Maddaddam

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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!

The Year of the Flood

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The Year of the Flood – Margaret Atwood 

The Year of the Flood is the second book in Atwood’s Maddaddam trilogy. I’ve often sound that the second book can be the weakest in a trilogy, but this certainly isn’t the case here. In fact, the novel would be intensely enjoyable even if you hadn’t read its predecessor, since it focuses on different characters, leading them up to the same place and point in time at which Oryx and Crake ends. Although Oryx, Crake and Jimmy do appear in in The Year of the Flood (along with several other characters and groups), the novel approaches the story from a different angle. In a way, the first two novels are prequels to Maddaddam, each one providing a backstory for different members of the group whose progress is charted in the final book. This novel tells the stories of Toby and Ren (Brenda, Jimmy’s briefly-mentioned high school girlfriend from Oryx and Crake), survivors of Crake’s plague and former members of the God’s Gardeners cult. Toby is living in the AnooYoo spa in which she worked under a false identity to protect her from her vengeful, rapist ex-boss and Ren is trapped in the quarantine room of Scales & Tails, the sex club in which she worked. The stories of the two women are told as Atwood once again uses her skilful blend of past and present, and they eventually team up.

One of my favourite elements of this novel was the God’s Gardeners cult, a religious sect into which Atwood has obviously put a lot of thought. The doctrines, theological ideas and practices of the Gardeners make their existence seem very plausible, and are clearly a result of meticulous planning and a very original mind. I found myself drawn into the fascinating world of the Gardeners and very much enjoying the daily workings of the sect. Not only this, I enjoyed the Jimmy-Ren romance as well as Ren’s feelings towards Shackleton, one of the fellow gardeners, the relatable though unjustified feeling of not wanting someone, but not wanting anyone else to have them either. The development (or non-development, as it were) of Zeb and Toby relationship was also a plot line that hooked me although, frustratingly, not much is resolved in this novel (fortunately, there’s more to come in Maddaddam). I also found myself getting excited when I spotted Oryx and Crake crossovers- “oooh there’s Jimmy!”, “oh hey it’s Amanda”, “is that young Crake?” (and so on). As I said before, the first two novels are more like two separate books that are merely set in the same universe, rather than being of the same series, and that makes the references all the more exciting to spot. Atwood has clearly planned this trilogy very well, and executes her plan with a great deal of subtlety. I also love the inventive, imaginative world that this novel is set in, but I mentioned that in the previous review.

The Year of the Flood is a fantastic novel, and one that won’t disappoint fans of Oryx and Crake. It’s well-thought out, easy to read, compelling and- strangely enough- it feels very realistic. I’d recommend it, along with the rest of the Maddaddam trilogy, to anyone, of any age.

 Maddaddam review to come tomorrow!