The Year of the Flood is Margaret Atwood at the height of her powers. Very few authors have the courage to attempt the whole "create a religion" thing, and practically none of them can actually pull it off. Yet Atwood has here a whole book detailing a minor religious sect that isn't ridiculous on the face of it, even writing hymns that (while admittedly tedious to listen to) actually sound like hymns. This all but blows the mind.
Unfortunately, Atwood has set this whole thing in the same universe as her absolute classic, Oryx and Crake. Why? What was the point? It's like watching the greatest conjurer of all time, only to have the climax of her act be a rabbit pulled out of top hat. This book all but ruins its predecessor, filling in gaps, dispelling mysteries, and answering questions that nobody on earth wanted filled, dispelled, or answered.
OK, you know Pulp Fiction, the Quentin Tarantino film? Remember that one scene where Vincent and Jules are shaking down those kids in the apartment, and Vincent opens a mysterious attache case and stares in wonder at whatever is inside? And later, Tim Roth's character does the same thing? And you're like "what's in the case?!" Then what happened? YOU GREW UP. Now, what if Tarantino made a sequel to Pulp Fiction starring, like, Steve Buscemi's Buddy Holly waiter, where he FINDS OUT WHAT'S IN THE CASE and it's like the most obvious thing imaginable. Only fat useless nerds who don't get it at all would be super happy to see this film.
That's what this book is. It's what's in the case. Oryx and Crake was flawlessly built up to an ambiguous ending, where Jimmy's intentions are unclear and subject to a massive amount of debate. Guess what? NOT ANYMORE. Now we know what happens, and it's a load of old bunk. A lame attempt is made to replace it with another kind of cliffhanger, but it's the kind of cliffhanger where a bomb is ticking down and the screen cuts off at 00:01. WILL THE BOMB EXPLODE?
I have read most of Atwood's books and always look forward to the next. While this was not my favorite of hers, I still recommend it highly. She always creates a fascinating world with believable and interesting characters.
Oryx and Crake ranks with Handmaid's Tale as one of the finest contemporary novels I've read. Year of the Flood is just a little below that, due to its heavy handed moral indignation. Don't misunderstand...I think that Atwood has a right to be indignant. And perhaps we need an unambiguous and strong message about now. However, as a novel the pedantic tone weakens the beauty of the telling.
I would have preferred a book that didn't share so much with Oryx and Crake. Why not build a parallel story with independent characters living through the same events? The links made the story seem a little too easy.
The music was an interesting touch in this audiobook. It did give the Adam 1 sections the feeling of a religious service. However, the music was inconsistent. While some of the songs were well-done, at least half are musical cliches. Also, the high production value was at odds with what God's Gardeners would have done. A simple guitar or piano arrangement with the congregation joining in would have been less at odds with Adam 1's words.
All that said, we all need to read the Year of the Flood and Oryx and Crake. We need to consider our future and the consequences of our lifestyles. Along with non-fiction like The Omnivores Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, plus films like An Inconvenient Truth, these books create a picture of a future that is frightening and inhumane. God's Gardeners are making ethical choices as individuals. They are not relying on government and industry to make decisions for them. With all it's dogma the movement Atwood describes may give us a clue as to how the little people can impact the direction of our future. And it certainly defines a different kind of progress. One where human nature is the focus, rather than the comforts we create around us.
The characters were well written but the story was choppy. It seemed as if someone took out huge pieces of pertinent information. I hated the songs, yuk.
This is Margaret Atwood at her finest. I loved Oryx and Crake, but I think this book surpasses it. As I listen to more and more audiobooks, I find the narration is almost as important as the story and these readers prose and pace was excellent! I can't wait for the next Atwood creation.
Year of the Flood is a wonderful crafted, multi-faceted story. I loved all the characters and the interweaving. Also the slight reference to Oryx and Crake (another novel). The book shows the deep thoughts and considerations that Margaret Atwood gives to her novels. Her timeliness is right on the money.
Having never read Atwood before, at first I thought this book was weird, slow, hated the music, and forced myself to keep listening because the subject intrigued me. I started to really get into it a third of the way through, even appreciating the sickenly sweet preachy music because it actually made sense with the Gardeners. Thought the ending was anticlimatic, but I'm looking forward to listening to her other books including the prequel to this one. I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys pondering the future of our world and is interested in the what-ifs.
I'm surprised that some reviewers didn't like the connection with Oryx and Crate and/or the music. I thought the flip of perspective fascinating and not at all heavy-handed. The music added a level of immediacy and realism to the religious world of the Gardeners that works. I found this a very satisfying companion piece to Oryx and Crate.
though i loved 'oryx and crake' i was a little hesitant about listening to 'the year of the flood' -- rather than reading it -- because of all the negative comments about the singing. now, a week after finishing this book, i find myself remembering the songs. i think they drew me deeper into the strange world of the god's gardeners. and the lyrics, by margaret atwood, of course, were clever and funny. i had to force myself not to finish 'the year of the flood' too quickly. i enjoyed it as much as i had 'oryx and crake.'