I first read this when it came out in 2003, and it is now apparent to me that the story didn't stick with me. Re-reading it now was like reading a book for the first time. Why didn't it stick with me? I honestly don't know. I did enjoy it this time around, but I guess I'll have to wait and see if the story sticks this time!
It was probably made more vivid by the fact that the Year of the Flood is still fairly fresh in my mind. They are being marketed as "companion books", rather than one as a sequel of the other. There is some overlap in characters, and the plot lines converge at the end. The Year of the Food read very easily as a stand-alone book, as I didn't remember the events of Oryx and Crake, however many of the plot points now make more sense, having refreshed my memory now. Apparently there is a third book planned, and they will be marketed as the Maddadam Trilogy - hopefully there will be some resolution at that time, since the first two books left me hanging at the same plot point, and I want to know what happens next! Mind you, that is one of the trademarks of Margaret Atwood's writing - leaving the ending ambiguous for the reader to decide.
I love that she has created a world so complete unto itself. It is in the not-too-distant future (my guess would be 50 to 100 years from now, based on a few references in Oryx and Crake), and it seems like everything going wrong in the world continues to escalate until the disaster point is reached - global warming, consumerism, increasing gap between rich and poor, callousness and indifference towards others. (Blogger bias here - my political views tend to be pretty far to the left, but Margaret Atwood's world view seems to be pretty similar to mine.)
One thing that I had noticed missing in The Year of the Flood was any sort of artistic community, which I found a bit strange since Margaret Atwood herself is a poet and a novelist. (And I don't count the hymns of the God's Gardeners as art - as a church musician, I can honestly say that the best hymns are no better than third-rate poetry, though the odd hymn tune has some marks of musical merit.) This however is somewhat explained in Oryx and Crake, where the arts are devalued by society as having no commercial value therefore they are worthless. You do sometimes see that attitude in our world today, but so far the artistic community has fought back. I find the thought of a world with no music, no artwork, no literature, to be as scary as the other bleak prospects proposed in these books.
I am looking forward to the final book in this trilogy, and I hope that she doesn't make us wait another 6 years for it to appear!