Maddaddam- Maragaret Atwood
The cover of my copy of Maddaddam warns that it’s a wild ride, and it’s not wrong. This is the final instalment of the Maddaddam trilogy and my expectations were high. It didn’t disappoint.
The novel follows the ragtag group of God’s gardeners, Painballers, Crakers and Jimmy who have assembled on the beach at the end of The Year of the Flood. At the end of the second book, the Painballers are tied up but not killed, Amanda is traumatised, Jimmy gravely ill and the future of the world looking uncertain. At the start of Maddaddam the brutal Painballers trick the Crakers into releasing them and the group find a new home and start to rebuild their lives, as much as is possible in this post-apocalyptic world. Once again, much of the novel focuses on a character’s backstory, this time the story of Zeb, the former Adam Seven of the God’s Gardeners. We find out about his difficult childhood and his subsequent escape with his brother Adam- and no, it’s no coincidence that his brother is called that.
What I loved about this novel was how flawlessly it tied in with the other two; it’s as though each novel contains several piece of the puzzle, and they all fit together perfectly. There are some surprising revelations (who knew the creator of Scales and Tails, the sex club for which Ren worked, would turn out to be Eve One?) and there are more of Atwood’s fantastic dystopian inventions, such as a sexual online beheading game and the church of PetrOleum, a religious cult based on the worship of oil (not so hard to imagine, is it?). There’s also a lot of humour, much of which derives from the Crakers believing that ‘Fuck’ is a helpful spirit after hearing Jimmy curse.
It was great finding out more about Zeb in Maddaddam, since he’s a character who’s always raised a few questions, and I loved the development of Zeb and Toby’s relationship, although I would have liked to see a little more of the Ren-Crozier and Ren-Jimmy relationships. Ren is seen caring for Jimmy but some interaction from their own perspectives would have been nice- I would have liked to have listened in on a conversation between them and to know what he thought of her. Although Ren and Crozier end up very much a couple, we are made away that Crozier is unfaithful to Ren with Swift Fox, a character you’re pretty much guaranteed to hate. As far as we know, Ren is never made fully aware of his cheating and for all we know he might do it again which is somewhat frustrating, but also reflects a lot of relationships in real life.
The survivors’ main quest in Maddaddam is to destroy the escaped Painballers and find Adam One, the leader of the God’s Gardeners sect. There’s a very touching moment between Zeb and Adam One and an exciting conflict, but just as you think things are resolved, Atwood has to stick the knife in one more time. The book’s epilogue, quite frankly, annoyed me. Two characters die (I won’t say which ones) in a rather anticlimactic sort of way that also leaves you with some unanswered questions. If these characters had died in the main conflict, I would have been sad, but accepting. It happens. But why seemingly resolve everything only to quickly pen an unsatisfactory ending for the characters? Yeah yeah, it’s probably a more accurate reflection of what living in a post-apocalyptic world would be like: no happily ever afters and you’d never be truly safe- BUT STILL.
This annoying epilogue aside, however, Maddaddam is a fitting end to the trilogy and it certainly didn’t fall flat. The trilogy has been incredible and an absolute pleasure to read, and I’m sad it’s over. Still, there’s the HBO series to look forward to, although I personally think that the structure of the books mean they’d work much better as films. With a film series, you could turn each novel into a film and include the backstories no problem, but I can’t see how that’s going to work with a TV series. So much of the books are set in the past and the backstories are really quite separate, so it’ll be interesting to see how HBO will handle that. Still, Margaret Atwood herself is one of the writers so I’m told, so things look promising!
Have YOU read Maddaddam? What did you think? Did you like the ending? Please leave your comments!