The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood is the only book we’ve read this year from an author that I had read previously. Last summer I had read The Handmaid’s Tale, so I knew what I was getting myself into with this book, to a certain extent at least. I found similar themes here as I did The Handmaid’s Tale, from the way the book plays with time and the flashback mechanism, to its religious themes, to its use of female characters. I think it that way, it was probably the book I enjoyed the most all semester.
The story follows an environmentalist cult who spent years anticipating a horrific plague, and thus were able to avoid it. The reader follows this story through Ren and Toby, both of whom are members of the cult known as the Gardeners. Throughout the book the perspective shifts between these two women, while also switching tenses from first to third between Ren and Toby, respectively. This manner of writing truly provides a wider scope as far as the world she’s constructed is concerned. Through Ren we are able to view the world of the gardeners on a real personal level, experiencing it through the thoughts and emotions of another person, whereas when we switch to Tobey we are provided with a more objective viewpoint, showing the world for what it is, rather than how Ren sees it.
The world that Atwood constructs is one that was more or less destroyed by the greed of corporations, which seems to be a common theme, at least of the last two books we read. I can’t complain though, given the world we live in, it’s honestly the most accurate cause for the downfall of humanity we could expect. All in all The Year of the Flood is an engaging read that I recommend to any fan of good science fiction. Margaret Atwood isn’t new at this, she’s well-seasoned and knows exactly what she’s doing, and she does it very well.