191. The Year of the Flood

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
(a parallel novel to Oryx and Crake)

Pages: 431
Ages: 18+
Finished: Oct. 27, 2009
First Published: Sept. 22, 2009
Genre: post-apocalyptic, science fiction (no matter how much the author denies it)
Rating: 3/5

First sentence:

In the early morning Toby climbs up to the rooftop to watch the sunrise.

Reason for Reading: Atwood's new book. Qualifies for the Canadian Reading Challenge. Borrowed from my library.

Summary: A plague has wiped out the majority of the world and the God's Gardeners cult had been preparing for the end-times (the Waterless Flood) all along. Two women, who were members of God's Gardeners have survived the plague. One, Ren, because she was in an isolation unit (almost like an apartment) where she was recuperating after being abused by one of the patrons in the sex club where she worked and possibly contaminated. The other, Toby, had locked herself in the beauty spa (heavily secured corporation run) she was the manager of the night the plague hit full force. The story is told from three points of views. Ren's and Toby's with both of them telling their present situation and remembering their past life with the God's Gardener's. The third point of view comes from the past and follows the God's Gardeners year by year through sermons given by Adam One which end with a hymn.

Comments: I really enjoyed Oryx and Crake and dived into this book as soon as it came into the library for me. The book was a quick read. I always find Atwood's writing to flow so naturally her books are often hard to put down, and this was no exception. Ren and Toby are full, realistic characters, quite opposite in nature from each other but both emotionally draw the reader into their lives and thus the book. Atwood's feminist side shows through here as we see a comparison between the two women. Ren has been treated kindly then thrown aside and later used and abused by men because of her good looks while Toby has been used and abused and later ignored by men because of her plain looks.

The God's Gardeners cult was pretty creepy in my opinion. Atwood has created a religion which is Old Testament based, yet Pagan in nature and is full of Saint Days. While the group believes in an Old Testament God, they are eco friendly by worshipping animals and nature and are strictly vegan. Near the beginning she has a St. Mowat of the Wolves day and I said to myself, "Oh, Lord please do not let her have a St. David Suzuki day in here or I'm going to through this book across the room". He did appear, but fortunately it was near the end of the book and I held back my urge.

I would suggest reading Oryx and Crake first. The books are not dependant on each other but this one does reference many things from the first book and you are going to wandering around in the dark as either no explanations, or only brief ones are given. A very quick explanation of the events of the first book are summed up for you at the crucial point in Year of the Flood but a reader will be missing out on a whole book's worth of insider information if they journey into this without having read Oryx and Crake first.

Ultimately though, I was disappointed with book. It was a good enough book. Fans of Oryx and Crake will have to read it to find out the rest of the story. But I just didn't get into the story that much. It wasn't a page turner, even though it read quick enough. The plot kept moving forward but there never was any real suspense, reveals, moments of great emotion or climax even to satisfy. Well, there is a climax and an ending but they are small and weak and I ended the book with a "hmmph".

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  1. I just started this yesterday, and I wondered about reading Oryx and Crake first. I found out it was a sequel just a little too late! :-) Since it's a library book, I'll go with it anyway, but I'll keep in mind that certain things are missing for me.


  2. Lezlie - I'll be interested in hearing how it goes for someone coming in without the info from Oryx and Crake. Who knows, it may be more enjoyable *not* having all the insider info?!

    It's not really a sequel, anyway, since the books run concurrently in time.

  3. I have yet to read a Margaret Atwood book, but I think I added Wilderness Tips to my list not too long ago.

  4. Too bad that it didn't live up to your expectations. I will be reading it in the next few months.

  5. Yeah, I didn't enjoy this as much as I was planning to, but it was good...

  6. Sorry this one was disappointing. It's sitting on my desk waiting to be read, but I have to read Oryx and Crake first.

    Diary of an Eccentric


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