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The Year of the Flood
Cover of The Year of the Flood
The Year of the Flood
MaddAddam Trilogy, Book 2
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NATIONAL BESTSELLER From the bestselling author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments—the second book of the internationally celebrated MaddAddam trilogy, set in the visionary world of Oryx and Crake, is at once a moving tale of lasting friendship and a landmark work of speculative fiction.
The long-feared waterless flood has occurred, altering Earth as we know it and obliterating most human life. Among the survivors are Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, who is barricaded inside a luxurious spa. Amid shadowy, corrupt ruling powers and new, gene-spliced life forms, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move, but they can't stay locked away.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER From the bestselling author of The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments—the second book of the internationally celebrated MaddAddam trilogy, set in the visionary world of Oryx and Crake, is at once a moving tale of lasting friendship and a landmark work of speculative fiction.
The long-feared waterless flood has occurred, altering Earth as we know it and obliterating most human life. Among the survivors are Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, who is barricaded inside a luxurious spa. Amid shadowy, corrupt ruling powers and new, gene-spliced life forms, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move, but they can't stay locked away.
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  • Chapter One 1Toby. Year Twenty-five,  the Year of the Flood.

    In the early morning Toby climbs up to the rooftop to watch the sunrise. She uses a mop handle for balance: the elevator stopped working some time ago and the back stairs are slick with damp, so if she slips and topples there won't be anyone to pick her up. As the first heat hits, mist rises from among the swathe of trees between her and the derelict city. The air smells faintly of burning, a smell of caramel and tar and rancid barbecues, and the ashy but greasy smell of a garbage-dump fire after it's been raining. The abandoned towers in the distance are like the coral of an ancient reef—bleached and colourless, devoid of life. There still is life, however. Birds chirp; sparrows, they must be. Their small voices are clear and sharp, nails on glass: there's no longer any sound of traffic to drown them out. Do they notice that quietness, the absence of motors? If so, are they happier? Toby has no idea. Unlike some of the other Gardeners—the more wild-eyed or possibly overdosed ones—she has never been under the illusion that she can converse with birds. The sun brightens in the east, reddening the blue-grey haze that marks the distant ocean. The vultures roosting on hydro poles fan out their wings to dry them, opening themselves like black umbrellas. One and then another lifts off on the thermals and spirals upwards. If they plummet suddenly, it means they've spotted carrion. Vultures are our friends, the Gardeners used to teach. They purify the earth. They are God's necessary dark Angels of bodily dissolution. Imagine how terrible it would be if there were no death!Do I still believe this? Toby wonders. Everything is different up close.

    The rooftop has some planters, their ornamental running wild; it has a few fake-wood benches. It used to have a sun canopy for cocktail hour, but that's been blown away. Toby sits on one of the benches to survey the grounds. She lifts her binoculars, scanning from left to right. The driveway, with its lumirose borders, untidy now as as frayed hairbrushes, their purple glow fading in the strengthening light. The western entrance, done in pink adobe-style solarskin, the snarl of tangled cars outside the gate. The flowerbeds, choked with sow thistle and burdock, enormous aqua kudzu moths fluttering above them. The fountains, their scallop-shell basins filled with stagnant rainwater. The parking lot with a pink golf cart and two pink AnooYoo minibuses, each with its winking-eye logo. There's a fourth minibus further along the drive, crashed into a tree: there used to be an arm hanging out of the window, but it's gone now.The wide lawns have grown up, tall weeds. There are low irregular mounds beneath the milkweed and fleabane and sorrel, with here and there a swatch of fabric, a glint of bone. That's where the people fell, the ones who'd been running or staggering across the lawn. Toby had watched from the roof, crouched behind one of the planters, but she hadn't watched for long. Some of those people had called for help, as if they'd known she was there. But how could she have helped? The swimming pool has a mottled blanket of algae. Already there are frogs. The herons and the egrets and the peagrets hunt them, at the shallow end. For a while Toby tried to scoop out the small animals that had blundered in and drowned. The luminous green rabbits, the rats, the rakunks, with their striped tails and racoon bandit masks. But now she leaves them alone. Maybe they'll attract fish, somehow.Is she thinking of eating these future fish? Surely not. Surely not yet.She turns to the dark encircling wall of trees and vines and fronds and shrubby undergrowth, probing it with her binoculars. It's...
About the Author-
  • Margaret Atwood is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry and critical essays. Her novels include Cat’s Eye, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, and the MaddAddam trilogy. Her 1985 classic, The Handmaid’s Tale, was followed in 2019 by a sequel, The Testaments, which was a global number one bestseller and won the Booker Prize. In 2020 she published Dearly, her first collection of poetry for a decade.
     
    Atwood has won numerous awards including the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Imagination in Service to Society, the Franz Kafka Prize, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. In 2019 she was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for services to literature. She has also worked as a cartoonist, illustrator, librettist, playwright and puppeteer. She lives in Toronto, Canada.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 20, 2009
    Signature

    Reviewed by
    Marcel Theroux
    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.
    Marcel Theroux's most recent novel,
    Far North, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in June.

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2009
    Atwood returns to the post-apocalyptic world she imagined in Oryx and Crake (2003, etc.).

    In the futuristic year Twenty-Five, the world is run by corporations; genetic experiments include splicing animals like lions and lambs; and the environment is increasingly a wasteland. When the viral"waterless flood," long predicted by Adam One of a religious/environmentalist cult called The Gardeners, decimates the world's human population, there are only a few survivors. At the AnooYoo spa, which she has been managing under a pseudonym to hide from a psychopathic sexual stalker, Toby stays alive using the skills she learned as a longtime Gardener, conserving, foraging and hunting when necessary. Across the city, sex worker Ren survives because she happened to be locked in an isolation room at the Scales and Tales strip club when the virus hit. As Ren and Toby each wonder whether she is the only human left alive, both relive the last 15 years, which shaped their individual fates and led to the apocalypse. Ren knew Toby as one of the Eves, female leaders of The Gardeners, with whom she lived as a child while her mother was having an affair with mysterious renegade member Zeb. Eventually Ren and her mother returned to the HelthWyzer Compound; there teenage Ren fell in love and had her heart broken by Jimmy, protagonist of Oryx and Crake. Ren's best friend Amanda, a street kid adopted by The Gardeners, has also survived. She makes her way to Ren, the two join up with members of a splinter group of Gardeners headed by Zeb, and they all head toward AnooYoo. Unfortunately, not only Gardeners have survived. The women confront evil as well as a demented version of perfection developed by Jimmy's crazed-genius friend Crake. Atwood wears her politics on her sleeve, but she doesn't shy away from showing the Gardeners' tendency toward self-righteous foolishness.

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

    (COPYRIGHT (2009) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from August 15, 2009
    Never one to rest on her laurels, famed Canadian author Atwood redeems the word "sequel" with this brilliant return to the nightmarish future first envisioned in "Oryx and Crake". Contrary to expectations, the waterless flood, a biological disaster predicted by a fringe religious group, actually arrives. In its wake, the survivors must rely on their wits to get by, all the while reflecting on what went wrong. Atwood wins major style points here for her framing device, the liturgical year of the God's Gardeners sect. Readers who enjoy suspense will also appreciate the story's shifting viewpoint and nonlinear time line, which result in the gradual revelation of key events and character relationships. Atwood's heroines seem uniformly grim and hollow, but one can hardly expect cheerfulness in the face of the apocalypse, and the hardships of their lives both pre- and postflood are moving and disturbing. VERDICT 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. [See Prepub Alert, "LJ" 6/1/09.]Leigh Anne Vrabel, Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh

    Copyright 2009 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from July 1, 2009
    Toby goes up on the roof to survey the still and empty city. Birds are singing, but have any other humans survived the Waterless Flood, a swift and devastating pandemic? Ren, a younger woman alone in another abandoned building, wonders the same thing. Atwood returns to the decimated world she first explored in Oryx and Crake (2003), paralleling and intersecting the story line. Toby and Ren had found sanctuary among the Gods Gardeners, a resistance group that grows their own food and medicinal plants and keeps bees, while perched precariously on the ragged edge of a tyrannical corporate empire dispensing synthetic food, deliberately induced illnesses, and dubious hybrid creatures, such as the liobamhalf-lion, half-lamb. Atwoods villains are despicable, while her heroes are thorny, resilient, and contemplative, and their adventures hair-raising. Add to that Atwoods playfully brilliant infusion of scientific knowledge and ecological and ethical insights into the Gardners lively theology. The holiness of nature is celebrated and the precepts of sustainable living taught in funny and righteous hymns, while saint days honor Rachel Carson, Jacques Cousteau, and Dian Fossey. Atwoods mischievous, suspenseful, and sagacious dystopian novel follows the trajectory of current environmental debacles to a shattering possible conclusion with passionate concern and arch humor.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2009, American Library Association.)

  • Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "[Written with] energy, inventiveness, and narrative panache. . . . A gripping and visceral book that showcases [Atwood's] pure storytelling talents."
  • Elle "[The Year of the Flood] shows the Nobel Prize-worthy Atwood . . . at the pinnacle of her prodigious creative powers."
  • The Washington Post Book World "A heart-pounding thriller."
  • Kansas City Star "Leave it to Atwood to find humor in a post-apocalyptic world as she covertly, and brilliantly, addresses questions of how we need to live on an imperiled planet."
  • O, the Oprah Magazine "Atwood renders this civilization and these two lives within it with tenderness and insight, a healthy dread, and a guarded humor."
  • Anthony Doerr, Orion Magazine "Funny. . . . Entertaining. . . . You fall into her intensely inventive world and find yourself carried happily along."
  • The New York Review of Books "Engrossing and suspenseful."
  • The Kansas City Star "Riveting. . . . Cunning, droll. . . . The intensity of her apocalyptic fantasy doesn't prevent Atwood from giving free rein to her peppery and inventive humor. . . . So she courts us with her puckish wit, holds us spellbound with suspense, and then confronts us with harrowing and tragic scenarios."
  • Barnes & Noble Review "Atwood's language remains as juicy and colorful as ever. . . . [She] allows her imagination to roam rudely, widely, and vigorously where lesser minds fear to tread."
  • Chicago Tribune "Vintage Atwood: It's artfully edgy, casting a pitiless eye on her fellow creatures. . . . A powerful indictment of the way human beings have long treated the planet and themselves. . . . The book takes big risks."
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MaddAddam Trilogy, Book 2
Margaret Atwood
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