The Year of the Flood
The Year of the Flood was, in one word, disappointing – and I figured this might be the case from the first 20 pages. Why I stuck though the whole 500 of them…is really anybody’s guess. I suppose it’s something to do with misplaced feelings of guilt; but on the bright side – it’s an easy read, takes no more than a couple of mornings to go right through it.
That being said – what bugged me the most was the fact that it retroactively spoiled Oryx & Crake. It completes that universe, telling the story of the apocalyptic pandemic from the point of view of two other characters – but while, in theory, this added perspective should be enriching, it eventually turns out that in practice (or in Ms Atwood’s particular case) it diminishes the effect of the first book, making Jimmy and his plight a bit ridiculous. To go from assuming you are the last (or one of the last) remaining human beings on Earth (not counting the human-like creatures created by your best friend) to discovering that, not only you’re not the last, but there’s a survivors’ colony right in the neighborhood – it’s a bit of a wake-up call. Not to mention the overabundance of ‘coincidences’: how is it that every time a character seems lost he/she accidentally meets someone familiar, someone willing to lend a hand? It happened to Ren, it happened to Toby, to Shackie & Croze and, by the end, it looks like it happened to Adam One as well. Not to mention that Jimmy practically rescues two of his former girlfriends in one fell swoop and, by the end, everyone’s back together, one big happy group (or as happy as a group can be, under the circumstances). Just writing about it gets me all worked up again.
And I’m usually not this vehement in my posts, but I felt cheated. I can get over the fact that the pseudo-religion of God’s Gardeners and all the ‘green’ (almost) propaganda didn’t appeal to me – this is more of a personal preference – but with everything else, it felt like Ms. Atwood was having a little joke at the expense of whoever bothered to read the book.
Now that I’ve gotten this off my chest I can probably add that the book follows the themes from Oryx & Crake – the supremacy of genetic engineering, the overuse of the Earth’s resources, the new plastic reality from the compounds vs. the life in the impoverished pleeblands; and we meet familiar faces, too: Amanda & Ren (best friends, both known in Oryx & Crake as Jimmy’s girlfriends at various times in his life), the MaddAdam group (whose history was actually interesting), Glenn (Crake), etc. The characters here are more rounded, their drama is more real, more immediate, the bonds between them are forged through more than mere proximity (which was really the only thing that brought Jimmy & Crake together) – and this is, by far, the strongest aspect of the book.