Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review of The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brilliant book which is perfect for the times we live in. It's message is that humanity through action or inaction will destroy itself. The book mainly concentrates on genetic engineering but has society slowly decaying from lack of resources in the background.

I read this novel because it is a prequel to the equally brilliant Oryx and Crake - which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The Year of the Flood shows how civilisation collapsed and humanity died out before the story of one of the few survivors begins in Oryx and Crake.

The world is dominated by giant corporations. These corporations are heavily into genetic engineering. There are many genetically engineered animals created in place of the many extinct animals like pandas and platypus. Humans are genetically engineered mainly for aesthetic reasons.

The novel begins after the waterless flood occurs and then takes us back a decade or so earlier to show how the flood happened. The story concentrates on a girl and woman whose end up at an environmental cult called the Gardeners. The Gardeners are vegans who recycle everything. They survive on food grown on a huge rooftop garden and anything they can scavenge.

Ren's mother deserted her father and took her to live with a Gardener. Her story is told from her early teens. Toby's story begins just as she reaches adulthood. She works in a burger joint that sells secret burgers. They are called secret burgers because you never know what their ingredients might include. Toby is rescued from a rapist manager by the Gardeners.

Adam one leads the Gardeners. His sermons connecting the bible and the environment litter the novel. He knows the end is coming. He is trying to teach his fellow gardeners how to survive it.

I found the innocent but quickly learning voice of Ren very believable. Atwood writes he portion of the story in first person. She changes to third person for Toby's tired but stoic voice.

I was continually stopping to marvel at the insights to the world and people in the novel. How humanity has little hope of surviving because of the hoplessness that pervades us doing anything about the huge environmental and social problems that we face. We lack hope of changing so we do nothing to change.

I also found myself laughing a lot. Srcastic and ironic humour flows through the book.

Everyone should read this novel. It shows were our lack of hope could lead.

1 comment:

Anthony J Langford said...

I'll have to consider this one. Cheers. I have about 3 years of books lined up. Sigh.