The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
July 24, 2010 8 Comments
The Year of the Flood (2009) is not a sequel to Oryx and Crake, but the story takes place in the same period with some of the same people (who are minor characters in the other book). I loved Oryx and Crake, especially the setting, and looked forward to The Year of the Flood.
It didn’t disappoint, but I didn’t find it as good as Oryx and Crake (I think a direct comparison between the books is warranted). Oryx and Crake was the story of Jimmy, who is (maybe) the only survivor of a virus epidemic. In that book, there is a bit about Jimmy in the current time, but a lot of the story is about Jimmy growing up and meeting Crake and Oryx, and about the events leading up to the epidemic.
The Year of the Flood refers (biblically) to the epidemic, as it is seen as a waterless flood by God’s Gardeners, a religious sect that is opposing the environmentally destructive consumerism of their era. They grow vegetables in roof gardens and are against killing (and eating) animals.
I am not keen on reading about religious groups, although the main character, Toby, wasn’t really a believer. She joined the sect to be safe from her boss at SecretBurgers (that sells cheap burgers with secret (i.e., dodgy) ingredients).
The other main character was Ren (Brenda), whom we follow from being part of the sect, to living in a Corporation area. People who work for the Corporations (such as Ren’s father) get protection, housing and are considered rich.
The book alternates between Toby and Ren and I found that a bit confusing. Their characters weren’t different enough so I sometimes had to check whom I was reading about. Also, the time period in which a chapter took place confused me – for instance, originally I thought Ren and Toby were of similar age, but that wasn’t the case. I don’t know, I got confused.
In both stories we read about the current time, when the Flood has happened not so long ago, and go back in time to get a background on both women, and to find out how they ended up where they were when the Flood happened.
Towards the end of the book, things get more familiar, when characters from Oryx and Crake are mentioned, and the book ends just a little bit (a day or so) after the ending of Oryx and Crake, with some clarity about what was happening there in the end.
It was a good book, but sometimes confusing, and I wasn’t interested to read about the sect much (especially the preaches from Adam One and the songs they were singing). And a few too many of the characters we read (and care) about stay alive after the Flood whilst not many others do. A little too convenient. Rating: 4/5