I'm about half way through, but I have little idea of what is going on. It is very hard to follow. One criticism that I haven't seen in this list is that several of the characters are named either Anne or Thomas, and the author makes little effort to differentiate them in conversations. I was about half way through the first section, when for several minutes there was a description of how Anne, who I thought was Anne Boleyn, died. Since Anne Boleyn is integral to the rest of the story, I had to figure out which Anne the author was talking about.
The story was interesting. I learned a lot. It was interesting to see the political, economic, and environmental impact that this common household product, had on world history. The one negative about the audio version of this book is that the text is broken up with recipes relevant to the chapters. While a reader can easily glance over the recipe, and skip to the next section of prose, the audio listener doesn't have that luxury, and the recipes for sour kraut and soy sauce are not very useful in audio form.
It is as if the story teller related the events to an encyclopedia writer. The facts are there, but I felt that the writing style lacked color and depth. There was so little detail, that much of the book felt like it was a plot summary of another book. Most conversations and events were boiled down to a couple of sentences about the topic, with few literary embellishments. This style covered the material efficiently which does allow the reader to "get it over with" quickly, which is a benefit if your only goal is to read this book as a school requirement. If you are reading for enjoyment though, a little more descriptivness might improve the story. There were some descriptions of cultural tensions, but on the whole, the lives of the characters were unremarkable with the normal ups and down of a lifetime of relationships.
Atwood's strengths are her mesmerizing use of language, metaphor, and imagery. She is one of the greatest word people of our generation. Usually, her characters have amazing and interesting psychological depth that you can immerse yourself into. Her stories, while engaging, are secondary to her style. "Oryx and Crake", and "Handmaid's Tale", are examples of her best work. "Year of the Flood," is not. The plot wrapped up many of the loose ends in O&C, but Atwood's poetic artistry was missing from her writing style. O&C was literature; YotF was a plot, and not a great one at that. There was some poetry in the songs, but the campfire/folk music style was more annoying than enriching. If you are an Atwood fan, you should probably read it, so that you can say that you did. If you haven't read her, try one of her other books before judging her.
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