The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

The Year of the Flood Margaret AtwoodI really enjoyed Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood a couple of years ago and have finally got round to reading the second book in her acclaimed MaddAddam trilogy ‘The Year of the Flood’. Set in the same universe as ‘Oryx and Crake’, ‘The Year of the Flood’ follows a lower class eco-religious cult known as the God’s Gardeners and their alternative perspective of the same apocalypse. Only two women from the community, Toby and Ren, survive the catastrophe which was predicted years earlier by the Gardeners who coined it the Waterless Flood.

Dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction isn’t usually my genre of choice but it feels more relevant than ever at the moment. Looking past all the strange names for characters, places and objects in this speculative universe reveals a lot of intriguing parallels with the world as it is today or could become in the future. Atwood has previously said that any aspect of the setting depicted in the MaddAddam trilogy has the potential to turn into reality depending on how the technology that exists today is developed in the coming decades. Indeed, the reference to a Wall being built to keep the Tex-Mexican refugees out because a fence on its own wasn’t enough suggests that certain aspects of Atwood’s speculation may not be so far from coming true.

More of a companion novel than a chronological sequel or prequel, ‘The Year of the Flood’ initially has very little character cross-over with ‘Oryx and Crake’. However, more elements from the first book are gradually introduced and it is eventually revealed how Jimmy and Glenn became known as Snowman and Crake respectively. Much of ‘The Year of the Flood’ focuses on what happened to Toby and Ren and how they came to join the God’s Gardeners before disease wipes out the majority of the population. Their stories raise important questions about the impact of consumerism, environmental disasters, genetic engineering, powerful conglomerates and gender politics.

By expanding on the themes and ideas introduced in ‘Oryx and Crake’, ‘The Year of the Flood’ is inevitably more sprawling and less focused than the first book of the series and, unsurprisingly, it remains unrelentingly bleak in the way that post-apocalyptic novels often are. However, Atwood’s ability to explore both the satirical and the sinister elements in her speculative fiction with such intelligence and inventiveness is completely unmatched. I look forward to reading the third and final book in the series ‘MaddAddam’.


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24 responses to “The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

  1. I adored Oryx & Crake but have yet to read this one. Sounds like it’s just as good.


  2. Although I love reading Atwood, I haven’t read any of this trilogy yet – thanks for the review, more books to sit by my bed!


  3. I read Oryx and Crake, but not this title. That’s about par for the course, as I’ve read approximately half of Atwood’s output. I have to be in the mood for her.


  4. I liked this one even better than oryx and crake. I actually read them out of order (flood first, then oryx, then maddaddam) and it all still flowed nicely. Atwood is one of my all time faves!


    • Yes because TYOTF and O&C are set over the same time period before the apocalypse, I agree that it doesn’t matter that much which order you read them in. I definitely want to read more of her books in the future 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Atwood is amazing. Hamdmaids Tale is classic, and her series The Heart Goes Last was wacky weird and fun. I’m constantly impressed that she was born in the 1930’s yet can still write a novel that is very current. Her evolution as a writer is astounding.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hmmm. I’ve only read “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Atwood but might pick this series up at some point. All the doom and gloom, though! :-/


  6. I am reading Oryx and Crake right now and am loving it at about half way through. It’s good to know that the second book is a good read too.


  7. Sounds a good book ,never let me go is quite dystopian it’s an amazing novel


  8. I loved this whole trilogy. I think you’ll enjoy the last one – I found it the most humorous of the three. (Although the second one might remain my favourite.)


  9. I am a devotee of Margaret Atwood. Thought I haven’t read the MaddAddam trilogy, I have loved The Blind Assassin, Alias Grace and The Handmaid’s Tale. You are right – she seems to have a foresight! Thanks for the review.


  10. I haven’t read Orynx and Crake but reading this review and the comments makes me really want to. I’ve added it to my TBR and I hope to get to it soon!


  11. I just read Oryx and Crake. I understand that these books can be read separately, which I hope is not an indicator that there won’t be the answers that I am hoping to find. I feel better that you mentioned that there are at least the mention of the promise with the characters past at least being included.
    I don’t often read this sort of thing either, but I tell you, I really liked the first book and am so glad that I took the chance. It really does seem timely, doesn’t it?


  12. Pingback: MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood | A Little Blog of Books

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