The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood
In a world driven by shadowy, corrupt corporations and the uncontrolled development of new, gene-spliced life forms, a man-made pandemic occurs, obliterating human life. Two people find they have unexpectedly survived: Ren, a young dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails (the cleanest dirty girls in town), and Toby, solitary and determined, who has barricaded herself inside a luxurious spa, watching and waiting. The women have to decide on their next move—they can’t stay hidden forever. But is anyone else out there?
This is a review of book #2 in a trilogy. The review is spoiler-free, but you might want to check out my thoughts on book #1: Oryx and Crake.
Review: The Year of the Flood is book #2 of the MaddAddam trilogy, but it is more of a companion novel than a sequel. It has a new cast of characters, and the events take place at the same time as the events in the first book. You could probably read this novel as a standalone without getting confused.
While book #1 focuses on the privileged upper-class of a dystopian society, the second book centers on lower-class characters. It follows Toby (a fast-food employee on the run from her abusive boss), and Ren (a dancer in a sex club). Their lives intersect when they both join a fringe doomsday religion called God’s Gardeners. Their Gardner training helps them survive the plague that was unleased in the first book.
The Year of the Flood is easily one of my favorite dystopian novels ever.
Like all of Margaret Atwood’s books, this one is beautifully written. The characters are complex, believable, and well-developed. The world-building is awesome. I especially like all of the details about God’s Gardeners. The group has some strange beliefs, but they still feel very realistic.
There is more action in this book than in the previous one. The characters live in a city where violence is common and the police are corrupt. I love that book #2 has more action, but I actually like book #1 better. Toby and Ren aren’t as interesting as Snowman, Oryx, and Crake. The characters in the first book are extremely compelling. I couldn’t get enough of them. Toby and Ren seem slightly bland by comparison. I think this is because they are just reacting to the events that the characters in the first book set in motion. The reactions aren’t quite as fascinating as the events themselves.
The only thing that really bothers me about the book is the number of coincidences. The characters keep running into each other at convenient times. I know that they all live in the same area, but I still find it hard to believe that they could find each other so easily after the plague hits and the city descends into chaos.
The best part of The Year of the Flood is when the reader gets to see the characters from book #1 through the eyes of Toby and Ren. I got ridiculously excited whenever Snowman, Oryx, or Crake showed up. I enjoyed seeing them from new perspectives.
No matter how many times I reread this trilogy, I still love it. I’m going to reread the third book now.