I actually finished this book a few weeks ago, but life has been even more busy than normal lately.
I didn’t want to let too much time go past, however, without mentioning it. (Bookgroup members: we will read this when Courtney returns, fear not).
The Year of the Flood does what no previous Atwood book has done before–it returns to pick up on another story. Oryx and Crake is a brillant piece of speculative fiction in which society’s trends (economic, entertainment, scientific, etc) come to a logical and frightening head. I’ve taught Oryx and Crake before, and my students are always surprised by how relevant the text is–once they start researching, they realize that many of the horrors Atwood seems to have invented are not fictional inventions at all.
Oryx and Crake ends at a crossroads after a cataclysmic event.
The Year of the Flood tells much the same story, but from other points of view. This story intersects with the Oryx and Crake tale in myriad ways, but only ends a short while after Oryx and Crake does (I’m happy to report that my pessimism about the end of Oryx and Crake was totally right!).
While I really enjoyed The Year of the Flood, it didn’t add much to the actual original story for me, with one exception–Atwood allows the new work to explore religion, cults, and community. I’m interested in these, but the world of science and the rise of corporations over governments explored in the earlier book were more intriguing.
The protagonist of the earlier book and one of the protagonists of this book were born about the year 2000, according to an Atwood interview. When you look at the “years” in the story, keep that in mind. Atwood is a great predictor of human behavior and social trends, and, as I’ve already noted, many of the scientific inventions have already come to pass. Luckily for us, however, we seem to be keeping our humanity for a little longer, at least in the developed world that we see from our privileged positions. This cautionary tale reminds us how much we stand to lose if we’re not careful.
Don’t misunderstand–I loved this book–I just love Oryx and Crake a little bit more.