Friday, October 1, 2010

BOOK: The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, 431 pages

4th CBC Challenge; It's the End of the World Challenge; Giller longlist 2009

(The cover is gorgeous! See that face?)
Teenagers are such interesting creatures. I had this book on my desk for Silent Reading period (which we still do in high school) and a student saw it. He said Oryx and Crake was one of his favorite books. Wow, not a book or author I'd expect many sixteen year old boys to like. I was pleased a few days later to be able to tell him that Oryx and Crake had just showed up  in this book. I'll have to lend this book to him. And now I have to find my copy of Oryx and Crake to try. I was scared last year by some mixed reviews, but now that I am familiar with the world, I may attempt it. The Year of the Flood is a companion novel to Oryx and Crake, so not necessary to read one before the other, and I believe they are now described as being part of a trilogy.

What I like about dystopian novels is the way authors imagine a world, similar to ours, but more extreme. You can see how life has evolved to this new state of spliced animals like the liolambs or rakunks. This novel is sometime in the future, after the Waterless Flood, which appears to be a pandemic virus that kills only humans. Two women, Ren and Toby, who ended up in an isolation situation, survived the flood. Both were previously members of The Gardeners, a cult based on respecting animals and the Earth. Each chapter begins with a sermon, and a song. I usually sang the song in my head with typical hymn music.  The Gardeners honor their saints each day, based on naturalists or well known people from now. For example, Saint David Suzuki and Saint Terry Fox, plus so many more that I didn't even recognize. I imagined The Gardeners were like PETA in the future, as they completely avoided any animal products.

Ren and Toby alternate chapters to show how they ended up in the place they did from their time in The Gardeners. There are so many issues to discuss in this novel - the Corporations who run the world, the gene splicing, the extinct animals, what a person can do to survive when absolutely necessary. I also found the book quite humorous, not in one-liners, but somehow it was funny. Toby was a bit of a cynic so she was sarcastic and funny in her head as she dealt with the strong believers.

The story runs along nicely, back and forth in time, very easy to want to keep reading. The women were strong, but I did feel a slight detachedness from them. I cared what happened but I wasn't emotionally attached to them. It seemed a tad coincidental that the only people who survived were all connected somehow, rather convenient. The ending was rather ambiguous as well, but it didn't bother me as much as it might have - it was hopeful, as I like my dystopian novels to be.

In honour of the 30th anniversay of the Terry Fox Runs this past week:
Saint Terry's Day is dedicated to all Wayfarers - prime among them Saint Terry Fox who ran so far with one mortal and one metallic leg; who set a shining example of courage in the face of overwhelming odds; who showed what eh human body can do in the way of locomotion without fossil fuels; who raced against Mortality, and in the end outran his own Death, and lives on in Memory. p 403

also reviewed:
rhinoa at rhinoa's ramblings
leeswammes' blog
jules at jules' book review 
softdrink at fizzy thoughts
wendy at caribousmom
kailana and chrisbookarama buddy read
lori at she treads softly