Review: The Year of the Flood

The Year of the Flood relates events in Oryx and Crake from a different perspective. This is a tricky bit of business.  Both books are near-future works of science fiction relating a societal collapse, so being able to get two books out of the same sequence requires the world to be sufficiently rich that there are two compelling viewpoints from which to view the events.  Even when that’s the case, the writer is still presented with the problem of creating two sets of interesting characters.  Fortunately, the writer in question is Margaret Atwood, so this all goes pretty well.

Atwood’s strengths and weaknesses are all on display here.  The world is extrapolated from today’s world in ways that expose the underlying ideals, ideas, and ideologies that shape it.  Characters are iconic, but with enough life in them that they aren’t just tokens to be moved through some intellectual bingo game.  On the down side, the iconography and some Dickensean coincidences make the world seem small.  The ideas are all big, but the cast seems small.

A large focus of Flood is the hybrid Christian/Environmental Fundamentalist cult, God’s Gardeners.  Atwood does a great job showing how the ideas underlying such a belief system could come to be, how individuals could get drawn into it, and how one would practically run such a thing.  It’s an eye opening set of ideas, put forth in a diverting narrative.

Strongly Recommended.

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