Book Review: The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Genres: Adult fiction, science fiction, dystopia, post-apocalyptic.

Synopsis:
The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thin as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners—a religion devoted to the melding of science and religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life—has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Read more…

Review:
Spoiler note: The review does not contain any major spoilers about The Year of the Flood or Oryx and Crake.
I had assumed that The Year of the Flood would continue directly after the events at the end of Oryx and Crake, even though I knew it was a companion novel and not a sequel as such, but the story is actually parallel to the events that took place in the previous book. I was ebullient at this realisation because I enjoyed reading about the futuristic society presented in Oryx and Crake. While the previous book focuses more on Jimmy, Oryx, and Crake as individuals, in this book, we find out even more about the wider society they were living in.

The story switches between two perspectives and survivors of the ‘Waterless Flood’: Ren, who is trapped inside a sex club and Toby, who is an (ex)member of God’s Gardeners. The story takes place before the flood, while it is occurring, and afterwards, so we get a well-rounded idea of what is going on in the world. I really enjoyed the dystopian aspects of the novel, reading about the corrupt CorpsSeCorps and corporations. Like Oryx and Crake, it’s a speculative novel about how far science, specifically biotechnology, can go. We see how it can be used for destructive means, such as the manipulation of DNA and gene splicing.

I read Oryx and Crake over 7 months before I picked up The Year of the Flood and I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had read it straight after (or if I had re-read Oryx and Crake beforehand!). I struggled to recall what I had previously learned about the Compounds. I also couldn’t remember which characters I had previously been introduced to, for example, I did not remember hearing about God’s Gardeners, Ren or Amanda. This probably wouldn’t have bothered me if I didn’t know about Oryx and Crake, but I constantly felt like I could be enjoying it more. However, my main issue was with the pacing. I thought the story could’ve moved a lot faster. I found certain parts of the book a little tedious and struggled to get through them.

Overall, while I thought the pacing of The Year of the Flood let it down, I enjoyed many aspects of the storyline. It’s not strictly necessary, but I’d personally suggest reading Oryx and Crake beforehand. It’s much more enjoyable and thrilling connecting them both. I will definitely be picking up both books again in the future and I’m sure I’ll enjoy The Year of the Flood more. While it did not have the same impact on me as the previous book, I would still recommend it to others purely for the interesting dystopian society and riveting scientific and technological implications.

My Rating: ★★★½
Read as part of Adult Fiction Month

2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

  1. I’m a quarter of the way through “Flood” and am glad I am reading it directly after finishing “Oryx and Crake”, as you mention. So far, I am really enjoying it; Atwood has an amazing imagination and way with words. I’m glad you have this listed under “adult fiction”; rather alarmingly, it is in the young adult section of the Mill Valley library.

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