Set in the dystopian future of Atwood's "Oryx and Crake" vision, "The Year of the Flood" is sweeping, imaginative and compelling - all the things that I've grown to expect from Atwood's fiction.
In this second book in the MadAddam trilogy, we get another look at the apocalyptic future from "Oryx and Crake." This time we hear the story from Toby and Ren, two survivors of the waterless flood.
Most of human life has been obliterated. Those who are left struggle to survive in a harsh, barely-habitable environment. Against all odds, both women have survived on their own so far. Toby is trapped inside a luxurious spa and running out of food quickly. Ren is trapped in a quarantine chamber of a high-end sex club and is also running out of food quickly. Neither one has very good options - stay where they are alone and die, or venture out and try to find somewhere new and possibly die. The gene-spliced animals run wild and without proper weapons, a human won't make it far.
The story is narrated by both women, alternately. They tell of their life and how they ended up where they are. Toby is wise and strong. Ren is gullible and weak. But they are both alive and that's all that matters in this new world. How they will continue to survive is unknown to both.
Atwood takes us to a place so unthinkable, but yet very much like our own world. Before the waterless flood the world is very much like our present, but things started to fall apart. It started with gene splicing and disease cures, but with each technological advancement there are unintended consequences until humankind ends up destroying itself.
As dark as Atwood's vision is, she manages to weave it with humor and satire. Her characters are witty and memorable. Both voices are unique and compelling.
With "The Year of the Flood" Margaret Atwood has managed to write a suspenseful, dark, humorous, apocalyptic tale - not an easy accomplishment. She has again proven herself to be a rare writer in her time. She can build entire worlds within her mind but never lose her elegant prose conveying them to the reader.
In "The Year of the Flood," Atwood has given us the gift of her beautiful writing and the warning of her dark vision for our future. What more could a reader ask for?