The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy #2)

The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy #2)

by Margaret Atwood


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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Handmaid's Tale

Set in the visionary future of Atwood’s acclaimed Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood is at once a moving tale of lasting friendship and a landmark work of speculative fiction. In this second book of the MaddAddam trilogy, the long-feared waterless flood has occurred, altering Earth as we know it and obliterating most human life. Among the survivors are Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, who is barricaded inside a luxurious spa. Amid shadowy, corrupt ruling powers and new, gene-spliced life forms, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move, but they can't stay locked away.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307455475
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/27/2010
Series: MaddAddam Trilogy Series , #2
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 55,577
Product dimensions: 8.26(w) x 11.08(h) x 0.98(d)

About the Author

Margaret Atwood, whose work has been published in over thirty-five countries, is the author of more than forty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. In addition to The Handmaid’s Tale, her novels include Cat’s Eye, shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Alias Grace, which won the Giller Prize in Canada and the Premio Mondello in Italy; The Blind Assassin, winner of the 2000 Booker Prize; and her most recent, Oryx and Crake, shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize. She lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.


Toronto, Ontario

Date of Birth:

November 18, 1939

Place of Birth:

Ottawa, Ontario


B.A., University of Toronto, 1961; M.A. Radcliffe, 1962; Ph.D., Harvard University, 1967

Read an Excerpt

1Toby. Year Twenty-five,  the Year of the Flood.

In the early morning Toby climbs up to the rooftop to watch the sunrise. She uses a mop handle for balance: the elevator stopped working some time ago and the back stairs are slick with damp, so if she slips and topples there won't be anyone to pick her up. As the first heat hits, mist rises from among the swathe of trees between her and the derelict city. The air smells faintly of burning, a smell of caramel and tar and rancid barbecues, and the ashy but greasy smell of a garbage-dump fire after it's been raining. The abandoned towers in the distance are like the coral of an ancient reef—bleached and colourless, devoid of life. There still is life, however. Birds chirp; sparrows, they must be. Their small voices are clear and sharp, nails on glass: there's no longer any sound of traffic to drown them out. Do they notice that quietness, the absence of motors? If so, are they happier? Toby has no idea. Unlike some of the other Gardeners—the more wild-eyed or possibly overdosed ones—she has never been under the illusion that she can converse with birds. The sun brightens in the east, reddening the blue-grey haze that marks the distant ocean. The vultures roosting on hydro poles fan out their wings to dry them, opening themselves like black umbrellas. One and then another lifts off on the thermals and spirals upwards. If they plummet suddenly, it means they've spotted carrion. Vultures are our friends, the Gardeners used to teach. They purify the earth. They are God's necessary dark Angels of bodily dissolution. Imagine how terrible it would be if there were no death!Do I still believe this? Toby wonders. Everything is different up close.

The rooftop has some planters, their ornamental running wild; it has a few fake-wood benches. It used to have a sun canopy for cocktail hour, but that's been blown away. Toby sits on one of the benches to survey the grounds. She lifts her binoculars, scanning from left to right. The driveway, with its lumirose borders, untidy now as as frayed hairbrushes, their purple glow fading in the strengthening light. The western entrance, done in pink adobe-style solarskin, the snarl of tangled cars outside the gate. The flowerbeds, choked with sow thistle and burdock, enormous aqua kudzu moths fluttering above them. The fountains, their scallop-shell basins filled with stagnant rainwater. The parking lot with a pink golf cart and two pink AnooYoo minibuses, each with its winking-eye logo. There's a fourth minibus further along the drive, crashed into a tree: there used to be an arm hanging out of the window, but it's gone now.The wide lawns have grown up, tall weeds. There are low irregular mounds beneath the milkweed and fleabane and sorrel, with here and there a swatch of fabric, a glint of bone. That's where the people fell, the ones who'd been running or staggering across the lawn. Toby had watched from the roof, crouched behind one of the planters, but she hadn't watched for long. Some of those people had called for help, as if they'd known she was there. But how could she have helped? The swimming pool has a mottled blanket of algae. Already there are frogs. The herons and the egrets and the peagrets hunt them, at the shallow end. For a while Toby tried to scoop out the small animals that had blundered in and drowned. The luminous green rabbits, the rats, the rakunks, with their striped tails and racoon bandit masks. But now she leaves them alone. Maybe they'll attract fish, somehow.Is she thinking of eating these future fish? Surely not. Surely not yet.She turns to the dark encircling wall of trees and vines and fronds and shrubby undergrowth, probing it with her binoculars. It's surely from there that any danger might come. But what kind of danger? She can't imagine.

In the night there are the usual noises: the faraway barking of dogs, the tittering of mice, the water-pipe notes of the crickets, the occasional grumph of a frog. The blood rushing in her ears: katoush, katoush, katoush. A heavy broom sweeping dry leaves. "Go to sleep," she says out loud. But she never sleeps well, not since she's been alone in this building. Sometimes she hears voices—human voices, calling to her in pain. Or the voices of women, the women who used to work here, the anxious women who used to come, for rest and rejuvenation. Splashing in the pool, strolling on the lawns. All the pink voices, soothed and soothing. Or the voices of the Gardeners, murmuring or singing; or the children laughing together, up on the Edencliff Garden. Adam One, and Nuala, and Burt. Old Pilar, surrounded by her bees. And Zeb. If any one of them is still alive, it must be Zeb. Surely is he on his way, any day now he'll come walking along the roadway or appear from among the trees. But he must be dead by now. It's better to think so. Not to waste hope.There must be someone else left, though; she can't be the only one on the planet. There must be others. But friends or foes? If she sees one, how to tell? She's prepared. The doors are locked, the windows barred. But even such barriers are no guarantee: every hollow space invites invasion. Even when she sleeps, she's listening, as animals do—for a break in the pattern, for an unknown sound, for a silence opening like a crack in rock. When the small creatures hush their singing, said Adam One, it's because they're afraid. You must listen for the sound of their fear.

2Ren. Year Twenty-five, the year of the Flood.

Beware of words. Be careful what you write. Leave no trails.This is what the Gardeners taught us, when I was a child among them. They taught us to depend on memory, because nothing written down could be relied on. The Spirit travels from mouth to mouth, not from thing to thing: books could be burnt, paper crumble away, computers could be destroyed. Only the Spirit lives forever, and the Spirit isn't a thing. As for writing, it was dangerous, said the Adams and the Eves, because your enemies could trace you through it, and hunt you down, and use your words to condemn you.But now that the Waterless Flood has swept over us, any writing I might do is safe enough, because those who might have used it against me are surely dead. So I can write down anything I want. What I write is my name, Ren, with an eyebrow pencil, on the wall beside the mirror. I've written it a lot of times. Renrenren, like a song. You can forget who you are if you're alone too much. Amanda told me that. I can't see out the window, it's glass brick. I can't get out the door, it's locked on the outside. I still have air though, and water, as long as the solar doesn't quit. I still have food. I'm lucky. I'm really very lucky. Count your luck, Amanda used to say. So I do. First, I was lucky to be working here at Scales when the Flood hit. Second, it was even luckier that I was shut up this way in the Sticky Zone, because it kept me safe. I got a rip in my Biofilm Bodyglove—a client got carried away and bit me, right through the green sequins and I was waiting for my test results. It wasn't a wet rip with secretions and membranes involved, it was a dry rip near the elbow, so I wasn't that worried. Still, they checked everything, here at Scales. They had a reputation to keep up: we were known as the cleanest dirty girls in town. Scales took care of you, they really did. If you were talent, that is. Good food, a doctor if you needed one, and the tips were great, because the men from the top Corps came here. It was well run, though it was in a seedy area—all the clubs were. That was a matter of image, Mordis would say: seedy was good for business, because unless there's an edge—something lurid or tawdry, a whiff of sleaze—what separated our brand from the run-of-the-mill product the guy could get at home, with the face cream and the white cotton panties? Mordis believed in plain speaking. He'd been in the business ever since he was a kid, and when they outlawed the pimps and the street trade—for public health and the safety of women, they said—and rolled everything into SeksMart under CorpSeCorps control, Mordis made the jump, because of his experience. "It's who you know," he used to say. "And what you know about them." Then he'd grin, and pat you on the bum—just a friendly pat though, he never took freebies from us. He had ethics.He was a wiry guy with a shaved head and black, shiny, alert eyes like the heads of ants, and he was easy as long as everything was cool. But he'd stand up for us if the clients got violent. "Nobody hurts my best girls," he'd say. It was a point of honour with him. Also he didn't like waste: we were a valuable asset, he'd say. The cream of the crop. After the SeksMart roll-in, anyone left outside the system was not only illegal but pathetic. A few wrecked, diseased old women wandering the alleyways, practically begging. No man with even a fraction of his brain left would go anywhere near them. "Hazardous waste," we Scales girls used to call them. We shouldn't have been so scornful; we should have had compassion. But compassion takes work, and we were young.

That night when the Waterless Flood began, I was waiting for my test results: they kept you locked in the Sticky Zone for weeks, in case you had something contagious. The food came in through the safety-sealed hatchway, plus there was the mini-fridge with snacks, and the water was filtered, coming in and out both. You had everything you needed, but it got boring in there. You could exercise on the machines, and I did a lot of that, because a trapeze dancer needs to keep in practice. You could watch TV or old movies, play your music, talk on the phone. Or you could visit the other rooms in Scales on the intercom video. Sometimes when we doing plank work we'd wink at the cameras in mid-moan for the benefit of whoever was stuck in the Sticky Zone. We knew where the cameras were hidden, in the snakeskin or featherwork on the ceilings. It was one big family, at Scales, so even when you were in the Sticky Zone, Mordis liked you to feel you were still participating.Mordis made me feel so secure. I knew if I was in big trouble I could go to him. There were only a few people in my life like that. Amanda, most of the time. Zeb, sometimes. And Toby. You wouldn't think it would be Toby—she was so tough and hard—but if you're drowning, a soft squashy thing is no good to hold onto. You need something more solid.


Year Five.

Of the Creation, and of the Naming of the Animals.Spoken by Adam One.

Dear Friends, dear fellow Creatures, dear fellow Mammals: On Creation Day five years ago, this Edencliff Rooftop Garden of ours was a sizzling wasteland, hemmed in by festering city slums and dens of wickedness; but now it has blossomed as the rose. By covering such barren rooftops with greenery we are doing our small part in the redemption of God's Creation from the decay and sterility that lies all around us, and feeding ourselves with unpolluted food into the bargain. Some would term our efforts futile, but if all were to follow our example, what a change would be wrought on our beloved Planet! Much hard work still lies before us, but fear not, my Friends; for we shall move forward undaunted.I am glad we have all remembered our sunhats.

Now let us turn our minds to our annual Creation Day Devotion. The Human Words of God speak of the Creation in terms that could be understood by the men of old. There is no talk of galaxies or genes, for such terms would have confused them greatly! But must we therefore take as scientific fact the story that the world was created in six days, thus making a nonsense of observable data? God cannot be held to the narrowness of literal and materialistic interpretations, nor measured by Human measurements, for His days are eons, and a thousand ages of our time are like an evening to Him. Unlike some other religions, we have never felt it served a higher purpose to lie to children about geology.Remember the first sentences of those Human Words of God: the Earth is without form, and void, and then God speaks Light into being. This is the moment that Science terms "The Big Bang," as if it were a sex orgy. Yet both accounts concur in their essence: Darkness; then, in an instant, Light. But surely the Creation is ongoing, for are not new stars being formed at every moment? God's Days are not consecutive, my Friends; they run concurrently, the first with the third, the fourth with the sixth. As we are told, "Thou sendeth forth thy Spirit, they are created; and Thou renewest the face of the Earth." We are told that, on the fifth day of God's Creating activities, the waters brought forth Creatures, and on the sixth day the dry land was populated with Animals, and with plants and Trees; and all were blessed, and told to multiply; and finally Adam—that is to say, Mankind—was created. According to Science, this is the same order in which the species did in fact appear on the planet, Man last of all. Or more or less the same order. Or close enough.What happens next? God brings the Animals before Man, "to see what he would call them." But why didn't God already know what names Adam would choose? The answer can only be that God has given Adam free will, and therefore Adam may do things that God Himself cannot anticipate in advance. Think of that the next time you are tempted by meat-eating or material wealth! Even God may not always know what you are going to do next!God must have caused the Animals to assemble by speaking to them directly, but what language did He use? It was not Hebrew, my Friends. It was not Latin or Greek, or English, or French, or Spanish, or Arabic, or Chinese. No: He called the Animals in their own languages. To the Reindeer He spoke Reindeer, to the Spider, Spider; to the Elephant He spoke Elephant, to the Flea He spoke Flea, to the Centipede He spoke Centipede, and to the Ant, Ant. So must it have been.And for Adam himself, the Names of the Animals were the first words he spoke—the first moment of Human language. In this cosmic instant, Adam claims his Human soul. To Name is—we hope—to greet; to draw another towards one's self. Let us imagine Adam calling out the Names of the Animals in fondness and joy, as if to say—There you are, my dearest! Welcome! Adam's first act towards the Animals was thus one of loving-kindness and kinship, for Man in his unfallen state was not yet a carnivore. The Animals knew this, and did not run away. So it must have been on that unrepeatable Day—a peaceful gathering at which every living entity on the Earth was embraced by Man. How much have we lost, dear fellow Mammals and fellow Mortals! How much have we wilfully destroyed! How much do we need to restore, within ourselves! The time of the Naming is not over, my Friends. In His sight, we may still be living in the sixth day. As your Meditation, imagine yourself rocked in that sheltering moment. Stretch out your hand towards those gentle eyes that regard you with such trust—a trust that has not yet been violated by bloodshed and gluttony and pride and disdain. Say their Names. Let us sing.

Reading Group Guide

“Futuristic, chilling and wonderfully original….A strange and beautiful work, this masterful narrative proves that Atwood can do anything as a novelist.” –Bookpage, Top Pick for Book Clubs
In this long-awaited new novel, Margaret Atwood brilliantly envisions what could happen if we continue on the dangerous path of disrespect for the environment-and for one another. The questions and topics that follow are designed to enhance your reading experience and to generate lively discussion.

1. How does the friendship between Amanda and Ren grow, despite their differences and the restrictions they face? They meet as children. Who was your greatest ally when you were that age? What do you think of Ren's treatment of Bernice?

2. What survival skills do the novel's female characters possess? Do they find security or vulnerability at Scales and Tales, the AnooYoo Spa, and within the community of Gardeners? What strength does Pilar find in nature, while Lucerne is drawn to artificial beauty?

3. How do Adam One's motivations compare to Zeb's? In their world, what advantages do men have? Are they really “advantages”?

4. Discuss Toby's parents and their fate. What does their story illustrate about the dangers of an unregulated and corrupt drug industry? What motivates Toby to become a healer?

5. How does Adam One's explanation of creation and the fall of humanity compare to more standard Judeo-Christian ideas? What does he offer his followers, beyond an understanding of the planet and the creatures that inhabit it?

6. Discuss the father figures in Ren's life: her stepfather, Zeb; her biological father, Frank; and eventually Mordis. What did they teach her about being a woman? How did they shape her expectations of Jimmy?

7. As a refugee from Texas, Amanda is an outsider, facing constant risk. Would you have harbored her? Why is Ren so impressed by her?

8. What is the result of a penal system like Painball? How does it influence the citizens' attitude toward crime?

9. Should Toby have honored Pilar's deathbed wish that she become an Eve? How did the lessons in beekeeping serve Toby in other ways as well?

10. Crake's BlyssPlus pill offers many false promises. What are they, and what was Crake really striving for (chapter 73)? If human beings are the greatest problem for the natural world, could they also provide solutions less drastic than Crake's? How?

11. In what ways do the novel's three voices—Toby's, Ren's, and Adam One's—complement one another? What unique perspective is offered in each narration?

12. Explore the lyrics from The God's Gardeners Oral Hymnbook. What do they say about the Gardener theology and the nature of their faith? Adam One does not always tell the truth to his congregation. Is well-meant lying ever acceptable?

13. Margaret Atwood's fiction often displays “gallows humor.” Can a thing be dire and funny at the same time? Must we laugh or die?

14. The Year of the Flood covers the same time period as Oryx and Crake, and contains a number of the same characters — (“Snowman,” a student at the Martha Graham Academy and “the last man on earth”) and Glenn (“Crake,” who studied at the Watson-Crick Institute), as well as Bernice, Jimmy's hostile college room-mate, Amanda, a live-in artist girlfriend, Ren (“Brenda,”) whom he remembers briefly in Oryx and Crake as a high-school fling, Jimmy's mother, who runs away to become an activist, and the God's Gardeners, whom he mentions as a fringe green cult. Re-read the final pages of both books. What do you predict for the remaining characters? Should the Gardeners execute the Painballers? Why? Why not? Would you?

15. What parallels did you see between The Year of the Flood and current headlines?

(For a complete list of available reading group guides, and to sign up for the Reading Group Center enewsletter, visit

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The Year of the Flood 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 333 reviews.
kren250 More than 1 year ago
Margaret Atwood's latest book The Year of the Flood is another of her dystopian offerings. It's many years in the future (Atwood never gives an exact date), and humans have finally managed to destroy much in the natural world. Many animal species are extinct, pollution is rampant, weather is out of control, and society is buckling down to live out the days the best they can. Into all this comes the "waterless flood", a disaster that has wiped out nearly all the humans in the world. At least two have survived: Toby, the manager of a high-end spa who has barricaded herself inside; and Ren, a dancer/prostitute who was in the "sticky zone" (a type of sick bay) when the disaster hit. Now, separately, the two have to try to survive in this strange new unpeopled world. Will they ever find each other? And, the bigger question: did anyone else survive? I really liked this book; it's not only a great read but very thought-provoking as well. The story is told with flashbacks to Ren and Toby's former lives, which added a lot to the book; it made an interesting contrast to see what things were like before the waterless flood. Toby is tough, smart, and resourceful; and it's always wonderful to see a strong female protaganist (one reason I love Atwood's books). I also thought Atwood did an excellent job of showing how bad things could possibly get on earth in the years to come, without being preachy about it. I did have two minor quibbles about the book, which is why I gave it four stars instead of five. The first was the annoyingly cute futuristic names many of the things are given: "Anooyoo", "violet biolet", "SekSmart", "Mo'hairs", "Sea/H/Ear candy", "liobams" (if names will really be this cheesy in the future than the world is indeed in trouble;-)!. Yes, it's a very minor thing, but for some reason it grated on my nerves a bit. The other quibble I can't say without giving away spoilers, but it has to do with some coincidences that happen towards the end of the book. I didn't find these coincidences to be very plausible. Minor quibbles non-withstanding, I could barely tear myself away from the pages of this book. I highly recommend it, especially if you like your sci-fi with a mix of great literature.
book-a-holick More than 1 year ago
I read Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood back to back. I had really enjoyed Oryx and Crake, and expected Year of the Flood to be a smooth continuation of the first book, but it is not. I was about a fourth of the way through the second book before I realized and accepted, yea, embraced, the fact that Year of the Flood has a style and focus and engaging characters all its own. The two books should be read in order, but the reader must be open-minded when starting the second book, as it approaches the causes and aftermath of the pandemic (waterless flood) in a totally different but equally entertaining way. P.S. About half way through, I was thrilled to see a few of our 'friends' from Oryx and Crake cropping up!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An apocalyptic tale drawing from current events--disease, food production, environmental degradation, socioeconomic segregation, corporate controls, religious fanaticism, etc., etc. Thought-provoking. Fast-paced. Hard to put down.
The-Good-Peasant More than 1 year ago
This is the tale of a future where science and technology have run amuck. (Ironically, it's also the first book I've read on my Nook.) Atwood creates a world that has lost its way and most of its humanity while giving us strong and undaunted characters to root for along the way. Great extrapolation of current issues in ecology, genetics, medicine and more - a story with a message, humor, and even a little hope.
copysquirl More than 1 year ago
I've got to say first, I'm a fan. A huge one. And Oryx and Crake was just awesome... but this, well, it just didn't cut it for me. Maybe it's me. Maybe it's timing. But it felt like a meander down another author's attempt at her writing. It just didn't hold together or share the sense of solid storytelling I've come to expect from this author. Skip it. Get all the others instead. Buy them twice, they are worth it. Not a loser in the bunch. She's allowed this one I guess.
Supereen More than 1 year ago
I can't believe it only has 3 stars! It's been a while since I read Oryx and Crake and I found that was ok because even thought the two books are interwound, you didn't need to remember details from O&C to understand this book. I loved the 2 characters, though Ren at the end coming apart didn't seem true to the character she had been throughout the book. I read this book in 3 days, and enjoyed it. I hope Margaret Atwood comes out with a 3rd installment to this series.
Drewano More than 1 year ago
Book 2 of the MaddAddam trilogy follows a familiar pattern as the first without becoming repetitive. The year of the Flood takes parallel look at the time up until the pandemic which kills nearly everyone on the planet, but the stories cross paths with those from Oryx and Crake on a couple of occasions allowing you to see familiar tales from a new angle. This book has a bit more suspense than book one and offers a harder look at the stark realities of this cruel world, setting up the story for a great end with book 3.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
IT starts off slow but dont give up on it. It picks up and gets more intriguing in the second half. And it finishes where Oryx leave off. If youre afan of dystopia you will like this.
wookietim More than 1 year ago
But not as good as Atwoods other works. Universe building is hard. It's harder in writing than even in TV or movies - TV and movies have an extra sense available to them (sight) that books don't have. But Atwood is great at using certain details to create worlds in her novels. In "Oryx and Crake" Atwood created a world that was well thought out and lyrical in it's intensity. In "the year of the flood" she doesn't add much to it... But she does flesh it out further. And that's good. But still... But still it lacks the depth of character so many of her novels have had. I came to the end fascinated but still not really caring about the characters. I also have to add that the concerns in the novel have already been well picked over in Atwoods earlier novels, so there just isn't much new stuff here. All of that said, I highly recommend it - especially for the readers of the earlier "Oryx and Crake" but also for the more general audience (The novel can stand on it's own too - don't worry about the idea of this being a sequel - it's more of a parallel story).
fancycow More than 1 year ago
While I thoroughly enjoyed the book, I believe that I had higher expectations for the novel that were just not reached. As a big Margaret Atwood fan, I was looking for something more in-depth, something more complex and complicated, something greater than it turned out to be. After just recently finishing Oryx and Crake, I was so looking forward to the conclusion of that book, yet this only gave me a small glimpse into the connection of these two novels, and not really until the very end of the book. Oryx and Crake left so many questions, and this book did not allow itself to develop into answers. The ending felt so rushed, something that I don't feel many of Atwood's books do.
splatfrog More than 1 year ago
I literally read this and felt nothing. The characters are flat, the setting pretentious and cliche, and the plot(?) completely uninteresting. I've liked her books in the past, but this one's a dud.
Anonymous 29 days ago
Great read even though it was a longer book. Love the characters! Looking forward to the last book in the trilogy now, MaddAddam!
Anonymous 3 months ago
bhowell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am not a big fan of sci fi or dystopian novels but I thoroughly enjoyed Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood. The novels take place in the same world but in Flood the characters are outside the protected corporate city struggling to survive in the chaos of environmental disaster. I can recommend a similar book called The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall, published by Faber UK in 2007.
StephenBarkley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Oryx and Crake, Atwood painted a future where advances in genetic engineering created a plague that eradicated most of humanity. I loved the novel for its realism¿many of the engineered creatures Atwood envisioned had already been created. It was a great work of dystopian fiction.The Year of the Flood brings us right back to that world from the perspective of a religious cult that prophesied the plague¿the waterless flood¿that eventually took place. We were introduced to the world in the first book¿we experienced it in the second.Atwood was brilliant in her creation of the "God's Gardeners" cult that this book focuses on. Her description of theological hair-splitting and mixed motivations among the group faithfully echo the religious world of today. I've grown up in the church and pastored for the past 12 years: her understanding of religion is unnerving.This story is a brilliant mix of popular fiction and literature. The story's compelling, but there's much more than mere plot. We can only hope this turns into a trilogy.
GrazianoRonca on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Year of the Floodby Margaret Atwood (2009)McClelland & Stewart, OntarioA natural disaster alters Earth obliterating most human life. Within the survivors: Ren, a trapeze dancer and Toby, a God¿s Gardener (a religious/vegan group). Others survivors: Adam One, leader of the God¿s Gardener; Amanda, Ren¿s friend; Zeb, eco-fighter and Ren¿s stepfather; CorpSeCorps, the policing force in this new world. Another `character¿: ¿the asphalt-eating microbe¿ (they were melting highways).In this post-apocalyptic future they search the perfect human being and the immortality, somebody with human clonation and others following the command of the natural world (after God Is Dead, Atwood says ¿God Is Green¿).Atwood is spying through an ajar door leading to the future. Usually the science fiction describes a very far future: Orwell with 1984 (wrote in 1949), Kubrick with 2001: A Space Odyssey (shot in 1968), but in this book we read the future of the next door.I read and ate The Year of the Flood as a dressed salad: the lettuce as the God's Gardeners, the oil as Toby and Ren, the salt as the CorpeSeCorps, and the bread crisps as the Oral Hymns. Eat the salad on a rooftop, please. A question: Why Blanco doesn't think Toby¿s poisoning him? Some quotes: "Glenn used to say the reason you can't really imagine yourself being dead was that as soon as you say, "I'll be dead," you've said the word I, and so you're still alive inside the sentence. And that's how people got the idea of the immortality of the soul - it was a consequence of grammar." p. 316"Why so soon? It's the cry of a child being called home at dusk, it's the universal protest against time." p. 326"What is our Cosmos but a snowflake?" p. 424
PghDragonMan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Year of the Flood starts as a parallel story to Margret Atwood¿s Oryx and Crake, becomes a prequel to Oryx and Crake (hereafter called O&C for brevity) and ends as a sequel to the same story. The Year of the Flood (YotF) concentrates on some members of God¿s Gardeners, a religious vegetarian sect introduced in O&C and fills in more of the back story to that novel. While not essential to understanding YotF, having read O&C will add to your understanding the relationships between the characters.It starts as a parallel story because the opening time frame of this book is before the main action of O&C and the connection to the other story is not immediately apparent. The connection is revealed through members of God¿s Gardeners. They were an integral part of O&C, but they did not really take center stage for the plot. Here, we learn more of the politics of the Gardeners and how some members were working behind the scenes to bring about the biological disaster that befalls mankind in Atwood¿s vision of the world.There is no doubt Margret Atwood translate her mental images of the possible state of the world into words very vividly. I was a little disappointed that some of the imagery from Handmaid¿s Tale found its way into this alternate world without being really connected to the original story. Ren, one of the main characters of YotF worked in a sex club and was in a costume when she performed. I don¿t remember the character¿s name from Handmaid¿s Tale, but there was a female character who worked in a sex club in a Playboy Bunny costume. This little bit of parallel styling did not detract from my enjoyment, but a little more creativity would have been appreciated.I have trouble deciding if Atwood is being extremely sarcastic of religion or really is pushing a vegan lifestyle with her depiction of the Gardeners. Since the characters revert to carnivorous ways in an effort to survive, I¿ll go with heavy sarcasm. The included hymns also learn in that direction. If your personal beliefs are easily offended, stay away from this work!YotF does not seem to reach a definitive conclusion. Not quite the classic Lady and the Tiger ending of O&C, there are just enough loose threads left at the end of YotF that I can¿t help but wonder if there¿s going to be a third installment. For me, this unfinished business is enough for me to pull the story back from a five star read. I¿m going with four and a half stars for Year of the Flood.If you were a fan of Oryx and Crake, dive into this Flood, you¿ll enjoy it. If religious beliefs contrary to your own bother you, or if works that take a shot at organized religion bothers you, avoid Year of the Flood. If you are into dark dystopia without vampires or other supernatural creatures, you¿ll feel right at home.
DCBlack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Cutting between dual narrators to relate interweaving story-threads in flashback, this slow-developing novel requires much patience from the reader. Despite the inventiveness of the world-building, the novel ultimately required more patience than I possessed. I may return at some point to try to finish the last hundred pages, perhaps after going back to read 'Oryx and Crake' since that novel seems to be better regarded.
jlawshe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Didn't enjoy Year of the Flood as much as Oryx and Crake: the persistent Christian mythology -- sometimes ironic, sometimes sincere? -- very shortly wore thin. A good set up for the final book in the trilogy, however... looking forward to the final volume.
chrystal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't like this at all. I could never quite identify with the characters. Unoriginal settings. I kept thinking it would get better ...
kaelirenee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In her novel Oryx and Crake, Atwood presents a horrific dystopia in which consumerism has taken over the world and science attempts to cure it. This, of course, only succeeds in killing off most of humanity. It is a dystopia after all. Year of the Flood takes her readers on a parallel trip through the events that Jimmy (Snowman) recounts in his narrative. She focuses on the groups, God¿s Gardeners, and their resistance to this buy/destroy/engineer life cycle by telling the stories of two of its female members, Toby and Ren.Atwood succeeds at fleshing out this religion of the God¿s Gardeners, giving them a host of saints, religious dogma, hymns, sermons, and a hierarchy. She has clearly examined the preparedness folks out there now, those that do prepare for something bad to happen, those that try to simplify their own lives, and those who try to be self-sufficient. Their communal lives are presented in an unflinching manner. There are squabbles, failures, in-fights, betrayals, true believers, people who join for the wrong reasons, and anything else you would realistically find in a commune. But overall, they are a group of pacifists and vegetarians. You can see the fracturing of this group through the narratives of Ren, who is the step-daughter of MaddAddam (who appears in Oryx and Crake) and Toby, a woman who is rescued from a mad man rapist and decides to stay with the group as a way to remain safe. I¿m very glad for the two views¿Ren was raised in the Gardeners group, so it¿s the life she knows and expects, whereas Toby was paying lip service to the group so she could stay safe from the outside world. But, I suppose, that¿s what all the Gardeners were doing.Cameos from Oryx and Crake run rampant through this novel, though it should still be possible for those who haven¿t read it to appreciate this novel on its own. However, there were too many times that her story felt forcibly contrived so it could parallel O&C, particularly the parts with Amanda and the last couple of chapters.Fans of Atwood¿s other speculative fictions and fans of the genre will appreciate this latest novel. She includes themes of the objectification of women and nature, rampant consumerism, corporate and governmental corruption, and the successes and failures of pacifism and protesting.
bookfest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In The Year of the Flood, Atwood reveals the world's impending disaster through the eyes of two women, Ren and Toby. They have both become part of a cult-like group called the Gardeners, which attempts to combine survival skills and respect for the Earth with ideas from both the Bible and science. The book is framed by the sermons of their leader, Adam One. What makes Margaret Atwood's science fiction books so fascinating is her ability to portray where our current events will lead us if we continue on the same path. In flashbacks, we learn how Toby's family was destroyed because her father would not sell his land to developers. In my community, a woman who refused to sell her land is having her home shattered by the blasting of the consturction company. Toby's mother becomes ill and the insurance company refuses to cover her care, just as we read headlines about people dying because insurance companies refuse coverage. We later learn that the vitamins Toby's mother took were the very cause of her demise and I listen to broadcasts explaining how pharmaceutical companies create artificial demand for their products. Atwood portrays the breakdown of nature and society. The greed of corporations and their dangerous experiments with genetic engineering is a theme threaded throughout the book, although more directly addressed in [Oryx and Crake]. The privatization of the police force echoes the privatization of our military services and warns of abuse of such power. The world becomes lawless, with women used and abused, people murdered for their organs, and criminals hardened into violent brutes by the bizarre penal system.The Year of the Flood is fascinating and wise, yet it is not as engrossing as [Oryx and Crake], which crosses paths with this novel. The characters are not as engaging and the plot is less powerful, perhaps because of the technique of framing the story with Adam One's sermons and the extensive use of flashbacks.
writestuff on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The year is far in the future, a time when animals are becoming extinct at a rate faster than people can document, and the level of pollution requires individuals to don nose cones in order to go outside. The government is horribly corrupt ¿ creating weird animals like liobams (part lamb, part lion) and embedding diseases into vitamin supplements. Criminalsare either executed or sent to serve months ¿playing¿ Painball, a deadly form of today¿s paintball.Welcome to Margaret Atwood¿s latest dystopian novel which serves as a prequel to her previous work Oryx and Crake. The Year of the Flood takes place roughly during the same time period as Oryx and Crake, but jumps back and forth from the post-pandemic months and the years leading up to the disaster. Jimmy (Snowman) makes a reappearance in The Year of the Flood, but the main characters are two women ¿ Toby and Ren. The novel is narrated first in Toby¿s voice then in Ren¿s, alternating chapters to provide significant background on not only the state of the world, but each woman¿s personal story as well.The heroes of the novel are members of a (mostly) pacifist, eco-friendly group called the Gardeners. Headed up by a Christ-like man called Adam One, the Gardeners rescue people off the streets (and from morally reprehensible lives), prohibit meat eating of any kind, document the animals being lost to extinction, and work underground to gain information about the various corrupt practices of the government. Both Toby and Ren become members of the Gardeners ¿ Toby as a healer and eventually one of the Eves (female members who take on a leadership role in the group), and Ren who joins the group as a child.Nobody does dystopian literature better than Atwood ¿ and in The Year of the Flood she provides complex female characters who are faced with futuristic horrors which involve women as sexual tools for men, plenty of violence, and lots of cynicism. There is also Atwood¿s signature sense of humor embedded in the story which is often graphic while exploring serious subjects such as pandemics, government corruption, and loss of our natural resources.I love Margaret Atwood¿s writing. I am always astonished by the brilliance of her prose and her ability to tell an engrossing story. But The Year of the Flood is not without its faults. I could have lived without the insertion of Adam One¿s sermons and song lyrics from the Gardener¿s ¿hymn¿ book. I also felt the ending was rather abrupt and left the reader wondering what the future held for the characters (in this way, it was a lot like Oryx and Crake).In some ways, I felt Atwood wrote the ending to connect the novel to Oryx and Crake ¿ it felt a bit contrived.Despite its faults, The Year of the Flood will appeal to readers who enjoy an engaging dystopian tale and who have read and liked Atwood¿s previous work. I would be interested to see if Atwood is planning a third book in the series¿and if so, where she might take her characters next.
TooBusyReading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although I have read only two or three of Margaret Atwood's earlier novels, I remember loving The Handmaid's Tale when I read it several years ago. Perhaps my tastes have changed or I was just not in the right mood for this book, but I just didn't connect with The Year of the Flood. It's another dystopian tale, this one involving God's Gardeners, an ultra-green religious organization that practices rooftop gardening along with recycling and gleaning while waiting for The Waterless Flood, another end of the world. The big, bad corporations are running rampant, and gene splicing is used to create all sort of amazing animals such as the liobam, a cross between a lion and a lamb so that the two species can lay down together, a step toward the Peaceable Kingdom. There are lots of silly names for new creatures and foods, mostly just annoying although I did think that canned soydines were funny the first time I heard of them. There are lots of pretty bad hymns that the Gardeners sing, whether or not they were fashioned after Blake, et al. The plot was not interesting to me, a bit predictable, and while this was a pretty good read for those interested in this type of fiction, it was just not my cup of tea.
ElizaJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reason for Reading: Atwood's new book. 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".