Posted by: Jeanie F | January 21, 2010

The Year of the Flood

I took everyone’s advice and finished my book club book – The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. I’m an Atwood fan, and looked forward to reading this futuristic view of a dystopian society. Although I don’t usually care for science fiction, Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale – not really science fiction, but certainly futuristic – is an all-time favorite of mine. I picked up Year of the Flood hoping to find something similar.

For anyone who read Oryx and Crake (which I did not), you’ll find some familiar characters as Oryx, Crake, and Amanda Payne, to name a few, show up here. However, the point of view differs as Flood focuses on an “eco-religious” group known as God’s Gardeners. The main characters are Ren, who enters the sect as a young girl, and Toby, who is rescued by them as a young adult. The different perspectives that these characters bring to the story give us different ways of understanding the group and it’s leaders, particularly “Adam One,” the acknowledged head of the group.

The story is a fairly straightforward look at how this group attempts to withstand the disintegrating society of the “Pleeblands” (average citizens) and the “CorpSeCorps” (Corporate Security) that governs this dystopian world. It is a world rife with manufactured “food,” genetically spliced animals, and other completely conceivable changes to the natural order, with an ultimately bleak view of our future. There is suspense, friendship and affection, hymns, and the occasional sermon from Adam One to take us to an ultimate resolution of sorts.

I can’t say that I loved this book, although I loved parts of it. Atwood is always wonderful in her literary style and eye for detail, and this book is a great example of that. It is obvious that environmentalism is a cause near and dear to her heart. In fact, she has established a website, Year of the, with many resources concerning the environment (and a CD that was produced of the God’s Gardeners hymns).

However, I felt that the heavy emphasis on environmentalism in this novel came at the expense of the storyline. I found many of the futuristic names (“liobamb,” “HelthWyzer,” “the Exfernal World” to name a few) distracting and off-putting. The plot was often dragged down by side stories designed, I believe, to proselytize  about potential dangers to the planet and/or our western culture.

I don’t begrudge  the time I spent reading this – it was interesting and gave me a lot to think about. However, I can’t honestly say that it is a book I will recommend often to friends.

Grade: C


  1. I will definitely be sure to read this. I love Atwood, but I do sort of compare reading her works to being on a roller coaster.

    You are never quite thoroughly enjoying yoursel at the time, but you can’t get off (ie. put the put down), but when you are finished you have this wonderful surge of adremnline that makes you think ‘Wow, that was amazing!’. That is what reading Atwood is like for me.

    I will definitely take this recommendation and add it to my wish list with a link back to you review.

  2. Thanks for directing me to this review! I’ve yet to read this one but I look forward to it.

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