117 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying but uplifting conclusion to Atwood's "MaddAddam Trilogy"
I've been a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction since I first read EARTH ABIDES when I was in high school. I've probably read them all, to greater or lesser degrees of enjoyment. It's rare to find such a novel written by a literary great - a George Orwell, or an Aldous Huxley, or a Cormac McCarthy. Or a Margaret Atwood. Her HANDMAID'S TALE is one of my all-time favorites,...
Published 17 months ago by kacunnin
78 of 89 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Maddening MaddAddam
Clearly, I'm in a small minority here, but I was utterly disappointed by MaddAddam. It's not only a limp conclusion to the trilogy; it's a sequel that is so badly conceived--so slipshod in its plotting, such a betrayal of the characterization of the first two works, and so much a boring retread of themes more cleverly presented the first two times around--that it actually...
Published 13 months ago by zashibis
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117 of 131 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying but uplifting conclusion to Atwood's "MaddAddam Trilogy",
I've been a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction since I first read EARTH ABIDES when I was in high school. I've probably read them all, to greater or lesser degrees of enjoyment. It's rare to find such a novel written by a literary great - a George Orwell, or an Aldous Huxley, or a Cormac McCarthy. Or a Margaret Atwood. Her HANDMAID'S TALE is one of my all-time favorites, and I gobbled up ORYX AND CRAKE when it was released in 2004. MADDADDAM is the third in what has been called Atwood's "MaddAddam Trilogy," and it concludes the story began in ORYX AND CRAKE and continued in THE YEAR OF THE FLOOD.
The story begins just as YEAR OF THE FLOOD ends - Toby and Ren have rescued Amanda from the vile Painballers who had kidnapped her, the two villains have been tied to a tree for safekeeping, Snowman (guardian of the so-called "Children of Crake," or "Crakers") is gravely ill from an infection, and the gentle Crakers are singing their strange songs. What happens in MADDADDAM is mainly Toby's story, and Zeb's story, told through Toby. Much of it is told in flashbacks (things that happened in the years before the "Waterless Flood" destroyed all human life on Earth, and in the years just after that pandemic). But in the novel's final act, things happen that conclude the trilogy in a very satisfying way.
For those who have not read the first two novels (or those - like me - who have forgotten major details of the story), Atwood provides a brief introduction called "The Story So Far." This is a great help, and will refresh readers as to who these characters are and how the world came to be as it is. In ORYX AND CRAKE, we learned how Crake engineered a pandemic that wiped out most human life. But first, he created the Crakers through genetic engineering, a race of gentle, kind humanoid beings without violent tendencies or dangerous human emotions - the Crakers have natural insect repellent in their blood, eat only leaves and grass, and mate only when they are in estrus (or "heat"). There is no jealousy among them, no pettiness, no greed - none of the things that led the human race to turn the world into a virtual garbage can. In some ways, the Crakers are reminiscent of the Eloi (from Wells's THE TIME MACHINE), a sheep-like herd of newly-evolved humans without either a competitive drive or a natural instinct for self-preservation. But Atwood's Crakers are much, much more than that, as MADDADDAM reveals.
In YEAR OF THE FLOOD, we met Toby and the other "God's Gardeners" (a "green religious group" focused on reverence for the earth), and Zeb and Adam (who fought the Corps that controlled the world through the MaddAddam Chat Room), and the evil Painballers (who survived the Corps-sponsored battles in the Painball Arenas and became rapists, murderers, and cannibals).
The world Atwood has created in this trilogy is one that seems totally believable, a natural progression from the political fallout of our twenty-first century world. The clash between those who worship oil and wealth, and those committed to protecting the Earth, has morphed into a reality in which corporations (supported by religion) control everything and science has been perverted into a means of creating genetically engineered plants and animals to satisfy an increasing demand for "products" (for example, the "Pigoons" were created by splicing human and pig genes to grow organs for human transplant, and the "Mo'Hairs" are able to produce colorful, silky human hair for wigs). This is a depressing and horrific vision of a future that might actually happen, that is perhaps already happening in subtle, insidious ways. And as such MADDADDAM is decidedly terrifying.
At the same time, Atwood's vision of a future in which the dominant races may not be totally human is ultimately hopeful. The Pigoons, it turns out, are not just pigs with human genetic material, and the Crakers are not just placid, mindless singers. By the end of MADDADDAM I was reminded of Octavia Butler's LILITH'S BROOD, in which humanity is virtually lost but becomes something else altogether, something very different but perhaps just as wondrous.
Atwood's writing is challenging, and there's no way to read MADDADDAM for its plot (which is the least important aspect of the novel). Instead, read it for its vision into what being human has become, what it once was, and what it could be in a future of our own making. In ORYX AND CRAKE, Crake wiped out most of the human race, hoping to "reboot" the world, to begin again in a different way. In MADDADDAM, Atwood gives us a glimpse of what that rebooted world might be like and what it might mean for the handful of human beings left alive. It's a terrifying, beautiful, and uplifting story, all at once. I recommend it to any fan of post-apocalyptic fiction, or to any lover of great literature. Atwood is a wonderful writer, and MADDADDAM is a satisfying ending to a great trilogy.
78 of 89 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Maddening MaddAddam,
Clearly, I'm in a small minority here, but I was utterly disappointed by MaddAddam. It's not only a limp conclusion to the trilogy; it's a sequel that is so badly conceived--so slipshod in its plotting, such a betrayal of the characterization of the first two works, and so much a boring retread of themes more cleverly presented the first two times around--that it actually diminishes the achievement of the earlier novels. It may, in fact, be the worst follow-up to a successful novel that I've ever read. If Oryx & Crake is Star Wars, then this novel is The Phantom Menace.
There's simply no way to talk about the novel's failures without referring to specific plot points, so read no further if you intend to read MaddAddam but haven't read it yet.
The first problem is, having contrived to have Snowman and the Crakers meet up with the survivors of the MaddAddam / God's Gardener's group at the end of both of the previous novels, Atwood was, very clearly, at a total loss as to what to do with them next, how to move the story forward. Therefore, the "forward" plot movement of the novel only starts in earnest after p. 261, when it is (very implausibly) revealed that the Crakers (the genetically-modified humans) can communicate with the pigoons (the genetically-modified pigs) and the latter want the the normal Homo Sapiens's help with killing the two "painballers" captured at the end of Year of the Flood, but who were allowed to escape at the very beginning of this novel (another feeble implausibility). This, despite the fact that the MaddAddamites themselves have also been killing and eating the pigoons all along. So, the remaining humans, relying on the pigoons' sense of smell and a Craker translator, track the two killers down, but not before Snowman and Adam One are allowed to die comically melodramatic, self-sacrificing deaths, worthy of the most sentimentally piffling of Dickens's endings.
Atwood does understand that this wee episode--"bad guys escape; good guys hang around doing nothing in particular for several months; good guys track down bad guys"--isn't nearly enough of a plot to construct an entire novel around. So, most of the novel has nothing to do with that. Instead, it's backstory--yet more backstory, in a series of novels that has already consisted largely of flashbacks--this time about the previously peripheral character of Zeb.
Alas, this new backstory must rank as some of the very worst writing Atwood has ever done. It is completely haphazard, un-thought-out, driveling, and trivial. It reads, for all the world, like a very bad parody of Thomas Pynchon. Zeb steals millions of dollars from his father, a corrupt fraud of a fundamentalist preacher, and goes on the lam, spending hundreds of pages flitting from one nonsensical disguise to another: a pilot for an environmental group aiding polar bears, a burger flipper, a professional hacker, a magician's assistant, a toilet cleaner, a bouncer, a gardener, a data-entry drone...and probably others I'm forgetting. Not a single one of these incarnations is well-developed...or even lasts long enough long enough for me to begin to be interested in the new environment where Atwood has randomly inserted Zeb, always for only a single chapter, with no rhyme or reason. Whether working the most menial of jobs or more middle-class covers there's *never* actually a compelling reason for Zeb to be where he finds himself, especially since he supposedly has millions in the bank. It's all a chaotic, vapid shaggy dog story with no punchline at the end, told largely in annoyingly ersatz Raymond Chandler-eque "tough guy" speak.
Worse than the unnecessariness of Zeb's story, though, is the sheer sloppiness of its plotting. At one point, for instance, Zeb is assigned the important task of smuggling some dangerous new bio-engineered pills out of the HelthWyzer West compound where he has been working. The description of this goes on for pages and pages: the precautions Zeb takes when leaving the compound; the precautions taken hiding them at his new place of employ; how careful they are not to reveal the hiding place. Then, on a whim, he uses half of the pills in an act of revenge, and mayhem ensues. Following this, the person who asked him to smuggle the pills in the first place, Pilar, decides it might just be a good idea to find out what's actually in them. But then that plan to analyze the pills is casually abandoned, and the mysterious pills are simply retained by Pilar. And then, equally casually, after some years, they are sent to the young Crake as a legacy after Pilar's demise. And then Crake (it is presumed) uses them as the basis for his own BlyssPlus pills that destroy humanity.
What a muddle. All these cloak-and-dagger peregrinations and machinations...but then Crake gets the keys to destroying humanity almost as an afterthought? Or did the saintly Pilar of YOTF actually intend that he use them in precisely that way? Atwood's intentions here are entirely opaque. It's especially frustrating, as the long-hinted-at connection between the God's Gardeners and Crake otherwise never comes to full fruition. Likewise, Zeb and Adam have to live in hiding for years and years, but then end up living together openly in the same community using their real names? It hardly makes any sense.
In all, MaddAddam reads like a first draft that nobody dared question or revise--an improvisation in which loose ends, instead of being tied up, are multiplied exponentially.
Also, as a scant handful of insightful reviewers here have pointed out, the characters of Toby, Ren, Amanda, and Snowman (irritatingly referred to here mostly as "Snowman-the-Jimmy") bear only a passing resemblance to the major characters of the same name in the earlier novels. Tough, self-reliant Toby of YOTF has become a simpering and pathetically insecure helpmate to Zeb--forever girlishly worried that he's eyeing one of the younger surviving women. Ren is a virtual non-entity, relegated to one or two unmemorable lines every 50 pages or so. And Snowman spends most of the book in a coma...and when he finally wakes up, he's without a scintilla of the self-awareness or irony that animated the narrative voice of Oryx & Crake. The "continuity" failure in relation to the previous novels is almost complete. And the brief reappearance of Adam as a hostage at the end of novel proves to be pointless as well as being utterly beyond belief.
Being Atwood, the novel is, of course, not 100% bad. There's a good deal of wit in Toby's attempts to render Zeb's stories about his life into a form the innocent Crakers can comprehend and use as the basis for a newly-minted bible / creation myth of their own. And some of the details about day-to-day life in a post-Apocalyptic world are cleverly worked out.
On the whole, however, this is a very sorry misstep from an author I've previously admired very much. I rather wish I hadn't read it and had spared myself this saccharine and third-rate chaser to the enjoyable Oryx & Crake and Year of the Flood.
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atwood's Dystopian Trilogy Reaches A Tidy Conclusion: Gentler And More Amusing Than Its Predecessors,
I think it's fair to say that I am a huge fan of the works of Margaret Atwood. In fact, "The Year of the Flood" was my personal choice as Best Book of 2009. So I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of "MaddAddam," the concluding chapter of the MaddAddam trilogy. With her previous efforts, the aforementioned "Flood" and its predecessor "Oryx and Crake," the brilliant Atwood set her sights on a dystopian future that was alternately savage and satirical. The fact that Atwood's bleak vision seemed both far off and eerily plausible was a testament to her extraordinary storytelling ability. She so expertly straddled the line between science fiction and social commentary, it was almost impossible not to admire the complexities and challenges she had to offer in her unquestionably unique voice.
While "Oryx and Crake" and "The Year of the Flood" had some overlap, each was a relatively independent novel from a character standpoint. Of course, the principle plot points driving the narrative were common to both books (but seen from a different vantage point), but either could be enjoyed separately. I've often thought of them more as companion pieces as opposed to one being the sequel to another. Not so, however, for "MaddAddam." Bringing together the characters from the prior novels, I would not necessarily recommend it as a stand alone read. At the beginning of "MaddAddam," Atwood wisely includes a recap of the story so far. Wow! While certainly a helpful refresher, I can't imagine a newbie tackling these dense few pages and making much sense of them. Each book is whittled away to about a page and half of recap which will surely scare away the uninitiated!
Although the cast is filled with familiar personalities, some of your favorite characters might have been relegated to smaller roles (Ren, for example). Toby (The Year of The Flood) remains central to everything, Jimmy (Oryx and Crake) plays a key role, and Zeb's story becomes the central narrative that drives this piece. In fact, more than anything, "MaddAddam" seems concerned with story telling. The book is structured in snippets of actual history interspersed with communicated interpretations of actual events. A group of engineered Crakers have joined the group. Gentle and very literal by nature, they struggle to understand the complexities of the world and their place in it. First through stories and then through writing, Toby (always the record keeper) helps them to make sense of the history of this new world. Balancing the horrors of the past with the hope for the future, "MaddAddam" is all about how the survivors will now make peace with their new circumstances.
In tone, the book is much gentler than its predecessors. And while I appreciate what Atwood was attempting, the novel felt a lot less urgent and spellbinding. Where I puzzled over the mysteries of "Oryx and Crake" and was riveted by the harrowing circumstances of "The Year of the Flood," my primary reaction to "MaddAddam" was one of amusement. I was entertained and usually had a smile on my face. It's an engaging read, sure enough, but somehow less compelling (at least to me). In essence, history is writing itself in these chapters to be passed down to future generations. While there is danger, death, and ultimate truths revealed--most of these are shared second hand. Everything is viewed through a gauzy filter and the dramatic consequences don't have the emotional resonance that I felt in the other books. Still, as a lover of this tale, this is still required reading. It pulls a lot of things together and gives the trilogy true closure. Ultimately, I liked "MaddAddam" as opposed to loving it. Four years after reading "The Year of the Flood," the experience is still emblazoned in my memory. For my personal taste, I don't see this one having the same enduring appeal. KGHarris, 8/13.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Conclusion to a Great Trilogy,
It has been a privilege to be allowed to read "MaddAddam," the third and concluding volume in Margaret Atwood's speculative-fiction trilogy, just a bit sooner than the rest of the world. But describing it in a useful way for other potential readers may be difficult.
That's because the whole trilogy is not only a superlative contribution to a genre--speculative fiction, dystopian science fiction, whatever--it is also a thoroughly developed literary work that needs no such categorization to succeed with thoughtful readers of all stripes.
If you read a lot of speculative fiction (I don't), I hope that you will like this as well. Some people otherwise drawn to the genre may complain about Atwood's relative lack of emphasis on plot or narrative. In fact, there's a lot of storytelling in "MaddAddam," especially the kind of back-story narrative from a particular character's point of view that fills us in on the adventures of Zeb and Adam (mostly Zeb) before the Waterless Flood. In the post-Flood sections, the pacing is much more deliberate, but the buildup to the concluding episode and its aftermath is handled masterfully. I thought the book (and thus the trilogy) ended in a very satisfying, emotionally gripping manner. (I'm determined not to reveal much about the specific plot in this review.)
This book is handled more like The Year of the Flood than like Oryx and Crake. For me that was good, because I thought "The Year of the Flood" opened out the story in a better way. As in that book, Atwood makes a central figure out of Toby, a God's Gardeners apprentice of herbalist, beekeeper and mystic Pilar. Much of the novel is told from her point of view. This really helps anchor the story. It's impossible not to care about a person so intelligent, so self-aware, so vulnerable, and so generous. And yet she has a sense of humor!
As does Atwood, obviously. Her love of wordplay, and her savagely funny depictions of the pre-Flood "chaos," a world driven by crass corporate entities that wield astonishing technology in the worst possible manner, leap off every page. She usually finds the magic spot between what seems surreal and what seems all-too-real, and then twists the knife just a bit. It reminds me of what Gary Shteyngart accomplishes in Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel although Atwood's work retains more heart.
This is clear from her depiction of the Crakers, the race of impossibly innocent beings created by mad-scientist Crake as part of his plan to repopulate the planet with better humans. In a lesser writer's hands, they might become comic relief or plot enablers but little more. Well, here they become much more. I am not going to give away anything else, except to note that things develop in surprising but touching and believable ways. That's true of the entire world--Pigoons, Painballers, Snake Women--that Atwood has created. We get not only the scenery, the architecture, the cast of characters. We also get inside these creatures (human and otherwise) and we see them collaborate, learn, and ultimately begin to transform themselves and their surroundings.
In short, whether you are a sci-fi/fantasy fan or a follower of the best in current literary fiction, you are going to find this third book a very satisfying read. And since it isn't coming out for another month or so, you have a chance to read the first two volumes first.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Let Down,
I was a huge fan of "Oryx and Crake", loved "Year of the Flood" as well, and was constantly checking to see when the third installment in the trilogy would be published. Having read it, I have to agree with those who feel that "MaddAddam" is not in the same league as the first two books. I appreciate Atwood's playful technique of folding stories within stories and telling different versions the same incident. Zeb's back story, which occupies a large portion of the novel, is ribald and picaresque and harrowing, just as it should be... but the present-tense post-apocalyptic story feels flaccid by comparison. I always enjoy this author's wild imagination and her satiric sense of humor. The Crakers are certainly much funnier than the Eloi in HG Well's "The Time Machine"... to whom they bear some resemblance... with the Painballers as an update of the Morlocks...but, as plotlines go, the Zeb/Toby love story and the quest to locate Adam One just don't deliver the goods.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars ... had me believeing the world had ended and a wonderful new species was going to populate the Earth,
Oryx & Crake had me believeing the world had ended and a wonderful new species was going to populate the Earth. By the time I got to the end of the third book I was convinced I was watching an episode of Survivor and the wonderful new species was mentally retarded. "Snowman The Jimmy" seriously? I also had to ask myself, was this a world wide cataclysm or not? It didn't feel that way to me. All the main characters are still alive with most of them having no explanation as to how. Ren was originally singled out and given a backstory as to why she survived but that counted for nothing when all of the member of the Gardeners came through unscathed. Also we are told that the very infrastructure is crumbling everywhere. Except the AnooYoo Spa which it seems has clean towels and loads of fresh soap. Also of some concern to me is why - with the Earth as a free for all go nuts take anything you want place - the escaped Painballers just stay hanging around the Cobb House! And while I'm on the subject of scale; considering this a world wide catastrophe, why is the entire surviving world condensed into an area the size of a football field?? The purity of the idea and execution behind the first book was polluted by the following two. Now where's my BlyssPluss? I have a headache.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars didn't feel like it came from our world,
I loved so much in MaddAddam, and I adore Margaret Atwood to such a great extent that I feel guilty giving it anything other than high praise. But as with Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, the other two books in the trilogy, I never fully lost myself in the world she created.
For one, I felt distanced by her neologisms and fictional brand names. They just didn't ring true for me-they encapsulated the ideas she was expressing but didn't feel organic to any world. For example, the strip club is called Scales and Tails. Sure, it features women dressed up like exotic birds, and some creepy snake stuff, but the name is just so intellectualized. It's not dirty or edgy. Similarly, I kept getting distracted by the spa called AnooYoo. Why the weird spelling? It can't be extrapolated organically from anything I can link to in our reality. It's like it's constructed merely to telegraph that this world is in the future. And it's a shame, because the scenes set in these locations have all the depth and drama and complexity that I expect from Atwood.
And that leads me to a bigger criticism. Atwood has some very legitimate big ideas, and she's a brilliant and beautiful writer. I do love and adore her, and always will. But her criticism and dystopian vision seem woefully divorced from the world we live in today. The technological elements felt stuck in the early 1990s. None of her characters seemed like progeny of the digital age. This could be the result of beginning the trilogy about 10 years ago, but even so she still feels very much out of date. I'm not expecting William Gibson but I was frustrated with the missed opportunity.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I'll sing her praises for the best part of the book-the complexity of the relationship between the humans and the Crakers. One of the devices in the book is that the Crakers expect a story every night, a tradition started by Snowman in book 1. Jimmy is comatose at the start of this book, so Toby (who played a prominent role in book 2), has taken over. She is trying to explain the history of the apocalypse to people who are innocent, and Atwood's prose is just exquisite. ("Please stop singing.") And I really loved the character of Zeb and how she kept his journey personal even as it connected with the very big things that were going on. And lastly, I was pleasantly surprised with how she incorporated the pigoon hybrids into the story. I wasn't expecting the story to head in that direction and it raised a lot of fascinating ideas.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing book that mainly recycles not invents,
I really wanted to love this book. And while I did enjoy the read (mainly for Atwood's writing style) there just isn't much here and certainly nothing here that wasn't explored much better in the first book.
Beware, absolutely do not read this book unless you've read the first two! If you do you will be thoroughly confused and frustrated. While this book works as a somewhat tangential sequel to the original Oryx and Crake (O&C), it really is the direct sequel to The Year of the Flood (YOTF). This book essentially is narrated by Toby (from YOTF) as she tells the story of her lover Zeb (also from YOTF), who is the brother of Adam, the founder of the God's Gardeners (also from YOTF).
The direct tie to O&C, Snowman-the-Jimmy, was in a comatose state at the end of O&C. He doesn't wake up in MaddAddam (MA) until nearly page 150 and isn't lucid enough to converse until about page 260 (out of 390 pages). He ends up being a very minor character in this book. Thus, while the 4-page introduction, covering the story so far, is nice, it just isn't deep enough to truly bring first-time readers up to speed. It does help to remind those who've read the first two books what has transpired.
This book suffers greatly from lacking any real plot that moves the book forward. MaddAddam barely advances the story into the future and when it does, it all takes place in the last 20 pages or so. And it does so in snippets, with less than a page wrapping up the lives of various characters (e.g., Toby, Zeb, and others).
In the current world there is only one action-related plot, and it doesn't get barely started until after page 300! It involves working with the pigoons to track down the two Painballers who had kidnapped and tortured Amanda in YOTF. To do this they have to return to the Paradice Dome where Crake created the Crakers. But it feels both rushed as well as disconnected from the rest of the novel, as if Atwood knew she had to have some action and plot and just threw it in at the end. Her focus throughout this book is first and foremost on Toby, Adam, and especially Zeb as they existed in the pre-apocolyptic world. But we've already spent two entire books in this world. So there is nothing new, exciting, or innovative about going back in time to learn Zeb's life journey.
As for all the life journeying in the past that relates to the first two books, about all that we really learn are snippets from Adam's life, as he cuts in and out of Zeb's, and a bit of back story about Pilar's interaction with them and a very young Crake. We see how the foundation of the doomsday technology is created, stolen, protected, used (to kill a father), and eventually given to Crake. The irony as regards the world's demise is very pregnant indeed.
I think one of my greatest disappointments is in the thematic trajectory taken by the book. It ends up coming close to being a rather simplistic back-to-nature, re-set humanity eco-utopia. While the world Atwood described in O&C was horrific, by the conclusion of MA the reader is led to see the apocolypse that has destroyed humanity was worth it. That the world is now better off with the bio-engineered Crakers, who can somehow communicate with the bio-enigneered pigoons (who are quite intelligent), and who are now fathering their own Craker-specific offsprings as well as the hybrid children of the remnants of man. Yet, thankfully, I do believe Atwood realizes that the re-set isn't permanent and that eventually the Crakers will develop like man did. Their final ability to write and read and create the Book using Words, as taught to the Craker child Blackbeard by Toby during MA, likely means what it has to us as we've written and interpreted many books over the millenium...whether it is Bible vs Koran or The Wealth of Nations vs. the Communist Manifesto, etc. Words are ideas and ideas are powerful motivators that often lead to great conflict. Of course, this only makes sense since a sick world that produces a monster like Crake can only produce sick offspring, even if that sickness will take a long time to come to fruition. The offspring of Dr. Frankenstein are in his image and likeness and cannot but end up in the footsteps of their creator.
Like most trilogies, the law of diminishing marginal returns sets in with a vengeance. What was truly innovative, unique, and horrific in O&C has become rather mundane and repetitive in MA. Yes, we get to spend more time in this world and with its inhabitants, but the sense of wonder and shock is long gone. Where O&C is a masterpiece and YOTF a good read, MA seems to be mostly filler. If only Atwood had devoted MA to realizing what happened after the apocolypse rather than just re-telling the apocolypse for the third time! So...I'd recommend just reading O&C and then using your own imagination to complete the story. But if you have read O&C and YOTF then most certainly read MA. This world and these characters are worth the third book if you've read the first two. But only just barely.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A less than satisfying conclusion to the trilogy,
"Oryx and Crake" was a fantastically good dystopian novel: imaginative, fast moving, filled with clever wordplay, lots of surprises and fireworks. "The Year of the Flood," a parallel story, was less compelling, but still engaging, with its different point of view on the same global catastrophe.
Unfortunately, "Maddaddam" does not earn the same praise. After a minimal plot advance from YOTF, the book is mainly taken up with flashbacks to male protagonist Zeb's adventures before the "waterless flood," some of which seriously fail the willing-suspension-of-disbelief test. This reader was continually asking himself where on earth Atwood was going with all this. The conversion of those adventures into a virtual Book of Genesis for the guileless, innocent Crakers was clever, entertaining, and sometimes hilarious. But none of the backstories really advanced the main plot, and their connection to the eventual outcome was pretty tangential.
As to characters, Zeb is by turns hero and thug, a conflict that's never really reconciled. Female protagonist and main narrator Toby is not as strong a character in Maddaddam as in YOTF. For most of this book, Snowman (ironic, convincing narrator of "Oryx and Crake" and unwilling creator of the Craker mythology) merely languishes, as does Amanda, a strong character in YOTF. But the youthful Craker Blackbeard is well imagined and well drawn, and indeed the plot's end game would have been impossible without him.
All in all, mostly entertaining, with flashes of Atwood's brilliance. But no page-turner. The ending, a hopeful but only partial resolution, didn't provide any more closure than its predecessors did. Three stars.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Such a disappointment,
SPOILER ALERT: I must admit, science fiction is not my usual reading fare. I found Oryx and Crake years ago on a "staff recommends" table at a book store and was intrigued. I read and loved the book. I was irritated that I hadn't taken note it was book one in a trilogy, but now, I was in it. I immediately bought and read Year of the Flood. Then, I waited and waited for the third book. I was so excited when I heard it was coming out this September. Since it had been too long since I'd read Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood, I reread them both immediately before beginning MaddAddam, which I just finished last night. I still love Oryx and Crake and find it by far the best of the three books. Year of the Flood, with all the new characters and God's Gardeners hymns took some time for me to warm up to, but I did ultimately enjoy it. MaddAddam just left me disappointed. It lacked much of the wit and writing style I've so enjoyed in other Atwood books. The Craker storytelling device was overused. I understood when I reached the end of the book why, but that didn't help because the end of the book made me feel like Atwood just ran out of steam and interest in her own created world and characters and was looking for a quick and dirty way to end it all. It fizzled out instead of going out with the big bang I was expecting. I didn't like what happened with Zeb at the end -- we are to believe there were other humans still making their way in this world, and everyone just obliterated each other? Why the rush to that conclusion? And Atwood threw up some interesting questions, none of which will ever be resolved. Do the half human/half Craker children have built in insect repellant, do they purr, do they sing? Or are they more human? We'll never know anything about them and whether the world is set to repeat itself or Crake actually pulled off his intended feat. I didn't like Amanda and Ren being relegated the way they were, especially the feisty Amanda. I did enjoy the Zeb back story, and that he opened up to Toby and they found true love and happiness together. The pigoon thing didn't appeal to me, especially because there was no explanation as to how Blackbeard or any other Craker could communicate with them. They weren't designed to eat animals, but there was no design to make them kindred and able to communicate with animals. I have a friend who read books one and two as well, I'm not so sure I'll encourage her to complete the trilogy. To me, it detracted from the wonders of Oryx and Crake.
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MaddAddam (The Maddaddam Trilogy) by Margaret Atwood (Paperback - August 12, 2014)