September 28, 2009

The Year of the Flood - Margaret Atwood

It seems like so long since I have been able to whole-heartedly recommend a book, without reservations, that I have almost forgotten how. But here goes - I loved The Year of the Flood.

I am always a bit hit-and-miss with Margaret Atwood - either I love her books or I can't get past the first chapter. Fortunately this book falls into the former category. Right from the first couple of pages, I was drawn into the world that she has created, and it was a book that stayed with me, even when I wasn't reading.

She has created a world in the not-so-distant future where all of the bad things happening in our world today have continued and become worse - global warming, pollution, materialistic culture, privatization and increasing power of corporations, uncontrolled genetic engineering, invasive species, rapid species extinction, and the list could go on. And all of these things are drawn together so that the picture, bleak as it is, is unified and believable. There are certainly lots of lessons for our society to learn from the world that she has created.

The characters were also well drawn and believable - every one has their good points as well as their weaker points, and in typical Atwood fashion, there are some good strong female characters.

This book is being marketed as a "companion" book to Oryx and Crake, which I know that I read shortly after it came out in 2003; but as it is not on my bookshelves, I must have borrowed a library copy. I want to dig it out and read it again, to appreciate how they fit together. And I do hope that she writes a third book in this world - The Year of the Flood has a true Atwoodian ending where you are left not knowing what happens to the characters in the long run (I finished the last sentence, turned the page expecting another chapter, and that was it!), and I do want to know more.

The Year of the Flood is also on the Long List for the Giller Prize - the shortlist is going to be announced next week, and if this book doesn't make the short list, the competition must be pretty stiff indeed!

This book was also read for the Canadian Book Challenge at The Book Mine Set.


John Mutford said...

Atwood's dystopian lit is my favourite. Can't wait to read this one!

Kate said...

I heard her interviewed twice in one week on CBC about this book - I enjoyed Shelagh Roger's interview so much that I went back and listened to it again after reading the book. You can probably still find the podcast on the CBC website.

kiirstin said...

Nice review! I'm also always kind of back and forth on Atwood; I enjoy her poetry and short prose, but often find her books to be not to my taste. But this book sounds so good, and I love what she's done around its release, so I think I'm going to have to try it.

Wanda said...

I'm a big fan of her poetry but I've yet to tackle even one of her novels.

Kate said...

Whereas I, on the other hand, have hardly read any of her poetry. I am really hit-and-miss with her books as I said. Though probably more hits than misses with the ones written in the past 10 or 15 years. And I also enjoy her short stories - I find that she has a knack of drawing you right in from the first sentence. I do have a book of her poetry on the shelf behind me as I type - maybe I should spend some time with it at some point.