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The Year of the Flood Paperback – July 27, 2010
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The long-awaited new novel from Margaret Atwood. The Year of the Flood is a dystopic masterpiece and a testament to her visionary power.
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 have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God's Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible.
Have others survived? Ren's bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers...
Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo'hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move. They can't stay locked away...
By turns dark, tender, violent, thoughtful, and uneasily hilarious, The Year of the Flood is Atwood at her most brilliant and inventive.
Margaret Atwood on The Year of the Flood
I’ve never before gone back to a novel and written another novel related to it. Why this time? Partly because so many people asked me what happened right after the end of the 2003 novel, Oryx and Crake. I didn’t actually know, but the questions made me think about it. That was one reason. Another was that the core subject matter has continued to preoccupy me.
When Oryx and Crake came out, it seemed to many like science fiction--way out there, too weird to be possible--but in the three years that passed before I began writing The Year of the Flood, the perceived gap between that supposedly unreal future and the harsh one we might very well live through was narrowing fast. What is happening to our world? What can we do to reverse the damage? How long have we got? And, most importantly--what kind of "we"? In other words, what kind of people might undertake the challenge? Dedicated ones--they’d have to be. And unless you believe our planet is worth saving, why bother?
So the question of inspirational belief entered the picture, and once you have a set of beliefs--as distinct from a body of measurable knowledge--you have a religion. The God’s Gardeners appear briefly in Oryx and Crake, but in The Year of the Flood, they’re central. Like all religions, the Gardeners have their own leader, Adam One. They also have their own honoured saints and martyrs, their special days, their theology. They may look strange and obsessive and even foolish to non-members, but they’re serious about what they profess; as are their predecessors, who are with us today. I’ve found out a great deal about rooftop gardens and urban beekeeping while writing this book!
Another question frequently asked about Oryx and Crake concerned gender. Why was the story told by a man? How would it have been different if the narrator had been a woman? Such questions led me to Ren and Toby, and then to their respective lives, and also to their places of refuge. A high-end sex club and a luxury spa would in fact be quite good locations in which to wait out a pandemic plague: at least you’d have bar snacks, and a lot of clean towels.
In his book, The Art Instinct, Denis Dutton proposes that our interest in narrative is built in--selected during the very long period the human race spent in the Pleistocene--because any species with the ability to tell stories about both past and future would have an evolutionary edge. Will there be a crocodile in the river tomorrow, as there was last year? If so, better not go there. Speculative fictions about the future, like The Year of the Flood, are narratives of that kind. Where will the crocodiles be? How will we avoid them? What are our chances? --Margaret Atwood
(Photo © George Whiteside)--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Readers of 2003's Oryx and Crake will recognize the world of The Year of the Flood. Neither a prequel nor a sequel, the latter is more of a companion novel. It's set in the same world, covering roughly the same time span. Whereas Oryx and Crake was a post-apocalyptic narrative told from Jimmy's point of view, here the narrators are Toby and Ren. Jimmy, Oryx, and Crake make appearances in this novel, and readers of both books will discovered minor characters from the former novel are major characters in the latter. In short, the two are intertwined, but may be read in any order. It is not necessary to have read Oryx and Crake first, though ultimately reading them both is an immensely satisfying experience, shedding light on many aspects of the story being told.
Now to the story...Toby and Ren have both spent significant portions of their lives involved with a fringe religious group called God's Gardeners. Ren was brought to the ascetic group as a child by her mother. Toby found her way there out of desperation in adulthood. Each has professed disbelief in the tenets of the religion, but the pacifistic and environmental teachings have become deeply ingrained in both. At the opening of the novel, it is Year Twenty-Five in the God's Gardeners' calendar; the Year of the Waterless Flood.
From the beginning, the group's prophet-like leader had preached that a "waterless flood" was coming to wipe out humanity. In addition to their dogmatic environmentalism, the group believed in preparing for this flood with survival skills and food caches called "Ararats.Read more ›
Thus, it's quite amazing that her newest dystopia is so different, so inventive, and so convincing, even though elements of "The Year of the Flood" overlap with those in "Oryx and Crake" and the novels are set in parallel, time-wise, with a male protagonist in "Oryx" and two female protagonists, Toby and Ren, in "Flood." Completely original and central to "Flood" is the made-up religion (complete with made-up hymns) of Gods Gardeners, led by its fatherly chief composter, sermonizer, and philosopher, Adam One.Read more ›
Set in a future time period (year unspecified), the earth has largely been decimated - many animal species are extinct, there are deserts where none existed before and the human population has largely segregated itself into subgroups that have very little interaction between them. With this situation, a pandemic (the waterless flood) takes place which wipes out most of the human race. The novel follows two primary characters, both female, as they try to survive in this post-apocalyptic era. Both women share their stories via memories of what their lives were like prior to the pandemic. It took me a long time to read this book since I wasn't totally involved and I think that is for three basic reasons:
1) I never really cared about the characters. They went through lots of horrific events and yet I just didn't seem to get emotionally involved with them
2) By the end of the book, there were too many coincidences where things just fell neatly into place. It just seemed too tidy for me.
3) The names of the animals and future inventions were too "cutsy" and rather than seeming clever, just seemed over-done.
Again, I didn't hate the book and I'm glad I read it, but it won't be something I re-read in the future.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The series just didn't capture my interest, but my son and daughter disagree; they loved it!Published 13 days ago by Wayne J. Byrnes
'The Year of the Flood' is an interesting follow-up to 'Oryx and Crake'. The author moves further into the notion mankind destroys the world because of stuff like bio-engineering. Read morePublished 1 month ago by lazza
You need to read all three books in the trilogy - this is high quality literature and a wonderful world to visit! Did not want the trilogy to end.Published 1 month ago by Cheril C. Carrington
The only fault I have with this book is the slow start. It takes a while for the action to really get going. Over all an excellent read.Published 1 month ago by Josh M.
Atwood has built a trilogy around apocalypse and bio-engineering gone wrong. Flood suffers from the same issues as all transitional volumes in s series do: she's set up a world,... Read morePublished 2 months ago by James L. Webster
Love it! The first book (Oryx and Crake) dragged a bit (probably because I didn't like the main character, Jimmy), but the life inside God's Gardeners was really interesting. Read morePublished 2 months ago by EDG