I suddenly realized I'm meeting the eccentric Margaret Atwood on Wednesday (and by meeting, I mean going to a reading and book signing by her and thus may have a pen's brush with greatness. Seeing Bob Dylan? Pretty great. Going to Lollapalooza? Nifty. Meeting Margaret Atwood? I'm pretty much pissing my pants. I embraced my nerdom long ago).
Of course, she'll be talking about MaddAddam, you know, that book I haven't read. You know, the end of that trilogy that I started... but swore off after the first book.
So I did that thing I'd learned how to do so well in Grad School: getting through both books at all costs. In 5 days. With family gatherings and work.
Year of the Flood: 431 pages? That's about 5 hours. Easy to pack away in a 24 hour period, as well as work and sleep and eat and run errands, right?
I did it. And I have that post-book adrenaline rush. So my thoughts on YOTF?
Atwood creates a bleak society. Initially being quite critical of the religious societies that proliferate this book, she reluctantly admits that the cults have one thing that the technologically advanced society (the official "bad guys" of the book) cannot offer: a sense of humanity. Specifically, the religious society (both before and after the schism) provides a sense of connection, and desire to HELP one another.
Atwood's fascination with organized religious proliferates many of her novels, but usually as an outsider with a sense of admiration and yet cynicism. It's a thread that gets picked up, but is never resolved, and of course that is the same in YOTF. Though a piece of speculative fiction, this novel (and in fact many of Atwood's, for this reason among others) is a reaction to the modernization and mechanization of the Victorian era and the turn of the century: specifically Howards End with it's invocation to "Only Connect..."
After the predominantly male voiced, Oryx and Crake, portraying two men who repeatedly fail to connect, there is more satisfaction in the connections in this novel. Whether those will be any use of productivity? We'll find out in MaddAddam (I hope).