I am so glad I went back and reread Oryx & Crake and The Year of the Flood before I sunk my teeth into MaddAddam. I think each of them can be enjoyed on their own, but I got so much out of reading all three of these novels back-to-back. It was wonderful to go back and re-experience the first two. I loved them both the first time, but I got so much more out of them the second time around. Being able to finish one and pick up the next immediately was the best kind of binge reading.
For those of you who think you wouldn't like this kind of speculative, dystopian future, you need to summon all of your will and give them a try. Atwood is such a gifted writer that you soon forget about the novelty of the situation, the characters, and the animals (sheep that grow human hair for one) and just get swept up in the story.
I am not going to try and give a synopsis. Not only am I never very good at that, but in this case I know it would be next to impossible. Atwood provides the right amount of character development and description to make her world feel three dimensional, but she also keeps the plot chugging along in a way that makes it hard to put down at night. Indeed I read all three of the books over the course of five days. MaddAddam doesn't necessarily tie everything up with a bow, but it does resolve enough to make it seem like a good place to stop.
I also won't try and describe the world Atwood creates in these three books, but a few things in MaddAddam I found particularly interesting. For instance I love the idea of a creature that "purrs" over people when they are ill. It sounds so comforting--and unlike, hmm religious purring--so non-judgmental. I also got a chuckle out of Toby's (and eventually Blackbeard's) requests to the Crakers to stop singing. But more than anything I really loved the Pigoons in this book. I wish I could say more about the Pigoons--just think really smart pigs--but I don't want to give anything away.
It has been about four days since I left the post-plague, climate changed, deserted planet Earth of MaddAddam but I find myself thinking about it a lot. Not the connection between current human activity and the possibility of Atwood's dystopia coming true, but rather the characters, human and non-human. I really kind of enjoyed hanging out with them.
|Photo credit: Canadian Press / Rex Features|
Quibbles. Only quibbles. Go read these books. (And I would say read them in order. Go back and start with Oryx & Crake. In many ways I think it is the best of these three brilliant books.)
Here is what I thought of The Year of the Flood when I first read it back in 2009. In skimming it myself, I notice I made a similar comment about gender roles back then.
As for Oryx & Crake, I wasn't book blogging when I finished reading it, so I have no review to link to.