“The Year of the Flood” by Margaret Atwood
Anyone who enjoys both pre- and post-apocalyptic stories in the same novel.
Everyone knows that there are countless stories about the end of human society and what would happen in its aftermath. To find one that rises above the rest and forges its own place among the many is unique and quite satisfying. In her MaddAddam trilogy, Margaret Atwood attempts to do just that and, in our opinion, has succeeded with flying colors in her first two installments. The second, “The Year of the Flood,” gives the backstory of how the different strata within society found themselves just before it all was devastated by a catastrophic plague that left the world in ruin (as is explored in the first novel, “Oryx and Crake”). In this novel, Atwood manages to tell a whole new story that ensnares the reader while bringing to light and explaining some of the questions raised in the previous book.
The story mainly follows two women, Toby and Ren, who have managed to survive the “flood” of plague that seems to have decimated the rest of the visible world. Their dual narrations alternate between updates of the present and explanations of their pasts and how they came to arrive at their current state. Both stories revolve around the fanatical religious sect that calls itself The Gardeners. Each of the girls’ stories has been radically altered by their interaction and reliance on the religious community and its leader, Adam One, at different times in their lives.
The Gardeners stand for an extreme return to the basics. They adamantly reject all of the technological advances that have become so commonplace for the time and strive for self-sustainability, regardless of how that makes the public view them. The novel is broken up by the occasional motivational speech from Adam One in celebration of some sort of sacred holiday of their creation, always accompanied by a long and unsatisfying hymn. Although they are seen as outsiders and regarded as weirdos by the whole of common society, they are also quite accepting and wish to extend their aid to all who require it, as long as they can at least feign some faith in the cause.
The story takes the reader through the tragedy and the aftermath. It also manages to pull in pieces from the previous installation (also highly recommended reading) and have them make sense in the scheme of what has previously taken place. Toward the end of the novel, the story meets up with the end of the last book and provides just enough new information to pull in the reader and make him or her desperate for the final book — set to be released later this summer.
Image Source: Friends Shop of the Greenville County Library under Creative Commons.
Contact Mackenzie Bedford at [email protected]