Monday, July 5

Book Review: The Year of the Flood

Title: The Year of the Flood

Author: Margaret Atwood

Pages: 431

Summary: Margaret Atwood's eagerly anticipated new novel is a testament to her remarkable literary mastery and imaginative power. Though set in the undefined near future, the novel reflects a world we very much recognize and poignantly reminds us of our own enduring humanity.

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. Two women survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked away in the high-end sex club where she works, and Toby, a God's Gardener who has barricaded herself inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible.

Have others survived? Ren's bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her echo-fighter stepfather? He one time lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Paintballers? Not to mention the CorpSeCorps, the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers. . .

As Adam One and his followers make their way through a changed world, Ren and Toby will each find their way out, leading to the novel's unexpected and affecting conclusion.

By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and uneasily hilarious, The Year of the Flood is Atwood at her most brilliant and inventive.

My Rating: 9.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This was another book I couldn’t put down, Atwood has done a spectacular job at creating this post-apocalyptic world, and setting up a fascinating story that leads up to it. The reader is taken from past to present, as they get a different view on what life was like for the people in this world, than what they got in Oryx and Crake. This time, the reader is taken to God’s Gardeners, a religious cult that forms together creating a very amusing and eclectic cast of characters. This group protects each other, nurtures each other, and through the sermons and songs of the leader and religious ideals, the reader learns of an event, a waterless flood, will come and wipe out humanity. And they were right.

As I read further into the book, I really started to care about the characters and their welfare, and because you only see two characters in the present day, you don’t know the exact fate of the others. Atwood spends a lot of time setting up the story that leads up to these events, and how the two protagonists get to where they are. She creates a very detailed explanation on their past lives, histories, and the histories of their friends, by the end you are itching to find out who survived, if anyone at all.

They story of what the past was like is told splendidly. Atwood writes an incredibly detailed picture, when at creating this haunting world. There doesn’t seem to be a single detail left out in this story, as she created her own world, that as some scary similarities at times with our own, and then she destroys it just as swiftly as she created it. Margaret Atwood never fails to disappoint me with her ability to tell and create a wonderful story. She has both amazing style to tell a story, making it believable, (even the far fetched) and in writing ability, together she forms a very haunting book that sends a powerful message.

I found the present parts of the story to move a little slowly, it isn’t to the last part of the book that it really starts to grip you; in fact I found it to fly by, as I read feverishly as the climax of events slowly became unveiled. (I can’t say to much more without spoiling you.) But for the most part, it’s the characters that make the book; the reader can easily connect to them, even with their little oddities. Also, through these characters there are glimpses at a few familiar faces from Oryx and Crake. And a few loose ends that left some questions in my mind were tied-up (although plenty more are now floating around. I did find that the character Ren, is one I didn’t like much. I found her to be na├»ve, although this added a different and unique point of view on what life is like, both in God’s Gardens, and out of it, I just didn’t like her as much. It definitely adds something to the story, but out of all the characters, I cared for her the least.

There wasn’t much about the book I didn’t like. I wanted to know more about who survived, and I felt the ending left to many unanswered questions, which can be a little unsatisfying, but it was still a great ending I just felt to much was left up in the air, although, perhaps there will be another book?

Overall it was a phenomenal read.
Would I recommend it to read: I would recommend this to read, and you don’t necessarily need to read Oryx and Crake first, I think you’d enjoy the book a lot better if you read the two books as companion novels. It’s a great example of dystopian/post-apocalyptic literature, and of course almost flawless writing and story telling ability.

What to read next: Oryx and Crake (if you haven’t read the book yet)
Challenges: Read ‘n’ Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge, Countdown Challenge, RYOB Challenge,


  1. I really really really want to read this! I love Atwood (I have a whole shelf on my book case dedicated to only her books) but I haven't read this one yet. Your review makes it sound very exciting.

  2. I also have this book, but I really want to read Oryx and Crake first before I start it. It does sound really, really good though! I am staring to really like dystopian novels, and Atwood is one of the best authors of dystopians.

  3. Oryx and Crake was kinda creepy, but I couldn't put it down. I bet this one will be the same, it sounds just as compelling.

  4. I really need to try something else by Atwood.

  5. Becky - You should read it soon, it's worth it. Even if your TBR list, or other books that are currently on the go have to wait.

    Zibilee - It would be worth it to read Oryx and Crake first, as it is a fantastic read as well. I found Oryx and Crake because beginning of 2009 I went through a dystopian phase. And it was one of my favourite ones.

    Jeane - It was creepy! Part of why I liked it, it was so disturbing at time, but it had you hooked.

    Amanda - Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood are good choices, especially if you enjoy dystopian lit. Also, Edible Woman and some of her short stories/novellas might be something you' want to check out.

  6. I know that this is years later, but I stumbled upon your blog. Did you know that Atwood is actually planning a third installment, tracing the Mad Adam fanatic group, which may resolve some of the questions left open at the ending.

    1. I heard some rumours there may be a third instalment. But nothing ever concrete. I really hope a third one comes out soon. Thanks for commenting, even after all these years!