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The Year of the Flood

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The Year of the Flood Cover

ISBN13: 9780385528771
ISBN10: 0385528779
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Awards

The Rooster 2010 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee

Staff Pick

A companion novel to Atwood's magnificent Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood conveys a very different perspective of the coming dystopian catastrophe. Darkly funny, incredibly believable, and surprisingly hopeful, Atwood's new novel is one of her very best.
Recommended by Jill Owens, Powells.com

Margaret Atwood's haunting companion to Oryx and Crake will leave you hungry for another book in this "speculative fiction" universe. Written in the alternating voices of young and initially naive Ren and nostalgic but wounded Toby, the novel explores themes of ecology, disaster, relationships, and religion in a world that feels eerily familiar. Unlike Oryx and Crake, this story is told solely from the perspective of women. Atwood's fascinating prose marvelously explores social issues and human nature.
Recommended by Michelle M, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"Is it possible to prevent a planet-scale ecocatastrophe? What would the consequences of preventing such an event be? Would those consequences be acceptable? Iconic Canadian author Margaret Atwood has once again written about a distressingly near future in which mass murder may be the best way to save the world." Nisi Shawl, Ms. Magazine (read the entire Ms. Magazine review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"In her 2002 speculative novel, Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood depicted a dystopic planet tumbling toward apocalypse. The world she envisaged was in the throes of catastrophic climate change, its wealthy inhabitants dwelling in sterile secure compounds, its poor ones in the dangerous 'pleeblands' of decaying inner cities. Mass extinctions had taken place, while genetic experiments had populated the planet with strange new breeds of animal: liobams, Mo'Hairs, rakunks. At the end of the book, we left its central character, Jimmy, in the aftermath of a devastating man-made plague, as he wondered whether to befriend or attack a ragged band of strangers. The novel seemed complete, closing on a moment of suspense, as though Atwood was content simply to hint at the direction life would now take. In her profoundly imagined new book, The Year of the Flood, she revisits that same world and its catastrophe. Like Oryx and Crake, Year of the Flood begins just after the catastrophe and then tracks back in time over the corrupt and degenerate world that preceded it. But while the first novel focused on the privileged elite in the compounds and the morally bankrupt corporations, The Year of the Flood depicts more of the world of the pleebs, an edgy no-man's land inhabited by criminals, sex workers, dropouts and the few individuals who are trying to resist the grip of the corporations.The novel centers on the lives of Ren and Toby, female members of a fundamentalist sect of Christian environmentalists, the God's Gardeners. Led by the charismatic Adam One, whose sermons and eco-hymns punctuate the narrative, the God's Gardeners are preparing for life after the prophesied Waterless Flood. Atwood plays some of their religion for laughs: their hymns have a comically bouncing, churchy rhythm, and we learn that both Ren and Toby have been drawn toward the sect for nonreligious reasons. Yet the gentleness and benignity of the Gardeners is a source of hope as well as humor. As absurd as some of their beliefs appear, Atwood seems to be suggesting that they're a better option than the naked materialism of the corporations.This is a gutsy and expansive novel, rich with ideas and conceits, but overall it's more optimistic than Oryx and Crake. Its characters have a compassion and energy lacking in Jimmy, the wounded and floating lothario at the previous novel's center.Each novel can be enjoyed independently of the other, but what's perhaps most impressive is the degree of connection between them. Together, they form halves of a single epic. Characters intersect. Plots overlap. Even the tiniest details tessellate into an intricate whole. In the final pages, we catch up with Jimmy once more, as he waits to encounter the strangers. This time around, Atwood commits herself to a dramatic and hopeful denouement that's in keeping with this novel's spirit of redemption.

Signature Reviewe by Marcel Theroux. Marcel Theroux's most recent novel, Far North, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in June." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Atwood's mischievous, suspenseful, and sagacious dystopian novel follows the trajectory of current environmental debacles to a shattering possible conclusion with passionate concern and arch humor." Booklist (Starred Review)

Review:

"Another stimulating dystopia from this always-provocative author, whose complex, deeply involving characters inhabit a bizarre yet frighteningly believable future." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Another win for Atwood, this dystopian fantasy belongs in the hands of every highbrow sf aficionado and anyone else who claims to possess a social conscience." Library Journal

Synopsis:

The long-awaited new novel from the author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin, The Year of the Flood is a dystopic masterpiece and a testament to Atwood's visionary power.

About the Author

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than thirty books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Her novels include The Edible Woman, Surfacing, The Handmaid's Tale, Cat's Eye, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace and the winner of the Booker Prize, The Blind Assassin. Her work is acclaimed internationally and has been translated into thirty-three languages. She is the recipient of many literary awards and honors from various countries, including Britain, Italy, France, Sweden, and Norway, as well as Canada and the United States. Margaret Atwood lives in Toronto with writer Graeme Gibson.

Interview

The Powells.com Interview with Margaret Atwood

Jill Owens: How did you decide to go back to the world of Oryx and Crake for The Year of the Flood?

Margaret Atwood: There are a couple of answers to that. Number one, everybody was asking me what happened right after the end of Oryx and Crake. Since I didn't know, I had to write another book in order to find out.
Number two, a lot of people, having asked me for years, "How come you write so much from the point of view of women?" since I wrote it from the point of view of a man, now asked, "Why did you write it from the point of view of a man?" [Laughter] So you can't win that one.
I thought, All right, what would it be like, if it were from the point of view of women? Also, what would it be like if we went into the world that is something Jimmy only sees out a train window? In other words, the unprotected urban space, unlike his protected urban space. What would that be like? And also, what would the God's Gardeners, who appear in the margins of Oryx and Crake, look like up close? What would that religion actually be like?
All of those things were pretty interesting to me, and there were a couple of characters I was interested in as well, notably Amanda, who was in Oryx and Crake.

Jill: Adapting and creating the theology for the Gardeners must have been fun, I would think.

Atwood: It was fun, but you know, it's also a trend. There is already with us today a Green Bible. It's got tasteful linen covers, ecologically correct paper, an introduction by Archbishop Tutu, and the green parts are in green. I think that certain wings of Christianity are returning to their roots, and those roots were more biophilic than they became in the seventeenth century, when a mechanistic view was taken of animal life.
Strangely enough, it was Charles Darwin who bucked that trend, in his work on animal emotions. The mechanistic view had it that animals were just automatons. They didn't really have emotional lives; they just had knee-jerk reactions and they were like machines. He denied that. He said they have emotions that are very similar to our emotions. By animals, he didn't mean clams. He meant mammals.

Jill: I like Adam One's soft spot for sharks.

Atwood: [Laughter] You have to include them. They are alpha predators, and removing them does have a horrible effect on the fish life in the oceans.

(read more of Jill's interview with Margaret Atwood)

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 10 comments:

The Lost Entwife, August 26, 2013 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
A good novel dealing with a theme of dystopia should have elements of truth that make what the reader is experiencing in the pages something that is not that far out of reach. Forget about the exaggerations and complicated science that the common reader won't understand - instead, speak to something that they know. Incorporate hymns, familiar passages of religious text, and expand on the desires of people who are living in the real world, here and now.

Then twist it all into something so scary it shocks that same reader into thinking, "Oh my ... this COULD happen."

That's good dystopia. And Margaret Atwood captures all of that perfectly in The Year of the Flood, a follow-up companion novel to her brilliant Oryx and Crake. Switching gear from Snowman-Jimmy and the Crakers, Atwood moves to study the lives of God's Gardeners, a cultish group of people who are clinging to the organic, natural way of life.

I really struggled at times with this book because I felt as if the God's Gardeners should be people I should be afraid of - a cult that twists and perverts religion much like those portrayed in the news today. But yet, I could not disagree with their fundamental beliefs because I hated what was happening in the world around them and its similarities to our world today. And that inner struggle as I read is what made me love this book so much. I had to think about what it was I disliked, what made me uncomfortable, and what exactly I agreed with and then pinpoint where things went wrong in the book and where they went right.

And that, folks, is why Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors. I love reading a book that makes me work and, when I finish, leaves me mentally exhausted.

The conclusion to this trilogy is due out soon, so I re-read Oryx and Crake and read The Year of the Flood for the first time in preparation for the release of MaddAddam. You can bet I am looking forward to the conclusion and dreading it at the same time because what else could I look forward to with as much eager anticipation and dread!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
kstrong_74, January 2, 2011 (view all comments by kstrong_74)
I'm not the type of person who can join a book club. I don't enjoy enough books, or read often enough to keep up. However, if Margaret Atwood were to continuously write the Oryx and Crake series I would start a club myself. The Year of the Flood is a fabulous follow-up to Oryx and Crake. I grabbed this book the second I saw it on the book shelf, and read it within days.
Seeing the characters from a different point of view only made the story more believable and kept me longing for more.
I cannot wait until book #3 comes out.
If you have not started this series, and are a fan of Handmaids Tale, grab both Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood now. You will not be disappointed.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
Shoshana, May 31, 2010 (view all comments by Shoshana)
A dystopian "sidequel" to Oryx and Crake; that is, it recounts others' lives and actions that are parallel to (or intersect with) those of Snowman and Crake. While not as lyrical as the first book, it's still engaging, with vivid descriptions and lively characters. It takes the reader to the point at which Oryx and Crake ended, and a little farther. Although I found Snowman to be a frightened, passive schmuck in the first book, this was important to the joke of the narrative, to the extent that the climax could be a joke. Here, Snowman seems simply pathetic and confused, though arguably this is due to his delirium. The protagonists' stories are more intimate but seem less important and I found the book overall to be less engaging. This troubles me given that the first book was the men's experiences, while this one was the women's. Overall, the narrative seemed to fill in more details rather than add new, significant plot elements.

Reviews by Jeanette Winterson and Ursula Le Guin that were published in major newspapers included surprisingly big errors or misunderstandings of Atwood's plots. If these were poor writers or reviewers not familiar with speculative fiction I'd leave it alone, but with such luminaries behind the misrepresentations, I was troubled.
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(4 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 10 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385528771
Author:
Atwood, Margaret
Publisher:
Nan A. Talese
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Science fiction
Subject:
Dystopias
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090931
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
448
Dimensions:
9.38x6.64x1.44 in. 1.63 lbs.

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Product details 448 pages Nan A. Talese - English 9780385528771 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

A companion novel to Atwood's magnificent Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood conveys a very different perspective of the coming dystopian catastrophe. Darkly funny, incredibly believable, and surprisingly hopeful, Atwood's new novel is one of her very best.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Margaret Atwood's haunting companion to Oryx and Crake will leave you hungry for another book in this "speculative fiction" universe. Written in the alternating voices of young and initially naive Ren and nostalgic but wounded Toby, the novel explores themes of ecology, disaster, relationships, and religion in a world that feels eerily familiar. Unlike Oryx and Crake, this story is told solely from the perspective of women. Atwood's fascinating prose marvelously explores social issues and human nature.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In her 2002 speculative novel, Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood depicted a dystopic planet tumbling toward apocalypse. The world she envisaged was in the throes of catastrophic climate change, its wealthy inhabitants dwelling in sterile secure compounds, its poor ones in the dangerous 'pleeblands' of decaying inner cities. Mass extinctions had taken place, while genetic experiments had populated the planet with strange new breeds of animal: liobams, Mo'Hairs, rakunks. At the end of the book, we left its central character, Jimmy, in the aftermath of a devastating man-made plague, as he wondered whether to befriend or attack a ragged band of strangers. The novel seemed complete, closing on a moment of suspense, as though Atwood was content simply to hint at the direction life would now take. In her profoundly imagined new book, The Year of the Flood, she revisits that same world and its catastrophe. Like Oryx and Crake, Year of the Flood begins just after the catastrophe and then tracks back in time over the corrupt and degenerate world that preceded it. But while the first novel focused on the privileged elite in the compounds and the morally bankrupt corporations, The Year of the Flood depicts more of the world of the pleebs, an edgy no-man's land inhabited by criminals, sex workers, dropouts and the few individuals who are trying to resist the grip of the corporations.The novel centers on the lives of Ren and Toby, female members of a fundamentalist sect of Christian environmentalists, the God's Gardeners. Led by the charismatic Adam One, whose sermons and eco-hymns punctuate the narrative, the God's Gardeners are preparing for life after the prophesied Waterless Flood. Atwood plays some of their religion for laughs: their hymns have a comically bouncing, churchy rhythm, and we learn that both Ren and Toby have been drawn toward the sect for nonreligious reasons. Yet the gentleness and benignity of the Gardeners is a source of hope as well as humor. As absurd as some of their beliefs appear, Atwood seems to be suggesting that they're a better option than the naked materialism of the corporations.This is a gutsy and expansive novel, rich with ideas and conceits, but overall it's more optimistic than Oryx and Crake. Its characters have a compassion and energy lacking in Jimmy, the wounded and floating lothario at the previous novel's center.Each novel can be enjoyed independently of the other, but what's perhaps most impressive is the degree of connection between them. Together, they form halves of a single epic. Characters intersect. Plots overlap. Even the tiniest details tessellate into an intricate whole. In the final pages, we catch up with Jimmy once more, as he waits to encounter the strangers. This time around, Atwood commits herself to a dramatic and hopeful denouement that's in keeping with this novel's spirit of redemption.

Signature Reviewe by Marcel Theroux. Marcel Theroux's most recent novel, Far North, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in June." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

"Review A Day" by , "Is it possible to prevent a planet-scale ecocatastrophe? What would the consequences of preventing such an event be? Would those consequences be acceptable? Iconic Canadian author Margaret Atwood has once again written about a distressingly near future in which mass murder may be the best way to save the world." (read the entire Ms. Magazine review)
"Review" by , "Atwood's mischievous, suspenseful, and sagacious dystopian novel follows the trajectory of current environmental debacles to a shattering possible conclusion with passionate concern and arch humor."
"Review" by , "Another stimulating dystopia from this always-provocative author, whose complex, deeply involving characters inhabit a bizarre yet frighteningly believable future."
"Review" by , "Another win for Atwood, this dystopian fantasy belongs in the hands of every highbrow sf aficionado and anyone else who claims to possess a social conscience."
"Synopsis" by , The long-awaited new novel from the author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin, The Year of the Flood is a dystopic masterpiece and a testament to Atwood's visionary power.
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