During the first months of Covid19 pandemic I was so determined to not read books about pandemies … we are living one, why also read about it? But then I registered for a book club with Margaret Atwood about Oryx and Crake, and I read the story as preparation for the event (see here more about my experience with online events with writers). Little did I know that it featured a pandemic … And once I started reading the MaddAddam trilogy, there was no turning back!

Margaret Atwood – such a joyful presence during the online event!

The Year of the Flood in a nutshell

Let’s start with the basics – The Year of the Flood is the second book of the MaddAddam trilogy. The first book of the series is Oryx and Crake (my review).

The Year of the Flood focuses on a group called the God’s Gardeners. They are a peaceful self-sustaining community, with strong focus on environmental topics, eating vegetarian only and living without any technology. Their story is depicted through the eyes of Ren and Toby, two women who survived the Waterless Flood – the pandemic that wiped out most of humanity.

While the events in The Year of the Flood happen at the same chronological time as the events in Oryx and Crake, it can be seen as a continuation of the first book from the readers’ perspective. The Year of the Flood “solves” the cliff hanger of the first book, and it also fills some of the gaps from Oryx and Crake. Atwood calls it “simultanial” – not a prequel, not a sequel (NPR, 2020).

Books & flowers ❤

Overall impression

I loved reading this book, a lot more than expected! The first book of the trilogy was good, but the second book … oh my, it was a lot better! On one hand I was more familiar with universe (having the knowledge of the first book), so it was easier to get immersed in the story. On the other hand, the writing style was different – I think Oryx and Crake was more reflective and sad, while The Year of the Flood was more action-packed. Definitely my cup of tea!

When it comes to the story per se, I liked how the two perspectives of Ren and Toby complemented each other. They are two very different women with different experiences and life stories, so the reader gets insightful perspectives into the God’s Gardeners community. Also many missing puzzle pieces are revealed, offering a sense of satisfaction while reading the story.

God’s Gardeners – the doomsday cult

The God’s Gardeners group is the overarching collective character of the book. Led by Adam One, they have a “management board” of Adams and Eves (Adam Two, Eve Eleven, and so on) that coordinate ares of the community. For example, Eve Six is responsible for Bees and Mushrooms. They have hymns, saints (incl. environmentalists and healthy food advocates), rules – all that is needed for a comprehensive religious community.

What impressed me most is how well Atwood embedded the whole concept in the narrative structure. The chapters start with a sermon by Adam One, followed by a hymn dedicated to the day’s celebration. And then the story per-se continues. It’s a narrative routine that immerses the reader deep in the story, along with the adrenaline-rushing happenings.

God’s Gardeners. Illustration by Evan Munday (source: Alternatives Journal.ca)

Wrap-up

I fully recommend reading the MaddAddam trilogy, based on my experience so far with Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood. While Oryx and Crake is a cautionary tale about genetic engineering, The Year of the Flood is more about survival during a catastrophe.

Let me know if you also read the MaddAddam trilogy! I am now reading the last book of the series – MaddAddam – so exciting to see how the saga will end!

‘Till next time … happy reading!

Georgiana


PS: if you’re interested to read more about MaddAddam, check out the article “What does it mean to be human? Thoughts on Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy” by Ellie Hopgood.

8 thoughts on “I wasn’t expecting to enjoy so much reading about a pandemic while living one: The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (book review)

  1. Yes I finished The Year of the Flood a couple months ago and I was surprised how good it was! I appreciate it being told from the perspective of several woman and how story lines from the first book and between the different women in the story intersected! I have not started the third one yet as I am working on a couple other books right now 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The Year of the Flood is also my favourite of the trilogy! Wow, it must’ve been so interesting to study this book, I feel there are so many things I did not fully understand (just a small example – all the saint names used by Atwood; I looked up some of them, but I am sure that each of them had a special meaning)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As far as I remember, the Gardener’s ‘religion’ fuses elements of science, environmentalism and humanism and their saints are real-life environmentalists, activists and biologists. It’s really interesting to look into their stories, definitely an aspect I haven’t paid enough attention to now that you mention it 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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