BOOK REVIEW: Religion and Dystopia in Atwood’s THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD

The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam Trilogy, #2)The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sequel to Oryx and Crake (and the 2nd book in the newly-dubbed MaddAddam Trilogy), The Year of the Flood is a better book, in my opinion, than the series opener. The story is told through the eyes of two women, Ren and Toby, who are once and future members of an eco-cult called God’s Gardeners. Ren grows up in the cult after her mom leaves one of the gated pharmaceutical communities that control the world. Her narrative is first person and traces her life from an impressionable child to tough adulthood. Toby’s narrative is in third person, and she initially becomes a Gardener to escape a dire circumstance. Each of their contrasting sections is short and they end on a cliff hanger moments. Through these fragments, you get a different glimpse into the dystopian future Atwood’s created, with its Corporate structure and science gone amok. Interspersed are sermons and hymns from the cult. A warning: the book is very dark, even grim-dark. Atwood doesn’t shy from describing the horrors these two very different, and differently strong women face. A criticism: I found it hard to believe one major plot point which I won’t spoil. The Year of the Flood also reminded me of Octavia Butler’s Parable series, in the use of religion and dystopian themes.

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