Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
At a book-signing of Ms. Atwood's I grabbed two books: The Blind Assassin and The Year of the Flood. I started Assassin first which is a complex story in a story in a story. About half way through, I gave up--something that almost never happens. I liked the fantasy story buried in the middle, but the past and present of the central character, although written beautifully, just didn't move. Please note, Assassin won the Booker Prize.
Reluctant to start The Year of the Flood, I let it sit around until last Saturday. I finished it yesterday (Tuesday). It was fantastic! If you like Stephenie Meyer's The Host and Stephen King's The Stand, you will enjoy this book. It centers around a green religious sect in the (not-so-distant?) future before and after a plague--the waterless flood--wipes the planet free of man.
This book is rich in two ways: setting and plot. There's plenty of suspense: will Ren escape her isolation chamber before she runs out of food? What horrible thing happened to kill all humans pretty-much instantaneously? But my favorite part is the setting. Things in Atwood's future poke fun of what we have and what we've done in the here and now. Bimplants for woman. Secret-burgers made of stray pets and possibly assassinated humans. Happicupachino. The greenies or Gardeners eschew cell phones, grow mushrooms in the basements of abandoned buildings, and sing hymns about "Saint" Dian Fossey. There's a delicious moment when we discover (slight spoiler here) that the leaders, known as Adams and Eves, secretly use laptops in a hidden chamber, bringing to mind Animal Farm.
The only part I question, as a writer, is how so many of the main characters survive a plague when 99.9 percent of humanity is (melted) toast. However, you don't pull on Superman's cape and you shouldn't nit-pick with a writing legend. Now I've got to get my hands on Oryx and Crake--it features some of the same characters--glee!