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.
©2009 Margaret Atwood; (P)2009 Random House
I abandoned this book because the story was super confusing (jumped all over the place) and the narrators (one of them anyway) had a grating voice. It was too new-agey or like a hallmark commercial. Saccharine. Also, there were several terrible folk songs included--I guess the paper book had song lyrics or something--but the songs themselves were really bad.
The book might be good on paper, but this rendition was not.
Not an easy listen for me. This futuristic tale that unravels very slowly through the dialogue of a couple main characters is hard to follow. It jumps from present to past and there are only a couple characters you get to know as they try to survive in the post-apocolytic world. It's basic survival in a world gone biologically wrong - but alas the Gardeners are prevailing (or granola's as they are called today). Bleak, lonely, desolate - no real character development and the only love expressed is by the woman, the men are all loveless. Adam One's sermonizing and following hymns become pedantic, what was the point? Where would she have us go from there?? It seemed very incomplete, underdeveloped. Not her best work.
If you are an atheist you will not enjoy this audiobook very much. I expected religious undertones but it's mostly religious. Also there is singing in it, which detracts from the book. It's a shame, really, because it could have been much better. I would have given it 3 stars if not for the singing parts. I become part of the story and when there is music or sining in the narration it pulls me out.
This book is a sequel to Oryx and Crake, and needs to be read as such - don't read it first. Atwood expands the world of that first book, giving us a glimpse of events just beyond the horizon of the original plot. The book is heavy on character, light on plotting, yet knowing the first book helps create suspense for the coming "flood." The interstitial songs recorded to live music started out being disruptive, but after time they add a lot of depth. The book lingers a bit too long, perhaps, on tangential topics, but on the whole creates a really vivid world. Read this book if you like dystopian settings, apocalyptic stories, and issues about what man's role in his world should really be.
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.
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.
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