood, and that it takes place in the same world as Oryx and Crake, I was intrigued. The world of these two books is a future of our world, around fifty years in the future, I think. So much of it is very similar, and what isn't the same as our world is still recognizable. I read Oryx and Crake when it came out a few years ago. I liked it, but it did not become a favorite of mine. It stuck with me, and yet it did not mean very much to me. As a result, I did not remember many details.
As a result, it took me a while to recognize that The Year of the Flood not only takes place in the same world as Oryx and Crake, but it also takes place over pretty much the exact same time period. The Year of the Flood is not a sequel, nor is Oryx and Crake a prequel - they are more like companion novels. I may have to go back and reread Oryx and Crake now, as I feel like I may see it in a different light.
I love Margaret Atwood's writing style. The Handmaid's Tale is my favorite book, and I have read many of her other books over the years. In this book, as in all of her others, Atwood simply drops you right into the story, and begins to describe the world from the point of view of one or more of the characters. In a science fiction-like story such as this one, this makes things a bit disorienting at first. Atwood leaves it up to her readers to piece together the meanings of many words - although the world is very similar to ours, many things exist in it that do not in our time, and so there are new words for many objects and ideas. But Atwood is an excellent writer, allowing the reader to pick up on these things as she goes along.
The Year of the Flood is told from the points of view of two different characters, Toby and Ren, who have both survived the plague that wiped out humanity, known as the Waterless Flood. Interspersed between their chapters are sermons given by the leader of the Gods Gardeners, Adam One. Toby and Ren give us a picture of what their life is in the present tense, as well as telling us about their past. The stories of their pasts move forward until at the end of the book, they meet with the present. I always really enjoy this novel structure, as it is suspenseful in a way, but you also know the ending.
I would have to say that I liked this book a lot better than Oryx and Crake, but it would be really interesting to reread that one now that I've read this one. They are incredibly different books, told by characters who are vastly different from each other, and experience the world in a very different way. Atwood's views of the future are always interesting, and are critical of many aspects of our present societies. I highly recommend this book to everyone, not just fans of her work.


Charley said...

The only Atwood I have read is her short story The Hairball. I hope to read The Handmaid's Tale soon.

stiletto storytime said...

I really enjoyed this one as well. The Handmaid's Tale is still probably my favorite though! Thanks for the review.